The Great Gatsby is a 1974 American romantic drama film based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel of the same name. It was directed by Jack Clayton and produced by David Merrick from a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola. The film stars Robert Redford in the title role of Jay Gatsby, along with Mia Farrow, Sam Waterston, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Scott Wilson and Lois Chiles, with Howard Da Silva (who previously appeared in the 1949 version), Roberts Blossom and Edward Herrmann.
Writer Nick Carraway pilots his boat across the harbor to his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom’s mansion in East Egg. While there, he learns Tom and Daisy's marriage is troubled and Tom is having an affair with a woman in New York. Nick lives in a small cottage in West Egg, next to a mysterious tycoon named Gatsby, who regularly throws extravagant parties at his home.
Tom takes Nick to meet his mistress, Myrtle, who is married to George Wilson, an automotive mechanic. George needs to purchase a vehicle from Tom, but Tom is only there to draw Myrtle to his city apartment. Back on Long Island, Daisy wants to set Nick up with her friend, Jordan, a pro golfer. When Nick and Jordan attend a party at Gatsby's home, Nick is invited for a private meeting with Gatsby, who asks him to lunch the following day.
At lunch, Nick meets Gatsby's business partner, a Jewish gangster and a gambler named Meyer Wolfsheim who rigged the 1919 World Series. The following day, Jordan appears at Nick's work and requests he invite Daisy to his house so that Gatsby can meet with her. Gatsby surprises Daisy at lunch, and it is revealed that Gatsby and Daisy were once lovers, though she would not marry him because he was poor.
Daisy and Gatsby have an affair, which soon becomes obvious. While Tom and Daisy entertain Gatsby, Jordan, and Nick at their home, Daisy proposes they go into the city. At the Plaza Hotel, Gatsby and Daisy reveal their affair and Gatsby wants Daisy to admit she never loved Tom. She is unable to and drives off in Gatsby's car. During the drive home, Daisy hits Myrtle when Myrtle runs into the street. Believing that it was Gatsby who killed Myrtle, her husband, George, later goes to Gatsby's mansion and fatally shoots him as he relaxes in the swimming pool. Nick holds a funeral for Gatsby where he meets Gatsby's father. No one else attends the funeral. Afterward, Daisy and Tom continue with their lives as though nothing occurred. Nick breaks up with Jordan and moves back west, frustrated with eastern ways.
Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby
Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan
Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway
Truman Capote was the original screenwriter but he was replaced by Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola had just finished directing The Godfather but was unsure of its commercial reception and he needed the money. He believes he got the job on the recommendation of Robert Redford, who had liked a rewrite Coppola did on The Way We Were. Coppola "had read Gatsby but wasn't familiar with it." He checked himself into a hotel room in Paris (Oscar Wilde's old room) and started. He later recalled:
"I was shocked to find that there was almost no dialogue between Daisy and Gatsby in the book, and was terrified that I'd have to make it all up. So I did a quick review of Fitzgerald's short stories and, as many of them were similar in that they were about a poor boy and a rich girl, I helped myself to much of the authentic Fitzgerald dialogue from them. I decided that perhaps an interesting idea would be to do one of those scenes that lovers typically have, where they finally get to be together after much longing, and have a "talk all night" scene, which I'd never seen in a film. So I did that – I think a six-page scene in which Daisy and Gatsby stay up all night and talk. And I remember my wife telling me that she and the kids were in New York when The Godfather opened, and it was a big hit and there were lines around the block at five theaters in the city, which was unheard of at the time. I said, "Yeah, yeah, but I've got to finish the Gatsby script." And I sent the script in, just in time. It had taken me two or three weeks to complete."
On his commentary track for the DVD release of The Godfather, Coppola refers to writing the Gatsby script, adding "Not that the director paid any attention to it. The script that I wrote did not get made."
The Rosecliff and Marble House mansions in Newport, Rhode Island and an exterior of Linden Place mansion in Bristol, Rhode Island, were used for Gatsby's house while scenes at the Buchanans' home were filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. One driving scene was shot in Windsor Great Park, UK. Other scenes were filmed in New York City and Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
The film received mixed reviews, being praised for its faithful interpretation of the novel but also criticized for lacking any true emotion or feelings towards the Jazz Age. Despite this, the film was a financial success, making $26,533,200 against a $7 million budget.
The film won two Academy Awards, for Best Costume Design (Theoni V. Aldredge) and Best Music (Nelson Riddle). It also won three BAFTA Awards for Best Art Direction (John Box), Best Cinematography (Douglas Slocombe), and Best Costume Design (Theoni V. Aldredge). (The male costumes were executed by Ralph Lauren, the female costumes by Barbara Matera.) It won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (Karen Black) and received three further nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Bruce Dern and Sam Waterston) and Most Promising Newcomer (Sam Waterston).
The film was nominated by the American Film Institute for inclusion in the 2002 list of films, AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions.