Your high school English teacher was right: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby really is one of the best American novels of the 20th century, and if you weren't paying attention back in school, you should read it again right away. Will watching the 1974 film version of The Great Gatsby serve as an acceptable shortcut? No. Sadly, the movie treats Fitzgerald's flawless novel as little more than a Jazz-age costume drama, and it goes heavy on the costumes, light on the drama.

Adapted for the screen by Francis Ford Coppola in just three weeks after Truman Capote was fired (so the story goes), Gatsby tells the story of the mysterious and elusive Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford), a superrich businessman who likes to throw wild weekend-long, gin-soaked parties at his sprawling Long Island estate. But who is he? Where did he come from? Rumors abound, but no one seems to know for sure, and as long as the band keeps playing and the booze keeps flowing, no one seems to care all that much.

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