Thursday, May 9, 2013

Louise Brooks and the original Great Gatsby

This 1926 trailer is the only surviving footage of the first movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's  1925 novel, The Great Gatsby. This lost silent film, written during and set in the Roaring Twenties, was first adapted as a stage play at the Ambassador Theatre in New York City. 

The subsequent film was directed by Herbert Brenon (his 1925 credits include The Street of Forgotten Men, Louise Brooks' first film), and produced by Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky at Famous Players-Lasky. It was released by Paramount Pictures (Brooks' studio), and starred:

Warner Baxter - Jay Gatsby
Lois Wilson - Daisy Buchanan (starred in The Show-Off)
Neil Hamilton - Nick Carraway (starred in The Street of Forgotten Men)
Georgia Hale - Myrtle Wilson
William Powell - George Wilson (starred in The Canary Murder Case)
Hale Hamilton - Tom Buchanan
George Nash - Charles Wolf
Carmelita Geraghty - Jordan Baker
Eric Blore - Lord Digby
Gunboat Smith - Bert
Claire Whitney - Catherine
Nancy Kelly - child

I think Louise Brooks would have been wonderful in The Great Gatsby. She was the flapper type, though Brooks' herself did not think so.... Interestingly, Louise Brooks met F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald on a couple of occasions, according to Barry Paris' brilliant biography of the actress. The first time was in Los Angeles in January, 1927. The second time was in France in May, 1929. Her observations of the famous literary couple (told to critic Kenneth Tynan and others) are recorded in the Barry Paris book.

Here's a bit of related trivia: did you know that the original and most famous cover of The Great Gatsby was designed by Francis Cugat, the older brother of bandleader Xavier Cugat. The bandleader recorded a version of "Siboney" which was a favorite of Louise Brooks. She recommends it as a Latin dance number in her 1940 booklet, The Fundamentals of Ballroom Dancing. A version of that classic song can be heard on RadioLulu.


  1. Ah, they don't make movie trailers like that anymore! :-D What a shame the movie itself has been lost. Louise would have been perfect in it. I can see her as Daisy. She would have worn those rich-girl flapper clothes so elegantly.


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