The First The Great Gatsby Film (1926)

This is a 1 min. trailer of the first filmed version of the novel, no copies of the actual film are known to have survived. The book and film famously narrate the life of self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby who lacks only one thing in life: the love of the beautiful, impulsive Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby’s carefully laid scheme to announce his intentions to take Daisy away from her cloddish husband Tom Buchanan goes horribly awry, setting the stage for the inexorable tragedies that follow. The film was first a stage play on Broadway at the Ambassador Theatre in New York City. Fitzgerald received $45,000 for the rights to his 1925 classic.

The film was entrusted to a contract Paramount director, Herbert Brenon who designed the film as lightweight, popular entertainment, playing up the party scenes at Gatsby’s mansion and emphasizing their scandalous elements. This might have been a big mistake.

Both Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald walked out of the movie when they saw it. Later Zelda wrote in a letter:

“We saw ‘The Great Gatsby’ in the movies. It’s ROTTEN and awful and terrible and we left”.

However, the 1926 Great Gatsby was actually filmed during the historical period it depicts.

Professor Wheeler Winston Dixon, James Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, made extensive but unsuccessful attempts to find a surviving print. Dixon noted that there were rumors that a copy survived in an unknown archive in Moscow but dismissed these rumors as unfounded

Some stills from the trailer:

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The Great Gatsby (1926)

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The Great Gatsby (1926)

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The Great Gatsby (1926)

The Great Gatsby Movie Trailer from 1926

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