Filming Fitzgerald

In advance of the release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story, Variety has a nice piece about Fitzgerald’s complicated relationship with Hollywood, and how hard it’s been to adapt his work for the screen. Among the folks tapped to comment are Gore Vidal and late Fitzgerald scholar Matthew Bruccoli, but the most salient quote about Fitzgerald adaptations comes from the guy in the corner office, Variety editor in chief Peter Bart:

Variety Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart, who was [Robert] Evans’ right-hand man at Paramount [which produced the Robert Redford-starring adaptation of “The Great Gatsby”] and later produced “Islands in the Stream” (1977) from the Hemingway novel, says Hemingway and Fitzgerald pose a trap. “If you rewrite them too greatly, people who loved the books will rise up in arms. You want to capture their great sense of setting, but you have to tamper with them because they’re not structured (for film). What’s seducing about the work is the quality of the prose, and that you can’t translate to film.”

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