Films with or about Fitzgerald

There are three different kinds of films listed on this page: #1 documentaries about F. Scott Fitzgerald's work and life, #2 fictional movies about Fitzgerald himself and #3 movies in which Fitzgerald makes an appearance as a minor character. And then, of course, there's Woody Allen's Zelig which features the few seconds available of Fitzgerald on camera.


Biography - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sincerely, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Is there really any need for another re-telling of Fitzgerald's biography? The producers of this entry in the BBC's 'Culture Show'-series and their host Jay McInerney obviously didn't think so. Instead they chose to reflect on the overlap between Fitzgerald's life and the stories he wrote, with a special focus on the genesis of The Great Gatsby and its author's final years in Hollywood. What they have to say on this subject almost does not matter: the style of the show seems more important than its substance, and the commentary more concerned with generating an aura of sophistication than with furthering the understanding of the subject matter. Yet, as a collection of Fitzgerald vignettes Sincerely, F. Scott Fitzgerald is entertaining to watch, in particular the host's visit to a rare books dealer who offers a few mind-blowing appraisals of first editions of The Great Gatsby.

   
Winter Dreams

F. Scott Fitzgerald - Winter Dreams

The documentary Winter Dreams was made in 2001 - at a time when some of Fitzgerald's contemporaries were still alive. It features interviews with the daughter of Fitzgerald's landlord at Baltimore and with neighbors of Zelda's family in Montgomery as well with authors like E.L. Doctorow and literary scholars like James L.W. West. Frankly, what they have to say about Fitzgerald's life and work is not particularly illuminating. However, the movie does manage to provide an accurate biographical account without relying on any third-person commentary. Instead, the filmmakers have used quotes from Scott's and Zelda's writings - their novels, their letters, their journals - to provide context to their collage of interviews, vintage photos, movie scenes and portraits of the places where the Fitzgeralds used to live.

   
Famous Authors - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Famous Authors - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Anyone interested in an informative, well-researched and visually pleasing documentary on Fitzgerald's life should make a point of not watching this entry in the Famous Authors series. Present-day impressions of the places where Fitzgerald lived plus a limited selection of familiar photos is all that the 30-minutes portrait has to offer. However, while the footage is mostly irrelevant and boring, the commentary on the soundtrack is even worse, as it quickly becomes obvious that whoever wrote it, didn't have much of a clue: according to this attempt at biography, Fitzgerald was born in 1894, Irving Thalberg made its impression on the movie industry as a director and Save me the Waltz was a personal attack by Zelda on Scott. A perfect waste of time and money.

   
Biography - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Biography - F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great American Dreamer

Don’t expect anything but the usual tale of early success and the gradual decline into darkness and despair that followed it. This 50-minute-long TV biography makes the most of the parallels between Fitzgerald’s life and the key characteristics of the two decades that his professional career spanned: the giddying heights of the roaring 20s and the lows of the Great Depression. Along the way the narrative also covers all the key milestones in a conventional, yet effective manner, relying for the most part on voiced-over photographs and the few bits and pieces of available film footage of the Fitzgeralds themselves. In general, it’s a good thing that excerpts from the main movie adaptations as well as interviews with so-called experts are used only sparingly. Yet, it is altogether welcome to hear Scott and Zelda’s granddaughter Eleanor Lanahan talk about the lives of her ancestors. One can’t help but hope that the tale of her mother’s happy, protected childhood is genuine – and not made up to put a positive spin onto an unhappy ending. Please note that this documentary is also featured on the DVD edition of the The Great Gatsby TV movie from 2000.

   
Last Call

Last Call (2002)

When reflecting on F. Scott Fitzgerald's biography, it’s easy to gloss over the misery of his final years. Yet, the terror of his Crack-Up, with family life and his writing career in ruins, are the starting point for 'Last Call'. Director Henry Bromell even relies on visual elements of the horror genre as well as repeat appearances of Zelda’s ghost to convey the anguish Fitzgerald is facing. Against this backdrop, his ultimate ability to muster the spiritual courage to start work on a new novel, even though the last one brought him neither emotional nor financial rewards, appears even more inspiring. 'Last Call' is not standard Hollywood fare that force-fits the conventions of the melodrama onto the underlying life story, though, but draws its narrative energy exclusively from the exploration of and interaction between the lead characters: the physically and mentally exhausted writer, struggling to live up to his own standards, and the infatuated, yet upright girl whom he has hired as his secretary. Bromell even resists the temptation to sweeten the bitter tale by turning their professional relationship into a romantic one, that he remains true, not just to the historical facts (not always a good thing), but to the core of what dignified Fitzgerald, the real one and the movie character: his unwavering loyalty to the values he belived in.

   
Beloved Infidel

Beloved Infidel (1959)

Beloved Infidel is based on Sheila Graham's account of the time she spent with Fitzgerald during his Hollywood years. The movie ends with Fitzgerald's premature death. Gregory Peck stars as Fitzgerald, while Graham is being played by Deborah Kerr. The movie is overly melodramatic, but if one forgets about the real story behind it, it's quite enjoyable as typical Hollywood fare of the 50s.

   
Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Owen Wilson gets lost in nocturnal modern-day Paris, boards a vintage car at midnight and unknowingly crashes a 1920s party where he first runs into none other than Zelda Fitzgerald who is soon joined by her husband. After this initial encounter - and after introducing the Owen Wilson character to Ernest Hemingway - the Fitzgeralds soon fade out of the story. Nevertheless, Midnight in Paris is well worth watching, not only because Allen manages to bring Scott and Zelda as well as Hemingway to life, without pitting them against each other, but also because he challenges the viewer with a paradox: his movie caters to feelings of nostalgia and enables the viewer to participate in Wilson's yearning for an era that's long gone, yet at the same time he drives to the final point that whatever time we live in, it will always be the present - and never attain the charm of the past.

   
Mrs. Parker and the vicious circle

Mrs. Parker and the vicious circle (1994)

Fitzgerald makes a very brief appearance in Mrs. Parker and the vicious circle. He's being portrayed by actor Malcolm Gets.

   
Zelig<

Zelig (1983)

Woody Allen's fake documentary Zelig features the only available film material of Fitzgerald. The clip lasts only a few seconds and shows Fitzgerald while he is sitting at a desk writing a letter. Of course, Allen's commentary claims that he's writing about human chameleon Zelig. The episode is placed right at the beginning of the movie.

 
F. Scott Fitzgerald - An Annotated Bibliography