On Friday night, we watched "Red River" on TCM. It's a truly great movie, worthy of comparisons to "King Lear," with John Wayne as Lear, Montgomery Clift as a fascinating Edgar/Cordelia fusion and Walter Brennan as, of course, the Fool. Texas and Kansas serve as the blasted heath; Lear's kingdom is a temperamental herd of 10,000 cattle.
The story qualifies as tragedy in no uncertain terms, but director Henry Hathaway lost his nerve and tacked on a happy ending that is so patently bogus that it can't taken seriously. It's as bad as the ending of any Perry Mason episode, and even worse, since it comes less than two minutes after Wayne's character has murdered one of the movie's principal characters, played by John Ireland.
That got me thinking: What if Fitzgerald's publisher had insisted that he write a comic ending for "The Great Gatsby" and as a result, the comedy version was the only version we knew? Then the movie version of the book would have made a great vehicle for William Powell and Myrna Loy ...
Even better, it would have made a great foundation for a series of light romantic musical comedies with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers!
Fred would play Gatsby, Ginger would play Daisy, Edward Everett Horton would play Nick and Erik Rhodes would play Tom Buchanan as an Argentine millionaire playboy. I can hear Rhodes saying something like "I theenk that Gatsby fellow is making eyeballs for my leetle Daisy," to Horton, and Horton reacting by dropping the tea cup he's holding.
At any rate, I recommend "Red River," which is worth watching, despite the bizarre ending.