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Street Talk

Movie On Main Showcases Great American Novel

By Mickey Howley

Thursday night at 6:30 in the Civic Auditorium, the Water Valley Main Street Association continues the “Movie On Main” series with a free showing of the 1974 version of “The Great Gatsby.”

Based on the 1925 novel of the same name written by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (a descendent of our national anthem author), this movie won two Academy Awards. Robert Redford plays Jay Gatsby and Mia Farrow plays his love interest. What I did not know is Francis Ford Coppola adapted the novel into the screenplay.

Fitzgerald uses the technique of a narrator character, named Nick Carraway, as the voice of the novel. Carraway is played in this movie by a young Sam Waterston, an actor who you may know better as Jack McCoy on “Law & Order”.

What does Gatsby have to do with Water Valley now?  On the face of it not much: all the action takes place in New York City or out on Long Island.  Fitzgerald did not write about the south, although his wife was from Alabama, and the novel is set in the early 1920s.  Fitzgerald, who was a contemporary of Faulkner and Hemingway, certainly wrote a great American novel.   

The choice of this movie coincides with the reading of the novel by students at Water Valley High School. They’ll be in the audience.  It is also one of the first novels where much action takes place in automobiles. The time period is the start of when America was shifting from the railroad to automobiles for travel, and car accidents partially drive the plot. Those two items are relevant to Water Valley and Water Valley teenage drivers.

 Gatsby is the fourth in this series we’ve shown so far; the first one was outside, the next two in the TWL/Parker building, this one at the Auditorium and the next ones outside again on Main Street.

Why is Main Street showing movies?  We saw that other towns in the area have been showing movies.  Eupora has had a movies series for a few years now, and many older Vallians said they missed having a movie theater downtown. We felt this would be a way to bring people downtown in the evening. The Movie On Main is just a part of Main Street’s big goal – re-energizing downtown as the center of social and economic life.

What motivates me to see a film is usually not the film or the act of watching itself, but rather who I am going to see it with. For me what is important is having a bite out to eat before or a soda or drink after with friends. It is really the social aspect surrounding the viewing that makes me want to see movies in the first place.

The outside showings are reminiscent of drive-ins, as the sound and screen quality are not totally optimal. The drive-in I used to go to, the Do Drive-In whose slogan was “Do It At The Do”, was just a fun place, despite the heat and mosquitoes. Please come see Gatsby Thursday, it is free.

Correction from last week’s column, the presentation date of the downtown improvement plan was not 1973, but April 1, 1976 to be exact and the trees in question are Carolina cherry laurels. Thanks to all who picked up trees last Thursday, it was a big success, hope you have them planted by now. Last week’s survey had towering shade trees barely edging out flowering ornamentals as Vallian favorites and one person thought we had enough trees already.  

Please visit and vote on when your favorite movies were.

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