Winter Dreams: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Life Remembered in Fine Film

F. Scott Fitzger­ald died on this day in 1940. It was a Sat­ur­day after­noon in Hol­ly­wood. Fitzger­ald was eat­ing a choco­late bar and read­ing the Prince­ton Alum­ni Week­ly, which had just arrived in the mail, when sud­den­ly he rose from his arm­chair, reached out for a mar­ble man­tel­piece, and col­lapsed onto the floor in a mas­sive heart attack. He was 44 years old.

A lat­er exam­i­na­tion of the choco­late-smudged pages of the mag­a­zine revealed that Fitzger­ald (find sev­er­al of his works in our Free Audio Books and Free eBooks col­lec­tions) had been inter­est­ed in an arti­cle about the 1940 Prince­ton foot­ball team, jot­ting down a ros­ter of for­mer play­ers in the mar­gin and draw­ing a line around this mun­dane pas­sage: “Faced with such men as Rea­gan [a Penn play­er], Ari­co of Dart­mouth, Willough­by of Yale, or Mazur of Army, a play­er has his work cut out for him. The first pre­req­ui­site of a good tack­ler is his desire to tack­le. You must want to tack­le. After that it is a mat­ter of train­ing and the abil­i­ty to think quick­ly and act quick­ly.” Beside the cir­cled pas­sage, Fitzger­ald had writ­ten in pen­cil: “good prose.”

Fitzger­ald, of course, was one of the most cel­e­brat­ed prose styl­ists of the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry, and to mark the date of his pass­ing we present a fas­ci­nat­ing doc­u­men­tary, F. Scott Fitzger­ald: Win­ter Dreams, from the PBS Amer­i­can Mas­ters series. Pro­duced, writ­ten and direct­ed by DeWitt Sage, the film won a Peabody award in 2002 “for chron­i­cling the life of Fitzger­ald, one of Amer­i­ca’s great­est nov­el­ists, in images and ideas as lyri­cal and inven­tive as his prose.”

The film has no nar­ra­tor. Instead, the sto­ry of Fitzger­ald’s life is pieced togeth­er through read­ings of his sto­ries, let­ters, and notes, and through inter­views with schol­ars, writ­ers (includ­ing E.L. Doc­torow) and a few peo­ple who actu­al­ly knew the writer. F. Scott Fitzger­ald: Win­ter Dreams is 84 min­utes long, and will be added to our grow­ing archive of Free Movies Online. For more about the film, includ­ing an inter­view with the direc­tor and an inter­ac­tive time­line of Fitzger­ald’s life, go to the Amer­i­can Mas­ters web­site. To read Fitzger­ald’s famous short sto­ry called “Win­ter Dreams,” click here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

F. Scott Fitzger­ald Recites “Ode to a Nightin­gale”

F. Scott Fitzger­ald Reads Shake­speare

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  • alexandra blanchard says:

    “Delight­ed” is an under­state­ment, describ­ing how glad I am, to have come across this site. I am sure I will be a fre­quent vis­i­tor, as there is so much, which I find com­pelling, by mere­ly hav­ing glanced, at this very first “page.”

    I have but one ques­tion: I noticed, in your “cat­e­gories” list, sev­er­al promi­nent col­leges. I am won­der­ing why Har­vey Mudd Col­lege is not men­tioned, con­sid­er­ing all the acco­lades they have received, over the years, (most often by “Best Col­leges” lists, annu­al­ly,) includ­ing, but not lim­it­ed to: most selec­tive lib­er­al arts col­lege, in the coun­try; high­est salaries earned by grad­u­ates, through­out their careers; most stu­dents, of any col­lege, to go on to obtain a PhD; and, par­tic­u­lar­ly relat­ed to your audi­ence, they are required to take one-third, of their course­work, in the human­i­ties.

    I look for­ward to uti­liz­ing this site. I know I will ben­e­fit, great­ly, from what you have to offer. Sin­cere­ly, ARB

  • kilgatron says:

    The open­ing min­utes with Blos­som Dearie’s singing and the places in St. Paul is one of the more artis­tic moments I’ve ever expe­ri­enced. Fan­tas­tic.

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