Paramount's 1949 film version was by all accounts successful commercially -- it did make a small profit. Alan Ladd's performance was generally praised, although the film itself got mixed reviews. His performance holds up pretty well, even today. IMO the '49 version is much better than the two hugely expensive remakes, although it's no classic, much too literal-minded, and does not capture Fitzgerald's masterful portrayal of the 20's era. However, I agree with the rest of your post.