Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Last Tycoon

The Last Tycoon tells the fractured story of Hollywood producer Monroe Stahr (Robert De Niro), modeled after MGM's "boy wonder" Irving Thalberg, as he oversees production at a major studio, battles union heads and corrupt executives, and romances a young woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to his deceased actress wife. Whether it was taking a stab at screenwriting, someone else's telling of his own stories, or his boozy, lackluster final years on the West Coast, F. Scott Fitzgerald never really faired well in Hollywood and this wooden treatment of his final, unfinished novel The Love of the Last Tycoon is no exception. The film was also legendary director Elia Kazan's final gig behind the camera, and the screenplay was written by no less than Harold Pinter but, unless I'm mistaken, they draw exclusively from the finished parts of Fitzgerald's novel who frankly didn't leave much to work with. The film is probably worthwhile for De Niro completists, I enjoyed his performance and also that of Jack Nicholson and old pros like Robert Mitchum and Tony Curtis.