The Last Tycoon
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, this film could very well have been called “Studio Head on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”. Set in 1930’s Hollywood, the story concentrates on Monroe Stahr (DeNiro), a very sharp & tough studio head trying to balance the everyday pressures of running the “ship” while attempting to repair his broken, haunted heart with a newfound love.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
There are two types of movies I love above all else: romance pictures and movies about Hollywood and the film business. THE LAST TYCOON is a wonderful mix of both, giving us a small taste of how the big studios were run back in the golden age coupled with an almost epic-like love story. Truthfully, I would lean towards calling this a romance rather than a picture about “pictures”. That’s where the true heart of this story lies. The transformation DeNiro’s character slowly goes through from a cold, calculating studio chief to a lovesick romantic incapable of controlling his feeling for a mysterious girl (newcomer Ingrid Boulting) who enters his life is not only inspiring, but heartbreakingly real. This isn’t empty schmaltz either, Maurice Jarre’s sweeping score (the man behind DR. ZHIVAGO’s memorable score, no less) adds so much to the very authentic and intimate relationship that grows between the two.
The locations chosen as the backdrop for the film also help add to that nostalgic feel of time and place. From a romantic beachfront house to the 1930’s studio sets, the innocence of love and the charm of the old studio system is exquisitely captured and felt in this movie. This isn’t a complicated movie by a long-shot though. Sure, there's an underlying commentary about love, power and morality, but at its core, it’s a love story and a very touching one at that. The cast is a director’s dream, Bobby Mitchum is in top form and he’s joined by Hollywood legends Ray Milland, Jack Nicholson, Tony Curtis and even John Carradine, in a very small, but amusing, role. Donald Pleasence is probably the most memorable of the supporting players in his part as an obnoxious British novelist not very pleased with his station in life as a Hollywood screenwriter. The terrific cast all give exciting performances under the hand of one of Hollywood’s smartest and most talented directors: Elia Kazan.
I love ‘em all, movies about movies: THE PLAYER, BARTON FINK, LIVING IN OBLIVION, THE STUNT MAN, SUNSET BLVD., SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS and many others like them all reveal a little behind the magic and mayhem of making motion pictures. If you’re also a sentimental movie buff like me, then buy this flick. It’ll have to be for the film though because this DVD has nothing but the movie on it…