I can easily imagine F. Scott Fitzgerald on the broad balcony of Thalberg's home, drink in hand, watching the ocean.
The novel remained unfinished when Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in December 1940 in the Los Angeles apartment of Hollywood columnist Sheila Graham. His friend and literary critic Edmund Wilson finished the book and published it simply as The Last Tycoon.
The film which came out in 1976 wasn't an unqualified critical success despite the fact that Elia Kazan directed from a script by Harold Pinter, with Robert De Niro playing Monroe Stahr, the character based on Hollywood heavyweight Thalberg. Thalberg was a wildly successful producer at the time, a boy genius with a Midas touch. From what I understand The Last Tycoon doesn't have much of an arc, rather it paints a tableau of those glitzy Hollywood days. The director studded the movie with iconic show biz types like Tony Curtis and Jeanne Moreau, with Robert Mitchum as Stahr's adversary Pat Brady and Jack Nicholson as a union organizer. Ingrid Boulton is Stahr's English love, the promising young actress was only in a handful of projects after that, mostly in the 80s.
The film itself was Oscar nominated for its art direction.
Another reason I've chosen this as our Saturday Matinee is because there's a new rendition coming to Amazon on June 17th. The new movie stars Matt Bomer as Stahr with Lily Collin as Cecilia Brady, the narrator of the novel, played by Theresa Russell in the 1976 version. Kelsey Grammar takes on Mitchum's adversarial role. Oh, I definitely plan to watch De Niro as Stahr first, and quite possibly instead of this updated version.
I can't find a trailer for the 1976 version but check out the clip below. The movie is available to stream on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu and GooglePlay. What do you think?