The Last Tycoon

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

F. Scott Fitzgerald was working on a novel, until his death caused it to become an unfinished work. Since that time there have been many attempts in 3 decades to adapt it into a feature film. Names such as Norma Shearer and Robert Evans were linked to it in the early developments. That changed in the 1970’s when director Elia Kazan came out of retirement and decided that it was time to make the novel, loosely based on the life of Irving Thalberg, into a feature called “The Last Tycoon”.

Monroe Stahr (Robert DeNiro) heads International Films, one of the biggest studios in Hollywood in the 1930’s. He’s been a lonely man ever since the death of his wife a long time ago and puts his life and his passion into the work of the studio. One night after an earthquake he notices a beautiful young woman (Ingrid Boulting) on his lot and instantly falls in love with her. Unfortunately, the more he gets obsessed with this woman, the more he blinds to the fact that he cannot get what he had lost in the past and loses himself in the process.

Unlike “The Great Gatsby”, another F. Scott Fitzgerald piece that had a shaky start but improved as the film went along, “The Last Tycoon” gets off to a promising start then starts to lose steam around the halfway mark and even though there are a few great moments, they don’t add up to a great movie.

If only the movie could’ve had the same entertaining charge as the scene where Monroe describes “making pictures” with a writer in his studio office, or as imaginitive as his first encounter with the beautiful young woman on the lot after the earthquake, this movie would have had plenty to like about it but it all boils down to one thing. Robert DeNiro carries this picture and does it very well, but the all-star supporting cast of older actors mixed in with the newer actors (for that time) can’t carry the film along with him and provide glorified cameos that don’t add up as a whole.

The film’s production look is quite accurate and beautiful and the changing from black and white to color recreating some moments from film is interesting, but the parts don’t add up as a whole and Kazan kind of leaves us dry with just moments and an unbalanced script unable to flow in a straightforward direction. For the final film in Elia Kazan’s career, “The Last Tycoon” is an interesting attempt at a good picture, but the results are just as empty as the unfinished source material.

Video: How does it look?

Paramount has graced this title with a first time Widescreen Presentation and the results are wonderful visually. The 1.85:1 aspect ratio allows more of the wonderful production sets to liven up and the interchange once in a while to black and white to be seen beautifully and without much dirt or grain. A very good job.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is another example 70s film given a very good audio treatment courtesy of a 5.1 remix. Although most of the sound consists of the dialogue of the film, the best audio example is the score of the film by Maurice Jarre which sounds beautiful and most times does not mix too much with the dialogue in the film. The disc also has an English Restored Mono track along with English Subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There are no extras for this disc.

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