The Last Tycoon

Director: Elia Kazan
Year Released: 1976
Rating: 1.5

Robert De Niro, standing in for classic Thalberg/Selznick Hollywood types, is the actual auteur of his studio movies - he decides what goes in the films and what doesn't, and freely fires directors, writers, etc. What is really strange, however, is how a single meeting with Fellow Traveler/Writer's Rep Jack Nicholson is supposed to bring about his ruin (he walks into a darkened set and disappears ... oh, what a surprise, Harold Pinter was the screenwriter). F. Scott Fitzgerald - who wrote the source novel after his life and wife disintegrated in front of him (no more booze for you, Zelda) - once said that American lives don't have second acts, but this movie, based on his last book, forgot about the last act entirely: it's all second act. Where's De Niro's resilience? Why does the romantic subplot with terrible actress Ingrid Boulting lack chemistry (De Niro's character thinks she looks like a former love and that's enough for his total rapture)? What would Fitzgerald (or Thalberg himself) think of today's teen-oriented, dumbed-down cinema?