Last Tycoon, The (1976): Kazan’s Last Film, Starring De Niro

The last picture of the great director Elia Kazan, The Last Tycoon, is also one of his weakest, an unsuccessful adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished final novel.

The novel concerned Monroe Stahr, a brilliant studio executive, based upon Fitzgerald’s experiences with MGM wunderkind Irving Thalberg).

The sensibilities of director Kazan and his scribe (the noted playwright Harold Pinter) simply do not match, and unusually for a Kazan movie, the acting is not very good either.

Robert De Niro is miscast (or misguided by Kazan) as Monroe Starr, playing the man in a cool but too detached and uninvolving manner. Monroe is in conflict with the firm studio head, Brady (modeled on Louis B. Mayer), played with firm authority by vet Robert Mitchum.

Worse, Kazan shows no feeling for the Hollywood Dream Factory of the 1930s. The tale shows how Starr juggles several productions at the same time, deals with nervous actors and stubborn directors, tries to stay afloat in the Hollywood corporate, while secretly carrying on a love affair with an English girl named Kathleen Moore (Ingrid Boulting).

 

Oscar Nominations: 1

Art direction-Set decoration: Gene Callahan and Jack Collins; Jerry Wunderlich

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The Art Direction winner was All the President’s Men

 

Credits

Released by Paramount

Sam Spiegel-Elia Kazan production

Running time: 123 minutes

Directed by Elia Kazan

Written by Harold Pinter