A conflict develops between a troubled Vietnam veteran and the sister, with whom he lives, when she becomes romantically involved with the Army buddy who reminds him of the tragic battle ... See full summary »
David Merrill (Robert De Niro), a fictitious 1950s Hollywood Director, returns from filming abroad in France to find that his loyalty has been called into question by the House Committee on... See full summary »
Robert De Niro,
This is the funny story about two warring Mafia gangs in New York City. The weaker gang uses a lion to blackmail the opposite gang's "clients". The police succeed in stopping one of the gangs, while the other remains without the boss.
Jo Van Fleet
During shopping for Christmas, Frank and Molly run into each other. This fleeting short moment will start to change their lives, when they recognize each other months later in the train ... See full summary »
Robert De Niro,
Young film producer, Monroe Stahr, is a rising star in 1930's Hollywood due to his ability to get anything he envisions done even if it means breaking a few rules. The latest film he's working on stars two popular actors, Rodriguez and Didi, and everyone is sure it'll be a smashing hit when it's done. The times are changing however, since the first guilds and unions are being formed in Hollywood, but Stahr is still sticking to his old ways of doing things in spite of that. His main opponent becomes a union organizer, Brimmer, but Stahr finds ways to deal with him as well. However, in his hubris, Stahr crosses one red line too many when he falls for a young troubled engaged woman called Kathleen Moore and neglects Cecilia Brady, the young daughter of studio executive and Stahr's boss, Pat Brady. Pat becomes furious over this as well as Stahr's other misbehavings and makes it his mission to take Stahr down. Due to all the pressure, Stahr's health starts failing as well. The film is ...
veers towards being TOO subtle and stuffy, but remains a good view into coldness of 1930s Hollywood
For a little while as I watched the Last Tycoon, I thought I could understand what the critics said of this film when it first came out (the majority of them I mean). The screenplay, written by Harold Pinter from what is supposedly a much richer (albeit incomplete) text from F. Scott Fitzgerald, stages many scenes like how one would see on a theater stage, with only one or two little directional differences with Elia Kazan's take on the material. This, plus its slightly 'dry' style (i.e. very little musical score, limited camera movement, performances kept without much, if at all, improvisation), makes things seem almost too much in the realm of the naturalistic, of drama kept to a minimum of interaction.
But as the film went along like this, I started to notice something: the sort of coldness, almost a loneliness, with the character of Monroe Stahr, is what actually makes a lot of the movie work for all its intents and purposes. It has the veneer of being a little distanced, of not having the full driving force of drama and comedy (although it does have both of those in bits and pieces, more as little familial or romantic drama or one-line throwaways) like an 8 1/2 or the Player with dealing in the problems of a professional in the film industry. But because of Stahr's method of practices, of being as Mitchum's character describes "like a priest or a rabbi, 'this is how it will be'", when he's told 'no' it shatters him. As a film about loss, and the very calculated realization that his code in business spills over into the personal, the Last Tycoon does work.
Maybe not very well, but work it does, as storytelling and as a character piece. Sure, it might not be De Niro's best, but he does deliver subtle like it's as second nature as breathing (kind of a twist on his other 1976 character, Travis Bickle, whom he played subtle but also crazy, where as here it's subtle and empty), and he's got plenty of backup. There was some critical flack for the actress Ingrid Boutling, playing the nearly obscure object of Monroe's desire-cum-demand, but she too is better than she was given credit for, at least within the range she's allowed to work in (which, granted, isn't as much as one might think, but she's seen not as a fully-fleshed person but as someone with hints of a reality she needs and a fantasy world of movies she doesn't).
Then there's Nicholson, showing up in the final reels for a couple of amazing scenes sparring with De Niro, barely ever raising voices for a low-key one-on-one as a movie exec and communist writer organizer. Not to forget Mitchum, in maybe his last good performance, and Theresa Russell in also an underrated turn as a woman grown up way past her years. Did I mention Jeanne Moreau? She's Moreau, that's about it, playing a completely self-absorbed star for all its one dimension is worth. Only Tony Curtis, with his libido problems isn't par for the course, and Donald Pleasance has a shaky (if darkly funny) scene as a scorned writer.
Does the Last Tycoon have some problems as feeling like compelling historical drama? Sure. But does it somehow get into the atmosphere of its character in the context of his profession, revealing all that's absent for him every day coming home to his Asian butler? Absolutely. It's a mix and match that will disappoint some, and for those who want to take the chance on a somewhat forgotten 70s film- Kazan's last and Spiegel's final ego-tickler- might be even more impressed than I was. 7.5/10
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