The Last Tycoon (1976) Blu-ray Review: Uneven Goodness

In The Last Tycoon (Elia Kazan’s final film), it is the Great Depression and Robert De Niro plays stratospheric Hollywood producer Monroe Stahr. We are told early on, in no uncertain terms, that he is the best of the producers and earns the studio millions upon millions each year. One day, there is an earthquake, a pipe breaks, and the studio floods. Floating by on a large piece of a set are two young women. Stahr is drawn to one of them, Kathleen Moore (Ingrid Boulting), and has his secretary track her down.

Stahr has been spending the last few years building a new home overlooking the Pacific. But all that stands out in the dunes is a basic frame for what could, eventually, really be something. It is here that he brings Kathleen Moore – to seduce her – and it is here that he discovers Kathleen has not only been engaged for quite some time, but she will be married in the very near future.

Stahr’s antagonists are another producer, Pat Brady (Robert Mitchum), and a New Yorker union organizer named Brimmer (Jack Nicholson). Brady has constantly clashed with Stahr and wants him out, especially since he has discovered his own daughter, Didi (Jeane Moreau), has had a crush on Stahr for years. Brimmer wants to unionize the studios’ writers as they are back at the New York studios. Nicholson is content to just play his secondary role here. In fact, many great actors are willing to play second fiddle to De Niro in The Last Tycoon. Outside of Tony Curtis, perfect as the aging talent, most of the cast simply isn’t given much to do except hope and wait for Stahr’s possible downfall.

The relationship with Kathleen, while mostly loving, doesn’t go well and she is soon married. This leads to Stahr drunkenly fighting with Brimmer, irritating Pat Brady over his “relationship” with Didi, and leads to all the producers trying to figure out how to take down Stahr.

Bonus Materials:

  • Brand New HD Master – From a 4K Scan of the 35mm Original Camera Negative
  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian/Author Joseph McBride, Editor of Filmmakers on Filmmaking
  • Trailers: The Kid Stays in the Picture, The Carpetbaggers, True Confessions, Boomerang

The Last Tycoon is an uneven movie. There simply is not enough story for all these great actors to play with. In the end, though, the relationships between Stahr and Didi, and Stahr and Kathleen give the movie enough forward momentum for a recommendation.

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Greg Hammond

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