The Last Tycoon is a handsome and lethargic film, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished Hollywood novel of the 1930s, as adapted by Harold Pinter. Producer Sam Spiegel’s contribution is admirable, but Elia Kazan’s direction of the Pinter plot seems unfocussed though craftsmanlike. Robert De Niro’s performance as the inscrutable boy-wonder of films is mildly intriguing.
In an apparent attempt to avoid making a nostalgia film, the few choice bits of environmental interest emerge mostly as awkward interruptions in the main plot.
Ingrid Boulting is the elusive charmer who penetrates somewhat into De Niro’s interior, but since her own expressions are limited in scope, we don’t really know what she finds there. So, too, Theresa Russell, as Robert Mitchum’s daughter, tries for De Niro, but at least she emerges as perhaps the only credible principal character in the piece.
1976: Nomination: Best Art Direction