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Fitzgerald's unfinished novel transfers awkwardly to the screen but is saved from oblivion by that always-fascinating actor De Niro, who essays the role of the movie mogul (based on MGM's Irving Thalberg). The film opens with De Niro very much in a position of power at his studio, backed
by his mentor and friend Mitchum, and guiding the careers of such people as matinee idol Curtis, who is going through an identity crisis. (Curtis, in an unintentional burlesque of his role, is unbelievably bad as a cross between John Gilbert and Ramon Novarro.) De Niro spots an attractive young
girl, Boulting, who strolls onto the set and floats around on a huge prop in the studio tank one night. She reminds him of his dead wife, but he is too distracted by the power struggles within the studio to succeed in m aking love to her. Boulting, a much-touted new discovery, proves to be without
acting talent, a vacuous personality. Mitchum sleepwalks his way through his studio-boss role. He takes women into his office washroom and is discovered there by his embarrassed daughter Russell, who is hell-bent on capturing the elusive De Niro. Nicholson appears briefly as a truculent union
leader who plays a vicious game of ping-pong with De Niro. There's simply not enough to this story it lacks an ending, and the middle is soggy (Pinter's movie musings mean nothing to the average viewer). A line delivered by Mitchum, while he and De Niro watch a new film in a posh screening room,
seems to sum up THE LAST TYCOON: "It just lays there and goes to sleep." The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.