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The Last Tycoon

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The Last Tycoon tells the story of Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), a young film producer, and his boss Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer) as they deal with the changing times of Hollywood in the 1930s.

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This was far from a perfect pilot but I like the cast, I like the cast chemistry and think it could develop into something interesting to watch...even if it's just for the costumes.

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I enjoyed the pilot a great deal and I'm glad it was picked up to go to series.  The cast is really good and the setting and time period are fascinating.

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Just watched the pilot, and I'm intrigued. I haven't read the novel (yet), but it took all of two seconds to figure out that Monroe Stahr is a stand-in for "Boy Wonder" Irving Thalberg. While Thalberg predeceased his wife, Norma Shearer, this story opens up plenty of angsty byways by making Stahr a still-grieving widower. The studio boss's daughter having a crush on him against her father's wishes is pulled from both Thalberg's time at Carl Laemmle's studio and at MGM. Thalberg dated Laemmle's daughter and her parents hoped they'd marry, while Mayer wanted Thalberg nowhere near his daughters because of the "exploding heart" risk that doomed him.

Fitzgerald, who had a front seat to all manner of Hollywood shenanigans, openly admitted that Thalberg was the inspiration for Stahr. Thalberg, who died several years before Hitler invaded Poland, believed Naziism would blow over and that communism was a more insidious threat. Fitzgerald lived just long enough to find out how wrong Thalberg was about Hitler, but died before the U.S. entered WWII.  I'm curious to see how the novel handles this, so I'll have to decide whether or not I want to spoil myself with it during the wait for new episodes.

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Last Tycoon Gets Trailer, Premiere Date at Amazon

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Amazon will return to the early days of Hollywood this summer with a former White Collar criminal.

The streaming service on Friday announced that new period drama The Last Tycoon, starring Matt Bomer and Frasier‘s Kelsey Grammer, will premiere all nine Season 1 episodes on Friday, July 28

Based on the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon is inspired by the life of film mogul Irving Thalberg, and follows Hollywood golden boy Monroe Stahr (Bomer) “as he battles father figure and boss, Pat Brady (Grammer) for the soul of their studio,” per the official synopsis. “In a world darkened by the Great Depression and the growing international influence of Hitler’s Germany, The Last Tycoon illuminates the passions, violence, and towering ambition of 1930s Hollywood.”

Lily Collins (The Blind Side), Rosemarie DeWitt (United States of Tara), Dominique McElligott (House of Cards) and Mark O’Brien (Halt and Catch Fire) round out the cast, which also features guest stars Jennifer Beals (Taken) and Eion Bailey (Once Upon a Time). Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) and Christopher Keyser (Tyrant) serve as executive producers.

 

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Are we going to see real actors and actresses or are we going to have people who may or may not be inspired by real people.  I watched the pilot but I can't remember if we saw anyone that would have been a name back then. I love pre code Hollywood, so I really hope the show gets into that, and I hope we get to see actors like Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Marie Dressler, the list goes on and on.

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Brady makes a drastic decision to save the studio which causes a catastrophic rift in his relationship with Stahr. Monroe and Kathleen grapple with the emotional fallout of her dark deception. Rose forges a new path in life. Celia takes a lesson from her father. Max's indiscretion comes back to haunt him. Hackett has a surprising proposition for Hannah.

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Stahr concocts a campaign to secure the studio's first ever Oscar nominations. Brady scours for a solution to balance the books and get the Board of Directors off his back. Celia's mettle as a producer is tested by Lang's outrageous demands. Kathleen plots an escape from her dangerous charade. Rose makes a shocking discovery.

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Stahr hunts for the perfect publicity angle for Kathleen, while managing reactions to his big news. Brady hatches a bold business ploy that has sweeping consequences for the studio and forces Monroe to contain the repercussions. Kathleen struggles to manage her tangled web of half-truths. Celia cares for Max as they test the boundaries of their new relationship. Hackett takes a stand.

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Stahr encourages Kathleen to join Lang's secluded rehearsal, leaving him alone on Christmas Eve to contemplate his choices. Brady hopes for a Christmas miracle as he schemes to boost ticket sales for "Angels on the Avenue." Kathleen must pay a sinister price for stardom. Rose helps Kitty prepare for a dangerous surgery. Celia and Max are brought closer by tragedy.

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Stahr orchestrates an extravagant Hollywood party that masks a secret agenda. Brady courts Margo Taft to become Brady-American's permanent leading lady. Rose is tortured by Stahr's public happiness and Brady's public philandering. Celia and Lang's partnership takes a provocative turn. Hackett is intrigued by a visitor from Vienna. Kathleen reluctantly agrees to Monroe's request to screen test.

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Irving Thalberg's death sends shockwaves throughout the industry, and causes further insecurity from Brady about his own golden boy. Monroe risks his budding relationship to save a movie and Brady American. Celia's adjustments to Hackett's script are well received. Rose immerses herself in volunteering, and forges a meaningful bond with a young, lonely patient.

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With Pat Brady's back against the wall, he proves his worth as a studio head in pursuing film star Margo Taft. Monroe must manage two demanding bosses as Louis B. Mayer takes a driving role in Brady American. Rose seeks a new outlet in her life. Celia forms a connection with office boy, Max Miner. Monroe's relationship with Kathleen blossoms as they let their guard down.

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Monroe's personal life heats up as he pursues the beautiful Kathleen, who pushes against the idea of being a replacement for Minna. Pat Brady's pet project has a devastating debut, forcing him to accept Monroe's help. Celia gets cozy in her role as producer, so Hackett takes it upon himself to give her an education.

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Great episode.  Loved the union story line, and how much of a jerk Mayer was.  I'm trying to limit myself to one episode a day so I can really soak them in.

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I found it hard to follow.  I will try another episode and see if it gets better.  Some of the reviews have said that it does.

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Did anyone watch the original pilot and then this first episode?  I know sometimes pilots are reworked between when they're aired for their debut and when they became part of a series.

I will get to this later today.  I'm trying to decide if I'm going to binge or take a more leisurely stroll with it. 

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yeah, i enjoyed it, too, more than the pilot, probably because i'm starting to get familiar with the characters and the storylines are starting to go somewhere.  also, i realised about halfway through that if i don't expect this show to be 'mad men in the '30s' that i am much more satisfied.  it's more literal and less metaphorical than that show, if that makes sense (and by that i'm drawing on sonia saraiya's recent article commemorating the 10th year since the AMC show began).

 

that's not to say that there's not depth here - an accusation i've seen in a few reviews.  in fact there were a few times i had to rewind because i'd missed some nuance of a monologue or conversation.  

 

i'm especially fascinated by the process of rewriting, reshooting, etc.  i liked that glimpse into how monroe's mind works, how he sees both the little things that need tweaking as well as the 'big picture' issues (pardon the pun).

 

beyond that aspect, i'm interested in seeing where the max miner storyline goes, the union effort, and even the romances, not only monroe and kathleen's.  (btw, the actress who plays kathleen reminds me of another actress, but nothing on her imdb page helps me figure out who - anyone else have any ideas?)

 

on a shallow note, i was glad to see that they improved rosemarie's dewitt's appearance from the pilot, where i thought she looked dreadful, and i generally think she is very pretty in other roles.  in the pilot, it looked like they hadn't figured out how to do her hair and makeup in period style but more complimentary to her own features.  i did like that we got a hint of how rose and monroe started their affair, and it's easy to see how it served very different purposes for each of them and how he doesn't need it anymore in the way that she does.  i hope we get to know more about her character as the series progresses.

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2 hours ago, veronicalodge44 said:

it's more literal and less metaphorical than that show,

Sometimes I just like a show where a cigar is just a cigar

 

I had the same reaction to Kathleen, but I think it's the accent and the period clothing making me think she looks like Kelly MacDonald in Boardwalk Empire.

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On ‎7‎/‎28‎/‎2017 at 9:59 PM, veronicalodge44 said:

Having binge watched all the episodes I would agree with this review.

These comments are definitely true:

  • "a lovely period piece that contains several top-notch performances"--for me Jennifer Beals ("demonstrates terrific range as a powerful superstar with hidden vulnerabilities"); Kelsey Grammar ("towering performance in a role he was born to play"); Rosemarie DeWitt; the too-perfect hero, Matt Bomer and the biggest surprise for me, Lily Collins. 
  • "from camera techniques to costumes to the yearning music, (sounded GR8 with my speaker system) the show pays homage to classic cinema"
  • "the Amazon series doesn't sugarcoat the foundations of the story--one that Fitzgerald told over and over and over again, about the glittering lives of people who appear to have it all but who feel an acute emptiness"
  • "At the core of the drama is the oldest story of Tinseltown: Getting to the top of the ladder usually requires the kind of amorality that makes enjoying the fruits of success exceedingly difficult."
  • Comments about missed opportunities and some of the subplots misfires are true.

On a scale of **** I would rate this *** 1//2.

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i was already digging this show but now i'm loving it - i think my enjoyment of this episode is proportional to my love of jennifer beals, who is so good and fun to watch here!

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Saul Rubinek as Louis B. Mayer!  We got ourselves a Frasier reunion there with him and Kelsey Grammer.

Really enjoyed this episode.  I love the setting of the show and the world it envelopes and the cast is terrific.

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Is Margo Taft supposed to represent a real actress from that period? 

I loved the way Monroe talked to Sally Sweet - "Cut this shit out or I'll make sure you never work in this town again." That straightened her out pretty quickly.

Edited by anniebird
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I also liked how Monroe told Sally Sweet's "guardian" to leave off with the Benzedrine nasal spray. That was a pretty big problem with child actors back in the day.

I wondered the same thing too anniebird, irt who Margo Taft might be a composite of. She's already name-checked Mary Pickford who also was an actress who called a lot of her own shots once she was in a position to do so. Jennifer Beals is delightful in this role.

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i found this episode to be quite moving.  and i loved jennifer beals' storyline - both how it was acted and how it was handled by the show.  i've been enjoying the evolution of margo's relationship to pat, and beals and kelsey grammar play well off of each other.  

 

i'm also liking the specificity to the relationship between kathleen and monroe.  usually once a couple gets together, especially on a tv series, all of their conversations are very trite and stories either boring or contrived.  i like that this couple's conversations, brief though they often are, have a depth and realness to them.  and i'm glad that the inevitable kathleen-as-actress development isn't being accompanied by monroe being manipulative and trying to take advantage of her.  

 

and even though stories about the rise of nazi germany have been done so much, i still found myself getting choked up as (most of) the orchestra members reboarded their bus to leave.  

 

before this show, i was completely ignorant about germany's censoring of hollywood films in the pre-WWII period and how much the studios went along with it and why.  so i've been reading about that in-between watching episodes.  glad to see this show bring this important history to light.

 

and a final point - the more i watch this show, the more i'm perplexed by some critics' claims that it's all surface, hollow, shallow, and the like.  it's just not at all how i'm experiencing it...

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Another thing that's great is that Jennifer Beals is 53 but her character is considerably younger, probably in her 30s.  That's how well she's aging. 

Kelsey Grammer seems to be bringing a lot of his former co-stars into this.  Saul Rubinek played Donnie on Frasier, I believe Jennifer Beals was on the last episode of Frasier and Sharon Lawrence (who plays Rose's friend) starred in a show that he produced.

I wasn't really into the Monroe/Kathleen relationship in this.  Enjoyed the stuff with Pat and Margo more and Margo in general.

Very meta depicting Irving Thalberg on this show as...

Spoiler

Monroe in the book was based on him.

Edited by benteen
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i've been watching 1-2 a day and enjoying that pace.  and yes, even though i did enjoy the pilot, i found it just got better and better as it went along (only have the finale remaining to watch).  i recommend hanging in there - by mid-way through the season, i was thoroughly immersed and have come to care for the characters and their plight.  and the acting is top-notch throughout.

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well, that was dramatic!  

 

i think as this season has progressed, i've realised that the show is often in the style of late 1930s films, with melodrama as a popular genre.  personally, i don't find it too over the top as i feel that those melodramatic moments are leavened with softer ones of personal connection or humour (for instance, in this episode, celia's confronting of fritz lang was rewarding to see).

 

and i kept feeling that the actor playing the forensic accountant was familiar - and when i looked on imdb it wasn't his credit from a role in mad men that i'd been thinking of, but was instead when he played frasier's son, frederick, on frasier.  (having just done a rewatch of that series, it's fresh on my mind.  and the episode where frederick shows up as a teenager-gone-goth is a classic...)

 

i still have the finale to go, but i'm sure hoping that this series gets some more love and attention, and also a season 2 renewal.

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That was Frasier's son?  Wow, I didn't even realize it.  A lot of people Grammer has worked with have been popping up on this show.  Cool.

I've been really enjoying this show and I think it's another one that deserves better from the critics.  Hoping for a second season too.

Edited by benteen
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I just finished watching this show and I don't know how I feel about it.  I thought the first few episodes dragged, the last three were good.  This episode felt strange, like the pacing was off, everything happened too quickly and then when it was over I was like, "Did they run out of film, or money or something?"  It just seemed like someone in a director's chair was screaming, "We have to end this NOW, or Amazon will cut the purse strings."  

To me the ending didn't feel like an ending, I felt, "that's it?"  

I also call bullshit on the character played by Jennifer Beals.  How could Monroe tell "what she was?"  I'm black, I have people in my family lighter than Jennifer Beals and when she was in Flashdance in 1983, I had no idea that one of her parents was black until SHE said so in an interview.  I had a suspicion, but I wasn't 100% sure.  So I never could get how Monroe or anybody else would have known either.

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In the scene where Rose is having lunch with the girls, are they gossiping about Marion Davies?  They say her name, but the stuff about stunt men and getting married doesn't seem to fit with her life. (She didn't get married until the fifties)

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I very much enjoyed it and hope we get a Season 2.

I thought Beals was terrific in this, particularly the Oscar speech.

Kind of surprise it took Monroe that long to have a heart attack considering his condition.

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I liked Pat's story about his old boss and the lead pipe.  That whole scene was wonderful.  Kelsey Grammer is really good at menacing people.

Matt Bomer continues to just shine in this role, he was made to wear a suit! (and a Hat)

Fritz's monocle is bothering me.  It took me quite a while to realize it wasn't my computer screen, there really was a monocle on his left eye.  Why can't it have a frame or something so he doesn't look like he has a shiny, bigger left eye?  I never had this problem with Hogan's Heros :) 

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I also found the orchestra members subplot moving.  I so wanted them to get off the bus, but I guess they didn't realize how bad it was going to get.  

Margo and Pat - Pat's the one who told Mayer about her mother, did he do that on purpose or did his big mouth screw him?

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I don't know what made me feel for Monroe more, the way everyone stared at him when he went to the Brady's or finding out Kathleen is all an act.  Either way, Monroe had a shitty Christmas.

I was sure Kathleen was ducking an abusive husband/boyfriend.  That she was avoiding the guy who helped her become Kathleen was a surprise.  I don't know if I really like that story line, though.  

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I thought the pilot was slow. I really wanted to like it as this is my kind of show. I don't buy Matt Bomer in the lead. I think he's kind of wooden. But based on what I've read here, I'll give it a few more episodes. 

Edited by Sweet-tea

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I really enjoyed the series, especially the aesthetic.  The clothes, the makeup, the costumes and the sets really worked for me.  I did think it was better a few episodes at a time, though.  I would like to see where it goes but I'm not sure it'll get a second season.

On 8/13/2017 at 5:42 PM, Neurochick said:

To me the ending didn't feel like an ending, I felt, "that's it?"  

I thought it served as a solid ending if it is indeed the end.  Rose was free.  Kathleen might not have love but she has her deal.  Pat and Monroe screwed one another with Pat preventing Monroe from leaving and Monroe negotiating an opportunity for Celia.  Celia gets to make her movie.  And Monroe's heart condition finally comes to a head.  If it's not renewed, we can presume he died.  If not....

I wonder if Monroe figured out Margo's secret because he's used to having to assimilate. 

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8 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

I wonder if Monroe figured out Margo's secret because he's used to having to assimilate. 

I could kind of believe that, but it was a bit of a stretch; I'm black, have relatives as light as Beals and when she was in Flashdance, in 1983, I didn't know she was biracial until I read it in an article that year.

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