WEIRDLAND: Film Noir Collection, The Last Tycoon: F. Scott Fitzgerald & Irving Thalberg

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Film Noir Collection, The Last Tycoon: F. Scott Fitzgerald & Irving Thalberg

"Double Indemnity" comes to us, in this release, as part of a grand set, "Film Noir: 10-Movie Spotlight Collection". This does not include all of the great films noir, of course; just titles from Paramount and Universal. The Film Noir: 10-Movie Spotlight Collection showcases a selection of defining movies including Double Indemnity, Touch of Evil, This Gun for Hire, Criss Cross, The Killers and more. Starring Hollywood legends such as Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Veronica Lake, Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner, these classic films represent one of the most intriguing eras in cinema history.

Movies like This Gun for Hire with good-guy cop Bob Preston overpowered by leading lady Veronica Lake (singing Frank Loesser songs) and breakthrough star Alan Ladd as a psychotic murderer. Or The Big Clock with good-guy magazine editor Ray Milland holding his own against psychotic publisher Charles Laughton, with Maureen O'Sullivan. Elsa Lanchester is refreshingly delightful as a Dali-esque Greenwich Village painter. Also on hand are Ladd and Lake in both Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key and Chandler's The Blue Dahlia; Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner in Ernest Hemingway's The Killers; and more. The ten films, on six DVDs in no-frills packaging, are capped by Orson Welles' fascinating and strange Touch of Evil. Source: www.playbill.com

Deadline reports that Amazon is close to buying the script for The Last Tycoon, a drama based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final, unfinished novel. The script—by Captain Phillips writer Billy Ray—was previously shopped to HBO. That network passed on it for unknown reasons, probably because Fitzgerald’s pre-World War II sensibilities prevented him including the requisite level of nudity in the original text. Although Fitzgerald never completed the book (originally titled The Love Of The Last Tycoon), an edited version was published in 1941.

Decades later, Elia Kazan directed a film adaption written by Harold Pinter and starring Robert De Niro. The Last Tycoon revolves around movie executive Monroe Stahr, a loose analog for real-life producer Irving Thalberg, who worked for Universal and MGM in the ’20s and ’30s and had a hand in grooming stars like Lon Chaney, Greta Garbo, and Joan Crawford. Source: www.avclub.com

Fitzgerald knew success so early, as a young man in his early twenties, with This Side Of Paradise in 1920. It was a hit. He was the toast of New York. But he was also that Midwestern boy from St. Paul, Minnesota, whose parents didn't quite measure up to their neighbors. His parents never owned a home, for instance. Fitzgerald never owned a home. He always rented. He was always kind of on the outside looking in. And hoping to be good enough for Princeton, to be good enough for the crowd on the Riviera who he hung out with: Gerald and Sara Murphy, the Hemingways. I'm borrowing Fitzgerald's words from the end of the novel. Gatsby is a dreamer, and so he ties his dreams to Daisy. But ultimately she's about as empty as the Maltese Falcon is in Dashiell Hammett's great hard-boiled novel of 1930. She's something everybody is chasing. But she doesn't measure up. And most importantly, film noir, hard-boiled detective fiction and "The Great Gatsby," they're all stories that are obsessed with the presence of fate. There's a very fated feel to Gatsby. You know, things - events that occur in the novel, they're foretold many times. -Maureen Corrigan Source: www.npr.org

Irving Thalberg rarely confided in his peers, as F. Scott Fitzgerald observed during a January 1927 visit to the studio. Only esteem for the author of The Great Gatsby made Thalberg lean across a dining room table and reveal something of himself: "Scottie, supposing there's got to be a road through a mountain-a railroad, and two or three surveyors and people come to you and you believe some of them and some of them you don't believe, but all in all, there seem to be half a dozen possible roads through those mountains, each one of which, so far as you can determine, is as good as the other. Now suppose you happen to be the top man. There's a point where you don't exercise the faculty of judgment in the ordinary way, but simply the faculty of arbitrary decision. You say, 'Well, I think we will put the road there,' and you trace it with your finger and you know in your secret heart, and no one else knows, that you have no reason for putting the road there rather than in several other different courses, but you're the only person that knows that you don't know why you're doing it and you've got to stick to that and you've got to pretend that you know and that you did it for specific reasons, even though you're utterly assailed by doubts at times as to the wisdom of your decision, because all these other possible decisions keep echoing in your ear. But when you're planning a new enterprise on a grand scale, the people under you mustn't ever know or guess that you're in any doubt, because they've all got to have something to look up to and they mustn't ever dream that you're in doubt about any decision." Thalberg's unshakable self-possession would make 1932 his most accomplished year, but not without casualties, among them Fitzgerald. -"Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince" (2009) by Mark A. Vieira

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