“The Last Tycoon” presents 1930s Tinseltown as the glamorous and romantic place it has always wanted to be remembered as. Filled with beautiful costumes, lavish sets and talented actors this show makes us all yearn for days long gone by.
The Amazon Prime show “The Last Tycoon” stars Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr, and Kelsey Grammer as Pat Brady and is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last and unfinished novel by the same title. “The Last Tycoon” is a romantic drama set in the golden age of the Hollywood studio system.
The drama of the show is staged at Brady American Pictures, owned by Pat Brady, as the company is dealing with the many facets of the 1930s. Surviving the Great Depression, dealing with censorship laws imposed by Nazi Germany, bankers, unions and blackmail is just some of the issues our characters have to endure.
Our protagonist Monroe Stahr is the epitome of a successful movie producer. He is the right-hand man to the studio owner and a protégé. He is rich, famous and married to the beautiful starlet Minna Davis. Stahr is the reflection of what society deems as the archetype of a successful man.
Everything in his life is motion picture perfect, until one day his wife dies in a car accident, caused by none other than our protagonist himself. This might be a plotline taken straight out of any screenwriters manual, but it is not used as a cheap dramatic plotline. “The Last Tycoon” uses this event to give Stahr an inner purpose that drives the whole first session.
We join Stahr and his world two years after the life-changing accident. Stahr is in the process of making the one picture that really matters to him, the picture of his deceased wife, Minna Davis.
“My, my, a beautiful actress, on a beautiful set in my favorite picture,” says Stahr while inspecting costumes on set in the show.
This moment thoroughly captures the essence of the show and the glamorous world we are going to commit the next ten hours of our lives to binge-watch.
As it will soon turn out, his world and picture will be derailed as a result of geopolitical issues on the European continent. The problem is Nazi Germany, who demands that the film’s characters and plot points aline with Nazi German propaganda law.
The decision of Brady American Pictures, and other studios to accept the jurisdiction of Nazi German censorship in Hollywood in exchange of an export license, sets in motion the many plots and twists that make the first season of “The Last Tycoon” worth watching.
“The Last Tycoon” is the American Dream at its core, showcasing people who came from rags to becoming rich and famous, making the show a crossover of soap opera of prime time quality, by merging the world of “The Artist” with the world of “Mad Men”, minus a lot of the sexism. “The Last Tycoon” is truly not “Mad Men,” but rather gentlemen in the golden age of Hollywood.
The idea of gentlemen and ladies at its best and finest is executed in all departments of the production. The costumes are elegantly tailored by costume designer Janie Bryant who also worked on the show, “Mad Men.” The set design is reflecting a glorified 1930s successful Hollywood, and the cinematography makes it all come together in a beautiful mirage of what the 1930s studios tried to portray their world as.
With homages to classic movies, real motion picture studios, famous actors presented with visually stunning cinematography, costume design and set dressing, “The Last Tycoon” is a must watch for anyone who holds Hollywood and its history close to its heart.