The Last Tycoon

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The Last Tycoon
The Last Tycoon (1941 1st ed dust jacket).jpg
First edition
Editor Edmund Wilson
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cover artistNeely
CountryUnited States
Publisher Charles Scribner's Sons
Publication date
November 4, 1941 (posthumously)
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages163 (paperback edition)
OCLC 28147241
813/.52 20
LC Class PS3511.I9 L68 1993
Preceded by Tender Is the Night (1934) 

The Last Tycoon is an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1941, it was published posthumously under this title, as prepared by his friend Edmund Wilson, a critic and writer. [1] According to Publishers Weekly, the novel is "generally considered a roman a clef," with its lead character, Monroe Stahr, modeled after film producer Irving Thalberg. [2] The story follows Stahr's rise to power in Hollywood, and his conflicts with rival Pat Brady, a character based on MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer.


It was adapted as a TV play in 1957 and a film in 1976 of the same name, with a screenplay for the motion picture by British dramatist Harold Pinter. Elia Kazan directed the film adaptation; Robert De Niro and Theresa Russell starred.

In 1993, a new version of the novel was published under the title The Love of the Last Tycoon, edited by Matthew Bruccoli, a Fitzgerald scholar. This version was adapted for a stage production that premiered in Los Angeles, California in 1998. In 2013, HBO announced plans to produce an adaptation. HBO cancelled the project and gave the rights to Sony Pictures, which produced and released the television series on Amazon Studios in 2016.

Plot summary

The character of Monroe Stahr was based on Irving Thalberg. Thalberg-portrait-LATimes.jpg
The character of Monroe Stahr was based on Irving Thalberg.

Set in the 1930s, The Last Tycoon traces the life of Hollywood studio manager Monroe Stahr, clearly based on Irving Thalberg (in charge of production at MGM), whom Fitzgerald had encountered several times.

The novel begins with young NYC college student Cecilia Brady (first-person narrator), the daughter of influential Hollywood producer Pat Brady, preparing to fly home to Los Angeles. At the airport, she is surprised to meet an old friend of her father, author Wylie White. White is accompanied by a failed producer introduced as Mr. Schwartz. Due to complications during the flight, they make a forced landing in Nashville, Tennessee. The threesome decide on a spontaneous trip to the historic estate of former President Andrew Jackson, but on arrival the attraction is closed. Wylie then proceeds to flirt shamelessly with Cecilia while Mr. Schwartz is fast asleep. When Schwartz awakens, he informs them that he has changed his mind and will not travel to Los Angeles with them. He asks Wylie to deliver a message to a friend, which he gladly accepts. The next day, Wylie and Cecilia learn that Schwartz committed suicide right after they left Nashville.

Cecilia realizes that the message Schwarz gave to Wylie was in fact for Monroe Stahr, her father's business partner. She has had a crush on Monroe for many years. Cecilia arrives at her father's film studio to pick him up for a birthday party. Due to an unexpected minor earthquake, Cecilia, her father, and his companions all end up in Stahr's office. A water pipe bursts and floods the set. Stahr beholds two women desperately clinging to the head of a statue – finding one of them to be the spitting image of his late wife. The day after, Stahr asks his secretary to identify the girls for him. She presents him with a phone number which he immediately uses to arrange a meeting with one of the girls. Unfortunately, it is not the girl he wished to see; she does not resemble his wife at all. Stahr gives her a ride home, where she insists that he come in and meet her friend (the young Irish-born Kathleen Moore). As soon as Moore opens the front door, Stahr recognizes her to be the woman he had seen the other night.

Kathleen withstands his advances to her and even refuses to tell him her name. It is only when Stahr happens to meet her again at a party that he can convince her to go out and have a cup of coffee with him. He drives her to the building site of his new house in Santa Monica. Kathleen seems reluctant to be with Stahr, but she still ends up having sex with him. A short time afterwards, Stahr receives a letter in which Kathleen confesses to have been engaged to another man for quite some time. She has now decided to marry him despite having fallen in love with Stahr.

Stahr asks Cecilia to arrange for a meeting with a suspected communist who wants to organize a labor union within the film studio. Stahr and Cecilia meet the man over supper where Stahr gets drunk and gets involved in a violent confrontation. Cecilia takes care of him and they grow closer. Cecilia's father, however, becomes more and more unhappy with Stahr as a business partner and has wanted to get rid of him for a long while. He could not approve less of his daughter's fancying him. Brady knows of Stahr's continued affair with the now-married Kathleen and tries to blackmail him into leaving the company. As he fails to achieve his goal via blackmail, he does not even shy away from hiring a professional killer. Stahr survives, and, in retaliation, also appoints a hit man to have Brady killed. Unlike Brady's, Stahr's conscience starts to trouble him. But, just as he contemplates calling the execution off, his plane crashes on its way back to New York City. The contract killer finishes his job unhindered and leaves Cecilia both without a father and without a lover – the two men who meant the world to her.

List of characters

Publication history

The novel was unfinished and in rough form at the time of Fitzgerald's death at age 44. The literary critic and writer Edmund Wilson, a close friend of Fitzgerald, collected the notes for the novel and edited it for publication. The unfinished novel was published in 1941 as The Last Tycoon, by which name it is best known.

In 1993, another version of the novel was published under the title The Love of the Last Tycoon, as part of the Cambridge edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli, a Fitzgerald scholar. Bruccoli reworked the extant seventeen chapters of the thirty-one planned according to his interpretation of the author's notes. At least one reviewer considered Bruccoli's work to be a "remarkable feat of scholarship" and notes that it "restored Fitzgerald's original version and has also restored the narrative's ostensible working title, one that implies that Hollywood is the last American frontier where immigrants and their progeny remake themselves." [2]

Point of view

Fitzgerald wrote the novel in a blend of first person and third person narrations. While the story is ostensibly told by Cecilia, many scenes are narrated in which she is not present. Occasionally a scene will be presented twice, once through Cecilia and once through a third party. [3]


The revised edition of The Love of The Last Tycoon won the Choice Outstanding Academic Books award of 1995.[ citation needed ]


Publication history

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