TV shows

‘The Last Tycoon’ is a refreshingly nostalgia-free look at 1930s Hollywood

The Amazon Prime show teems with secrets that are waiting to explode.

The Last Tycoon, the new show on Amazon Prime, is a sumptuous dip into 1930s Hollywood, often dubbed the golden age of American cinema. This was the time of colossal stardom when screen gods and goddesses could reach, for the first time, the far corners of the world on colour film in simple-minded tales that spoke to honesty, goodwill and love.

The situation on the sets, though, could not be more different. Based on F Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel, the show is set on a fictional studio that is facing financial difficulties since the death of its most bankable star Minna Davis. Kelsey Grammer stars as Pat Brady, the studio’s mercurial owner. The Depression has made matters worse and so has the presence of Adolf Hitler’s emissaries in Hollywood, smooth-talking men using the power of pelf to censor movies.

Brady’s blue-eyed boy, Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer) is the quintessential movie man – his golden touch can rescue any film from disaster and everyone on the lot – from the writers to Brady’s daughter Celia (Lily Collins) – is eager to please him. A Jew, he also happens to be the husband of Minna whose memory shapes his days and colors his visions. It is his wish to make a grand tribute to his dead wife, a project that Brady is happy to bankroll.

Enter the Nazis. George Gyssling (Michael Sibbery) won’t allow the studio to make a film on a star who was married to a Jew, and with Germany being the second largest foreign market for Hollywood films, every producer in Los Angeles is eager to appease him. The Last Tycoon expertly brings out the capitulation of Hollywood moguls to a bunch of bullies who hold the purse strings.

The Last Tycoon.

There are other political overtones. Unionisation is a dirty word on the lot, but secret meetings organised after hours to demand better wages see an increasing number of studio personnel mark their attendance. When Brady decides to cut everyone’s salary by 30% to tide over the financial crisis, he is met with strident arguments denouncing capitalism, forcing him to ultimately rescind the pay cut.

Even so, the show is much more than politics. Focused almost entirely on Monroe’s joys and pains, it still manages to branch off in several directions each of which yields satisfying narrative arcs. Celia grows from a girl with a crush on Monroe to a woman who fights to come into her own as a producer, much against her father’s wishes. Her mother Rose (Rosemarie DeWitt) battles intense loneliness and ends up having an affair. When that ends, she dissolves into quiet desperation, making for some of the best acting you will see this year.

And there is Kathleen Moore (Dominique McElligott) from Wisconsin, come to Hollywood with dreams in her eyes, working as a waitress in a diner close to the lot. She catches Monroe’s eye, and her Irish accent and resemblance to Minna ensure that a romance blossoms. Is everything as innocent as it looks? As with a parallel storyline about a biracial actress who passes for white, The Last Tycoon teems with secrets that are waiting to explode.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Some of the most significant innovations in automotive history made their debut in this iconic automobile

The latest version features India's first BS VI norms-compliant engine and a host of 'intelligent' features.

The S-Class, also known as Sonderklasse or special class, represents Mercedes Benz’ top-of-the-line sedan line up. Over the decades, this line of luxury vehicles has brought significant automotive technologies to the mainstream, with several firsts to its credit and has often been called the best car in the world. It’s in the S-Class that the first electronic ESP and ABS anti-lock braking system made their debut in the 20th century.

Twenty first-century driver assistance technologies which predict driver-behaviour and the vehicle’s course in order to take preventive safety measures are also now a staple of the S-Class. In the latest 2018 S-Class, the S 350 d, a 360-degree network of cameras, radars and other sensors communicate with each other for an ‘intelligent’ driving experience.

The new S-Class systems are built on Mercedes Benz’s cutting-edge radar-based driving assistance features, and also make use of map and navigation data to calculate driving behaviour. In cities and on other crowded roads, the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC helps maintain the distance between car and the vehicle in front during speeds of up to 210 kmph. In the same speed range, Active Steering Assist helps the driver stay in the centre of the lane on stretches of straight road and on slight bends. Blind Spot Assist, meanwhile, makes up for human limitations by indicating vehicles present in the blind spot during a lane change. The new S-Class also communicates with other cars equipped with the Car-to-X communication system about dicey road conditions and low visibility due to fog, rain, accidents etc. en route.

The new S-Class can even automatically engage the emergency system when the driver is unable to raise an alarm. Active Emergency Stop Assist brings the car to a stop if it detects sustained periods of inactivity from the driver when Active Steering Assist is switched on. If the driver doesn’t respond to repeated visual and audible prompts, it automatically activates the emergency call system and unlocks the car to provide access to first responders.

The new Mercedes-Benz S 350 d in India features another notable innovation – the country’s first BS VI norms-compliant car engine, in accordance with government regulations to control vehicular pollution. Debuting two years before the BS VI deadline of 2020, the S 350 d engine also remains compatible with the current BS IV fuels.

The S 350 d is an intelligent car made in India, for Indian roads - in the Mercedes Benz S-Class tradition. See the video below to know what drives the S-Class series by Mercedes Benz.

To know more about the 2018 S-Class, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mercedes Benz and not by the Scroll editorial team.