Social Concerns / Themes

Fitzgerald's experiences as a screenwriter from 1937 until his death, and his previous work on the screenplays of Tender Is the Night, Red-Headed Woman, and other works during the 1920s and 1930s gave him the basis for his last work. He patterned his central character, the producer Monro Stahr, after the famous boy-genius Irving Thalberg, but Stahr is an embodiment of the heroic aspects of the Thalberg legend, not an actual portrait of Thalberg. Fitzgerald envisioned Stahr as the rare Hollywood mogul with taste and courage who could elevate the typical studio product into an artistic statement while still making money. Stahr shares Fitzgerald's commitment to traditional values and the fundamental ideals of American culture, and Fitzgerald may have been trying to record his vision of what was best in America before the turmoil of the coming war permanently altered the landscape. As Fitzgerald admitted, he was growing nostalgic for a "lavish romantic past."

Fitzgerald's choice of a Jewish man was certainly influenced by Thalberg's background, but he may also have been trying to compensate for some of the idle, unknowing, and off-hand comments he had made about Jewish people in some of his previous books. He called it a "fortuitous circumstance" that American Jews were "somewhat uncertain in their morale" in the 1930s, but his lifelong dedication to progressive political positions must have had something to do with his emphasis at a time when the...

(The entire section is 375 words.)