Having seen this movie one time in 1984, I was surprised at how much of it came back to me as I was watching it. The unpleasant dynamics of the married couple unraveling and the mental cruelty to their own child was instantly recalled and regretted. When I first saw this, I did not have kids and now my kids are adults so you would think I could laugh off the comic elements a little bit more easily, I can’t. This is a movie that sets up a romance and develops it nicely and then shows how selfishness and Hollywood success can turn something sour very quickly. It is not subtle or shy about it’s point of view but it also does little to make us anything but angry at the shallowness of two characters that we might have cared for more in another movie.
This film was apparently based on the story of director Peter Bogdanovich. It is pretty easy to see the roots in this supposed expose of Hollywood. A young couple who work together to make a movie that is a critical and financial success are torn apart by the husbands affair with the beautiful actress that he discovers and featured in the film. After divorcing, he makes an indulgent musical which flops, the girl leaves him and his career is mostly dead. Now substitute “Americam Romance” for “The Last Picture Show”, replace Cybil Shepard with Sharon Stone, and make the musical a remake of “Gone with the Wind” named “Atlanta” instead of a Cole Porter based film named “At Long Last Love” and you have the basis for the story.