Amazon Celebrates the Fitzgerald’s

I’m a big fan of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, their writing alone makes them an incredibly intriguing couple. However, look behind their work and you’ll discover a world even more fascinating. Both were a huge part of the modern world of the late 1910s to the 1930s and F. Scott in particular blazed his way through the literary world of the time. I will not spoil the story, or explain why Zelda was never as successful, because of a particular tv show Amazon Prime may be producing for the future.

I say ‘may’ because Amazon have recently released a series of pilots on their Prime Videos section and it’s up to the public to watch them and give their feedback before they decide which ones to go forward with. And what’s even better, you don’t need a Prime account to watch them, just a box standard Amazon account. I discovered this over the weekend and had a quick look through them, discovering not one, but two Fitzgerald based dramas.

Z, The Beginning of Everything

Z, The Beginning of Everything

The first is Z, The Beginning of Everything starring Christina Ricci as Zelda Sayre, later to become Zelda Fitzgerald. The name of the show is taken from the quote “I love her, and that’s the beginning and end of everything”, which F. Scott wrote in a letter to a friend when explaining how he felt about Zelda. I think this says everything about their relationship, it was incredibly passionate, both in a good way and in a bad. They consumed each other, the sort of love teenage girls dream of but wouldn’t probably choose if they knew the flip side of it.

Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald

The story is focused around Zelda’s life, something I’m really glad about because so often her husband takes the centre stage. It’s very much based on the biography ‘Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald’ by Therese Anne Fowler, which I’m yet to read but is in my big pile of books waiting to be devoured. I have read the odd comment that the Amazon pilot deviates a little bit from the truth but don’t they always? At the end of the day the producers need to create something that is watchable.

Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald

Christina Ricci, despite being a lot older than the 18 year old Zelda, brings the character to life as a thrill-seeking, rebellious and very modern young woman. She loves nothing more than going out dancing and flirting with boys and is desperate to leave her very conservative upbringing and sleepy town. It’s a classic ‘small town girl sets off for a better life’ story that’s been told time and time again by Hollywood but this time the girl isn’t fictional. Zelda was real and had real dreams of making something of herself, but at 18 she had no idea what that was.

F Scott Fitzgerald, Z

Zelda is intelligent, well read and longs for a companion who she can share her thoughts and ideas with. Enter F. Scott Fitzgerald, played by Gavin Stenhouse. He doesn’t make an appearance until later on in the 30 minutes pilot but he certainly makes an impact when he does. All of the other young men are depicted as only being interested in one thing, getting the girl, but Fitzgerald is different. He’s calm and collected and is engrossed in a book whilst all around him are drinking and flirting.

The chemistry between the couple is immediate from the moment they meet and I cannot wait to see what’s to come, assuming Amazon do produce it as a series. As you can imagine, the late 1910s costumes are gorgeous. I love this period, just before the hems went higher and the necklines crept lower, because you can see how the stiffness of the Victorian style is slowly disappearing.

I personally loved this pilot, despite it being so short, but I know there are others who aren’t so sure. The southern American accents have been widely criticised but this doesn’t bother me as I have no idea how it should sound anyway. The occasional deviation from the true story has also received a few raised eyebrows. However, this is a beautiful and very enjoyful beginning of everything.

The Last Tycoon

The second Amazon TV show is The Last Tycoon, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel of the same name. It’s set in a 1930s Hollywood studio and focuses on the career and love life of Monroe Stahr, played by Matt Bomer. Stahr, a top Hollywood producer, is believed to be based on Irving Thalberg, Norma Shearer’s husband. His rival and boss, Pat Brady is played by Frasier star Kelsey Grammer, with Lily Collins playing his daughter Cecelia.

Matt Bomer & Lily Collins

This show feels bigger than Z, which makes me believe Amazon are probably much more serious about this one. The sets are more lavish and the production is much more thought out. It has a real feeling of the time period it’s set in, with little nods to the production of films made during this era. The colours are sumptuous and create the perfect atmosphere for each scene.

Lily Collins The Last Tycoon

The costumes are quite breathtaking and I swear I’ve seen the crochet dress above before. Oh yes, that’s right, I own the pattern!! (It’s available on Etsy). Seriously, if anything is going to inspire me to really knuckle down and conquer crocheting then it has to be this. I actually sat up straight, right on the edge of my seat, when Lily Collins walked in wearing it!

Matt Bomer & Lily Collins

The only thing that irks me about the women’s costumes, especially Lily Collins’, is the shape of most of the skirts. They are much more clingy and curve inwards more towards the knee. This is much more reminiscent of 1950s wiggle skirts than the classic 1930s shape. I know Lily Collins is super skinny but a more authentic silhouette would just make these clothes that extra bit special.

The men, on the other hand, have some really fabulous suits. I particularly fell in love with a light coloured one Kelsey Grammer wore towards the end. It was so typical of the time, double breasted, super wide shoulders and wide leg, turn up trousers. I just wish I could’ve found a photo of it to include here.

Matt Bomer plays Monroe Stahr with a real 1930s suave, very reminiscent of stars like Cary Grant. There’s also a humour in him that reminds me of William Powell. And he certainly looks the part too, and great eye candy!

Lily Collins The Last Tycoon

The Last Tycoon is actually one of the few Fitzgerald books I haven’t read, so I knew nothing about the story. So far it’s very intriguing and the ending certainly left me wanting so much more. It weaves in very poignant issues of the time, such as the Depression and the rise of Nazi Germany. It shows a side of the German power that I’d not considered before, how they affected Hollywood.

Kelsey Gramer The Last Tycoon

It’s also really great to see people who had lost everything during the Depression depicted in something so big. I think the last time that happened was in the Doctor Who episode ‘Daleks Take Manhattan’. The Last Tycoon, just like Doctor Who, shows a Hooverville full of desolate families who would do anything just for something to eat. The one in this is built adjacent to the Hollywood tycoon’s movie lot, so you can just imagine how that goes down with the big boss.

The Last Tycoon is an hour long and it keeps you gripped the whole time. Z, The Beginning of Everything is definitely slower, which suits the late 1910s. However, I would hope, as they progress in the more fervent 1920s, the pace will be upped to match the mood of the time.

I honestly loved both of these shows and would love for Amazon to produce them both into their own series. And I’ve already left my feedback saying so! I don’t currently have an Amazon Prime account but I’d certainly consider signing up for their monthly package just to watch these while they’re on. I have no idea how long either pilots are available for, so if you do want to watch them, then be quick before they become unavailable to the non-Prime customers.

If any of you have seen either of these I’d love to know what you thought of them.

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

31 Comments

  1. Oh! I’m going to watch these for certain! I’ve read several Fitzgerald (The great American novelist!) book and countless short stories and I to be quite honest I know more about Zelda than I do her husband.
    The second picture sounds intriguing about the rival of the greatest producer and mogul that’s ever lived even though from your description and and photograph stills it sounds farby. I’m glad you mentioned these pictures, I wouldn’t have even known about them and I quite like to watch things as these!

    • Me too Krystle, as soon as I spotted them I knew I’d like them. Enjoy your viewing! xx

  2. The Last Tycoon sounds brilliant, and I can picture you so easily in those 1930s dresses.

    I’ve got a copy of Save Me the Waltz, but don’t know much about Zelda beyond that she seemed to have a very sad life in the end. One of those people who sparkled briefly but hard.

    • Yes, as I was watching The Last Tycoon I was making lots of mental notes of the clothes and accessories. There’s a particularly gorgeous black bag Lily Collins uses at one point that I really want to make. xx

      • I hadn’t realised till lunchtime – it’s the same costumer who did such a fantastic job on Mad Men (Janie Bryant). She was brilliant at signalling emotions/relationships through costumes in that, which makes me wonder if she’ll do the same for this programme. Apparenlty she bought a lot of original vintage for it, but designed a lot of 30s style-stuff as well.

        • Oh, I didn’t know that! Well that pretty much confirms just how serious Amazon are about this show. I have to say, I did notice a little bit of the emotions/relationships thing coming through. The scene where Kelsey Grammer wears his light coloured double breasted suit was very much him showing his wealth and power. The shoulders alone showed that!

  3. I have only watched the beginning of everything so far. Actually I diddnt understand why there was only one episode available. Thanks for clearing that up. I really enjoyed the show, it showed great promise so I hope they do make the series. At the end of the episode I was desperate to watch the next one to see what happens!

  4. these look divine….. thank you for the share – that crochet dress looks divine….. its now on my wish list! (I crochet – but like sewing, you end up wanting to make more than there is time for!)

    • I know that’s my worry taking on a new challenge. I never have enough time to do all of the sewing projects I want to do, never mind adding crocheting into the mix!

  5. That rust coloured dress!!! 🙂

    Thank you very much for introducing me to these awesome sounding series. It’s really cool that Amazon has entered the world of TV show production – fingers crossed that both of these are picked up.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

    • It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? I love the high neck line and the cable knit style detail on the front. I would wear this, and everything else, in a heartbeat! xx

  6. I just saw Z, but there was only one episode and I haven’t heard of The Last Tycoon. Sounds GREAT. Gorgeous costumes, hair, and make-up to say the least! Great reviews!

    • They’re both just pilots at the moment. Hopefully Amazon will end up producing both as full season shows.

  7. I like the sound of both of these, I am going to take a look. Wish I had read this last night, I was tired, too tired to read or knit!, and just wanted to watch an hour of tv before bed but I couldn’t find anything to interest me! The costumes look marvellous. That crochet dress is a wonder!

    • Oh no, that’s a shame. If you ever feel like that again just message me as I’m sure I can suggest something! That crochet dress will be mine!! xx

  8. I am literally drooling all over my keyboard right now with the images from that last potential show…WOW!! I hope that will become a reality. Thanks for pointing them out and fingers crossed it all works out.

    Liz 🙂

    • Hehehe! Yes, I was a bit like that when I was watching it. I made lots and lots of mental notes of things I wanted to make. Can’t wait to see what other costumes they have in store. xx

  9. Oh my goodness! I have The Last Tycoon queued already but I didn’t know about Z. I’ll certainly watch them both now, but the Last Tycoon really grabbed me just from that small clip. It looks VERY high quality and I’m a sucker for someone as handsome and dapper as Matt Bomer. A perfect fit to play a suave ’30s gentleman. I’ll be watching tonight!

    • Matt Bomer fits this show so perfectly, it’s as if he’s destined to become a 1930s heartthrob. Do let me know what you think of it when you’ve watched it. xx

  10. You always have your finger on the pulse of the best-dressed period TV shows! I would watch both of these, goes without saying!!

    • Hehehe, yes, I do love my period dramas! I know you’d totally love The Last Tycoon and would be swooning at all of the costumes and the sets in the background. There’s some seriously gorgeous pieces of furniture. xx

  11. Great costumes! For anybody wanting to make that crocheted dress, it’s actually a little bit different than the etsy pattern. If you look up the Crocheted Cotton Lace Dress pattern at free vintage crochet, you can get the exact pattern (two-tone, with collar, and belt with buttons, instead of rings).

      • You’re welcome! The other pattern doesn’t have the collar, so is missing some of the charm, for me.

  12. Forgot to say, that ivory and black bias-cut gown looks as though it was inspired by the one Joan Crawford wore in Grand Hotel.

    • Oh yes, it does, I hadn’t spotted that. Perhaps that’s where the designer took her inspiration from. xx

      • The photo of Joan in that dress, in front of the revolving door is stunning, I have always remembered it.

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