F. Scott Fitzgerald was never well-served by Hollywood. It was a love/hate relationship that he explored in seventeen acerbic short stories about a down-on-his-luck screenwriter named Pat Hobby. Then there was last year’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a big-budget film not without charm, but with scant connection to the Fitzgerald story upon which it claimed to be based. He was better served by Frances Kroll Ring, his 22-year-old personal secretary during those final months before his death from heart failure in 1940 (at age 44, like Chekhov, which seems more and more unbelievably young, especially as I grow older) when he was working on his never-to-be-completed Hollywood-themed novel The Last Tycoon.
David Ulin in the Los Angeles Times has written a wonderful profile of Ring, now 92 years old. In 1985 she published a brief self-effacing memoir of her time working for Fitzgerald, Against the Current: As I Remember F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book was made into a solid 2002 Showtime movie titled Last Call. British actor Jeremy Irons might seem an unlikely candidate to play the Minnesota-born Fitzgerald, but he’s very effective in the role. The young Frances Kroll Ring is played with appropriate doe-eyed innocence by Neve Campell.