The truth was that toward the end, Fitzgerald was struggling to give up the booze, much as depicted in the 2002 TV movie ‘‘Last Call,’’ starring Jeremy Irons as the author as he works on ‘‘The Last Tycoon.’’
‘‘He generally was fighting for sobriety,’’ Feeney said. ‘‘He had a few lapses, but he was three-fourths sober the way the earth is three-fourths water.’’
Adapted into a film itself, starring Robert De Niro, ‘‘The Love of the Last Tycoon’’ was inspired by studio wunderkind Irving Thalberg and could have restored Fitzgerald’s reputation had he lived to finish it.
Instead, it took a gradual rediscovery by readers and Hollywood alike to pull Fitzgerald out of oblivion. Since the author’s death, Alan Ladd and Robert Redford preceded DiCaprio in the title role of versions of ‘‘The Great Gatsby,’’ while Brad Pitt starred in 2008’s Fitzgerald adaptation ‘‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’’ based on one of his short stories.
‘‘In some ways, it’s the kind of ending, a reclamation that he probably would have appreciated,’’ said Kirk Curnutt, an English professor at Troy University in Montgomery, Ala., and author of ‘‘A Historical Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald’’ and ‘‘The Cambridge Introduction to F. Scott Fitzgerald.’’
‘‘He certainly would have rather died famous and at the top of his craft, but there was something very self-defeating about Fitzgerald. He tended to perpetuate his failures in some ways. So story-wise, his revitalization of the past 60 years, it’s a fitting sort of Gatsby-esque ending.’’