Kathleen chooses her fiancee over Monroe, and his work suffers. After getting in a fistfight with the writers' union representative, he gets suspended indefinitely by the Board of Directors. His fate is left unknown.
Set in the 1930s, Monroe Stahr (Robert DeNiro) is the studio head of International World Films. He runs the studio like a dictator, and he makes all of his employees, as well as the IWF Board of Directors, do what he wants. Because of the constant stress he brings upon himself, his health is beginning to deteriorate. Throughout the movie, the workaholic studio head bounces between film shoots with diva actresses and incompetent directors, left-leaning writers who want to unionize, and the advances of Cecilia (Theresa Russell), the daughter of board member Pat Brady (Robert Mitchum), who is home from college for the summer and doesn't want to go back. Monroe doesn't love her; has his eyes on Kathleen Moore (Ingrid Boulting), a young woman with a troubled past and a fiancee.
Monroe's fascination with Kathleen borders on obsession, and she constantly tells him that they can't be together. However, the self-admitted "weak woman" cannot resist him, and she is forced to make a choice between him and her fiancee, who is currently out of town on business. After they spend the night together at his unfinished beach house, and she appears ready to choose Monroe, Kathleen notifies him the next day with a telegram that her fiancee came back to town and they are now married. Crushed from the loss of his obsession, Monroe's work begins to suffer. The always available Monroe suddenly becomes distant to his employees, his demands become rather unusual, and he now outright ignores the requests of the Board of Directors, but does agree to their demand that Monroe deal with the writers wanting to unionize.
After putting it off for some time, Monroe finally meets with Brimmer (Jack Nicholson), the organizer of the writers' union, who is also a devout Communist. The meeting is at the home of Pat Brady, and Cecilia is there to assist the men during their negotiations. Because he is still recovering from the loss of Kathleen, Monroe is drinking heavily all throughout the meeting, which concerns Cecilia. During a break in the negotiations, the very intoxicated Monroe decides the only way to deal with Brimmer is to fight him. Brimmer doesn't want to fight Monroe, but after Monroe throws the first punch, Brimmer knocks him out with one punch. Brimmer apologizes for his behavior and leaves. Cecilia gets Monroe into a spare room of the house and puts him to bed. Even though she still has feelings for him, Cecilia finally realizes that they will never be together and prepares to go back to college. Unbeknownst to both of them, Pat was following the negotiations from another part of the house and saw everything, including the fight with Brimmer.
The next morning, Pat tells a hungover Monroe that there is an emergency board meeting that day and his presence is required. Once he arrives at the boardroom, he is told by Pat and the other board members that the union will still agree to negotiate with IWF, but not with Monroe. The board has also unanimously decided that, due to his recent work performance and his health, Monroe needs a rest and his ordered to take a long break from his job, essentially an indefinite suspension. The last scene has Monroe walking through the studio lot one last time and enters a darkened studio. Once inside, he ...
F. Scott Fitzgerald died before he finished the novel this movie is based on. In tribute, the movie has an unresolved ending by not revealing Monroe Stahr's fate.