Peter Bart: Remembering Phil Spector’s Career-Ending ‘The Last Movie’

Though renowned for his music, Phil Spector also harbored an ambition to direct and produce movies, and in 1966 asked me to drop by his house so he could explain his plan. At the time, I was a reporter covering politics for The New York Times in Los Angeles and had met Spector at a political party.

Spector, then 25, was already pallid and rather fragile in appearance. He lived in an imposing Edwardian mansion and, as I approached, I saw Spector’s limousine parked outside. It bore a bumper sticker stating ‘Send Batman to Vietnam.”

Once inside, I could see several young women frolicking in his pool.  Spector was cordial. He told me his first movie would be titled The Last Movie and would be ‘an art movie.’ “I am an admirer of Truffaut, Kubrick, and Fellini,” he said.

The Last Movie would be a contemporary western, he told me, and would shoot in Mexico. Dennis Hopper (from Easy Rider) would direct and Spector was approaching Jane Fonda and Jason Robards to star.  “If the studios don’t finance it, I will,” he told me.

A butler arrived with apple pie and root beer.  “You might check the teeny boppers in the pool and see if they want some,” Spector advised.

I asked Spector if his lack of experience in movies concerned him. He replied “If anything, it will help  I need a new creative outlet so movies will be my next career.”  Producing hits like Da Doo Ron Ron was no longer satisfying, he said.

Spector was unable to get studio funding. Production of The Last Movie was stalled until 1969, when Easy Rider became a hit. But The Last Movie itself was a disaster and ended Spector’s producing career. He was not listed as a coproducer, never told me how much money he lost, and never tried to produce another movie, to my knowledge.

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