‘The Comeback Trail’ Summary & Ending, Explained – Thin Hollywood Story


If anyone would make a film about Hollywood’s biggest struggle then it would be about the hardships of making your own film. The Comeback Trail is no different. The story spotlights a washed-out director/producer whose last few films were disastrous. In the hope of making some impact this time, he is looking out for finances but his previous debtors are hunting him down. Will he be able to make a film in such chaos? Let’s find out

‘The Comeback Trail’ Summary

The film begins in Hollywood, 1974. Max Barber (Robert De Niro) is an optimistic producer/director who took money from a gangster Reggie Fontaine (Morgan Freeman) to fund his picture, Killer Nuns. Due to Catholic Outrage, the film fails to see footfalls in theatre and ends up as a disaster. Max now owes 3,50,000 dollars to Reggie, an amount he needs to pay before he can produce his next movie. Reggie gives him 72 hours to arrange the money.

Max visits another producer James Moore (Emile Hirsch) to borrow money from him but James puts down a condition in exchange for money. He wants Max’s priceless script ‘Paradise’ and for it, he is ready to pay 10 million to Max.

Max without an option agrees at first but when he witnesses James’s casting choices for his dream script, he gets scared. The star of James’s film dies on the first day of the shoot due to an accidental mishap. The insurance company pays off James Moore 5 million dollars as insurance money. The idea clicks to Max and he engineers a devilish plan inside his crooked mind.

Max firstly bails out from James’s plan and cancels the contract to sell him his script. He then convinces Reggie to make another picture with him taking a washed-out action star named Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones). Max speculates that Duke is a hot-head fool who will argue to do all his stunts on set and in the process will lose his life accidentally. They will generate the insurance money in a similar scenario that happened with James Moore. Reggie smells money in Max’s twisted plan and invests further.

The shooting for “The Oldest Gun in the West” begins. Each day Max tries to create accidents on set that would kill Duke Montana but he is a hard nut to crack. He dodges all the hurdles and stands tall till the end. The film further explores Reggie and Max, and their struggle to kill Duke so as to reap the insurance money.

Major Spoilers Ahead

‘The Comeback Trail’ Ending Explained

When everything fails, Reggie finally visits the set and tries to shoot Duke Montana. Max, who had grown an emotional attachment with Duke and the film tries to stop Reggie but his efforts are futile. It is when Max’s nephew, Walter Creason plays the rushes of the film on the big screen. Watching Duke Montana in action kindles Reggie’s own fanboy moment from the past for Duke. He starts shedding tears like a kid. Reggie cherishes the work of Max and Duke and requests them to finish the film.

Max finishes off the climax scene with Duke and the film is premiered with everyone in love with the picture. Max gets a multi-picture deal and all his problems are sorted. When Duke arrives at the premiere, Max invites him inside but Duke reminds Max, his fear of the crowd. Duke takes the horse and leaves for the desert in peace.

Duke who was spending his days in isolation inside an old-age home wanted an outlet to come out. This picture was his reason and his medium. It liberated his artistic soul.

The Comeback Trail offers nothing superior in terms of narrative. It’s just another tale of washed-out Hollywood actors and directors. The film indulges in various insider jokes and comedy but none of them seem new. The story is light-hearted and the characters are enjoying themselves. Their energy tickles you too but overall it fails to give away any psychological or emotional impact.

The Comeback Trail is a 2021 comedy-drama film directed by George Gallo. The film is currently running in Theatres.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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