One of the most popular pulp novels of the early 1960s was Harold Robbins' The Carpetbaggers, a steamy mix of power, sex, business, and Hollywood. The 1964 movie version was directed by Edward Dmytryk and had an introduction by Joan Collins. Many consumers didn't realize that the playboy-tycoon protagonist played by George Peppard was a parody of Howard Hughes. In this telling, Peppard's friend is a silent film cowboy named Nevada Smith, played by Alan Ladd in his last film role. Carroll Baker has the lead female role. It's a glossy, pandering feast of Hollywood melodrama that succeeds brilliantly in its acerbic portrait of its principal character. Two years later, a prequel called Nevada Smith was released, with Steve McQueen taking Ladd's part; it bombed. But The Carpetbaggers remains a symbol of the heyday of the Hollywood blockbuster.