The respected and feared Darryl F. Zanuck ran his studio, Twentieth Century-Fox, like a Swiss watch and devised entertainment for the masses, including bright musicals starring Fox blondes Alice Faye, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, even Shirley Temple. He commandeered technologically innovative epics (The Robe, the movies’ first CinemaScope production), combined with serious dramas about beleaguered families (The Grapes of Wrath) and social issue films (Gentleman’s Agreement).
A new book has been published on Zanuck, written by Scott Eyman, the award-winning author of fifteen books about the movies, three of which have been New York Times bestsellers. Five movies reflecting Zanuck’s brilliance as a producer will be screened Wednesday evening on Turner Classic Movies starting at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific.
“Being a great studio head wasn’t just planning,” shares Eyman in an email. “It was about being nimble, an improviser.”
How was that manifest? Eyman gives plum examples:
“Pulling William Wyler off How Green Was My Valley, and getting John Ford to direct, Zanuck cut a third act from the script in which McDowell’s character would be an adult. Probably Tyrone Power would have played it.Scott Eyman, author
“When Claudette Colbert dropped out of All About Eve, Zanuck made a positive out of a negative, upped the ante and got Bette Davis, who was better than Colbert could possibly have been.”
20TH CENTURY-FOX: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Creation of the Modern Film Studio
20TH CENTURY-FOX: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Creation of the Modern Film Studio bears the imprimatur of TCM, through its publishing associate, Running Press. TCM’s Senior Vice President of Programming, Charles Tabesh, has known and respected Eyman for years. “Scott is one of the most important film historians alive and his books consistently entertain and inform anyone interested in classic movies,” says Tabesh.
“That’s exactly what we try to do at TCM,” he continues. “So it’s always great when we can work together towards our mutual goal. Scott has done an incredible job with his comprehensive history of 20th Century-Fox. We’re proud to be featuring him on the channel to explore the Fox legacy and his wonderful new book.”
TCM’s Wednesday-evening line-up, with introductions, includes a cornucopia of five classic High-Hollywood movies. Eyman’s goal in making his selections? “I want to give a sense of Zanuck’s creative wingspan,” he says. Beyond the two titles pictured above, the Zanuck/Fox tribute screening event includes: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Nightmare Alley and Down Argentine Way to close the roster with a Technicolor bang.
Zanuck/Fox tribute evening | Turner Classic Movies | Wed Oct 6 starts 8 pm Eastern / 5 pm Pacific