A quick note on Scott Eyman’s ’20th Century Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the creation of the Modern Film Studio’

I wizzed through this yesterday. A highly readable, chronological account that gives a good overview of the studio. I sometimes quibbled with his opinions of particular films, though not often, mainly because this is a book that doesn’t deal much with particular films. It’s an overview of the studio, focussing mainly on personalities (Fox, the Zanucks) and technology (primarily CinemaScope). I also didn’t find any errors…and still. It feels a thin book, one based on secondary research done by an assistant and whose only primary research seems to be conversations with a handful of personalities (and really I don’t think it’s wise to take what Evie Johnson says at face value). On the other hand, the Lev and Wasser books on Fox, so rich and detailed, also seem less rounded an overview than this one (the Lev book focusses only on the years 35-65 but feels fragmentary even taking that into account). I’m a fan of Eyman and I’ve read most of his books. His latest before this, only last year, a very good one on Cary Grant. Is he writing too much, too quickly? The books with Wagner, enjoyable as they were, were good for movie star books. The book on the friendship between James Stewart and Henry Fonda was excellent for film buffs. But this is a writer who’s written important, enriching works on Lubitsch (my favourite of his books, from 1993), Ford, De Mille , Louis B. Mayer and so many others; and this feels like a come-down. On the other hand, it’s an erudite, fast-paced and well-written overview that is a pleasure to read. It would make an excellent gift for a sixteen year-old film buff.

José Arroyo

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