When the Fox Film Corporation merged with Twentieth Century Pictures in 1935, the company posed little threat to industry juggernauts such as Paramount and MGM. In the years that followed however, guided by executives Darryl F. Zanuck and Spyros Skouras, it soon emerged as one of the most important studios. Though working from separate offices in New York and Los Angeles and often of two different minds, the two men navigated Twentieth Century-Fox through the trials of the World War II boom, the birth of television, the Hollywood Blacklist, and more to an era of exceptional success, which included what was then the highest grossing movie of all time, The Sound of Music.
Twentieth Century-Fox is a comprehensive examination of the studio’s transformation during the Zanuck-Skouras era. Instead of limiting his scope to the Hollywood production studio, Lev also delves into the corporate strategies, distribution models, government relations, and technological innovations that were the responsibilities of the New York headquarters. Moving chronologically, he examines the corporate history before analyzing individual films produced by Twentieth Century-Fox during that period. Drawn largely from original archival research, Twentieth Century-Fox offers not only enlightening analyses and new insights into the films and the history of the company, but also affords the reader a unique perspective from which to view the evolution of the entire film industry.
Peter Lev is Professor of Electronic Media and Film at Towson University. He has authored or coedited five previous books of film history, including American Films of the 70s: Conflicting Visions. In addition to receiving an Academy Scholars Grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he has also received the Jim Welsh Award for Outstanding Achievement in Adaptation Studies from the Literature/Film Association.
...Lev's consistently illuminating book joins the first rank of Hollywood studio histories. Summing up: Highly recommended.
[Twentieth Century Fox] contributes in redressing the imbalance in American film histories that has skewed them toward the studios' creative activities on the West Coast while ignoring the East Coast financiers that kept the show going and, in many cases, guided Hollywood's politics from behind the scenes.
~Journal of Modern Greek Studies
This is a terrific book—wide-ranging, informative, and accessible—that brings together a group of subjects and strengths that are rarely joined in film studies. . . . Lev unfolds a vivid, dramatic story of Fox’s triumphs and vicissitudes over a thirty-year period, emphasizing at different points every aspect of the studio’s history from its shifting financial fortunes to the distribution of its products. . . . Film scholars will find that Lev consistently engages earlier work on the studio without duplicating it; nonspecialists approaching the subject for the first time will find Lev an accessible and reliable guide.
~Thomas Leitch, Professor of English, University of Delaware; author of Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From Gone With the Wind to The Passion of the Christ
This is a carefully researched, well-written book—a valuable historical resource for information on the business end of Twentieth Century-Fox and for an analysis of some of the studio’s major films. . . . Although there are some good books on Darryl Zanuck, and some histories of Fox, no one has written as comprehensively as Lev has, nor has anyone emphasized the New York business side along with the LA production side.
~Joanna E. Rapf, Professor of English and Film, University of Oklahoma; coeditor of The Blackwell Companion to Film Comedy
Chapter 1: The Merger, 1935–1939
Chapter 2: Wartime Prosperity, 1940–1945
Chapter 3: Peak Achievements, 1946–1950
Chapter 4: A Slow Decline, 1951–1960
Chapter 5: Bust and Boom, 1961–1965
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