TWENTIETH CENTURY'S FOX

DARRYL F. ZANUCK AND THE CULTURE OF HOLLYWOOD

An effective, in-depth evaluation of the life and work of the master movie mogul. One increasingly circulated variation on the auteur theory holds that certain remarkable producers, like Zanuck, have had a profound shaping influence on the movies they oversaw. But even in these terms, Zanuck enjoyed a remarkable, perhaps unique career. With close to 1,000 movies to his credit, he painstakingly crafted (working at an extraordinary level of detail) an unprecedented string of noteworthy—and usually successful—films, from All About Eve to The Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley. As Custen (Performing Arts/CUNY, Staten Island) notes, Zanuck ``would not give up the belief that although filmmaking was a collaborative enterprise, ultimately he and he alone possessed the judgment to successfully run the machinery of storytelling and to regulate the enterprise surrounding it.'' Zanuck was also responsible for any number of cinematic milestones. From the first major talkie, The Jazz Singer, to the first gangster movies, to Cinemascope, he had a sixth sense for surprising the public with its own unsuspected wants. As Custen demonstrates, Zanuck, an artiste among businessmen, was quite unlike any of the other men who ran studios. He came to Hollywood during the Silent Era, vaguely determined to be a writer. His real break came with his creation of the Rin Tin Tin series. From there he giddily ascended to the control of his own studio at the age of 31, a position he maintained until he was in his 50s, when in the fit of a middle-age crisis he moved to Europe and pursued a peripatetic and priapic existence, producing occasional movies as the mood took him. While Custen's story has great legs, his writing suffers from feet of clay—he can't resist constantly repeating himself. Nonetheless, a significant reappraisal of a major, often neglected, moviemaker. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-465-07619-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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