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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 Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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