December 12, 1997 at 05:00 AM EST

Twentieth Century's Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Culture of Hollywood

Current Status
In Season
George F. Custen
Biography, Movies
We gave it a C+

Twentieth Century’s Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Culture of Hollywood isn’t so much a biography as a defense of Zanuck’s ostensibly tarnished professional reputation. But does the founder of Twentieth Century Fox, who brought us The Grapes of Wrath, All About Eve, and Gentleman’s Agreement, need the boost? George F. Custen claims that Zanuck’s famously vulgar personality — he loved tabloid lingo and extramarital sex in the office — has eclipsed the fact that he also broke new ground in Hollywood films, tackling serious issues like poverty, racism, and anti-Semitism long before it was fashionable to do so. But by downplaying Zanuck’s foibles, Custen diminishes the wild contradictions that made him such a fascinating man. C+

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