Step inside the Hollywood dream factory! If you love movies, you won't want to miss this fascinating and fact-filled chronicle of the first 50 years of Twentieth Century Fox. Hosted by James Coburn, this look back at the b... more »irth of a major Hollywood movie studio is packed with 129 minutes worth of clips from over 120 films, revealing interviews, archival footage and fascinating film outtakes. You'll witness the boom times and the hard times. The unforgettable stars and stories. The trend-setting innovations and behind-the-scenes moments. They're here to enjoy as Shirley Temple, Tyrone Power, Betty Grable, Henry Fonda, Marilyn Monroe and more great stars shine...as beloved classics (The Grapes of Wrath, Miracle on 34th Street), musicals (The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!) and little gems (Charlie Chan at the Opera) shape legends and lore...as studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck builds an unforgettable Hollywood dream factory. They're all here. For a movie fan, they're all a dream come true.« less
"I'm usually not a fan of big, blowsy, overblown studio self-tributes, but this is the happy exception! At just over two hours, the documentary is concise, well written, and brilliantly edited. Super-cool James Coburn provides the "voice of god" narration. The title is a little confusing, however. It suggests that the documentary covers only "the first 50 years" (1915-1965) but the program actually acknowledges Fox's history up to the present (although not in as much detail). (By the way, you DO get a brief glimpse of "Star Wars", probably the only footage we're going to see it on DVD for quite awhile!) The "greats" are all here, of course (Grable, Temple, Power, Monroe, "Grapes of Wrath", "All About Eve", "The Longest Day", etc., but so are some of Fox's rarely seen silent offerings ("A Fool There Was", "The Iron Horse", "Sunrise"). The studio's foray into sound is a particular highlight - and proves that it was Fox, not Warner Brothers, who was the first to perfect talking pictures! There are incredible rarities in this program too (footage of Marilyn's last film, Fox's 1950s TV remakes of their classic films, outtakes galore, screen tests, etc.), and the producers didn't shy away from mentioning that the studio also produced its share of bombs ("Wilson" comes to mind). Movie lovers will be happy to know that the DVD edition is pristine. I can hardly believe the picture and sound quality - especially when considering the age and rarity of some of the materials. The DVD also offers more than two hours of bonus materials! (Mostly product reels, but fascinating.) All-in-all, a well crafted, balanced look at one of the last great Hollywood dream factories. Highly enjoyable and informative."
With James Coburn as narrator, you know what to expect
Peter Shelley | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 08/07/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The litmus test for this kind of compilation film is usually the time spent on and the patience you have with lesser known material. Usually titles are lesser known for a reason. However, as this doco runs over 2 hours (It's no joke that one title is The Longest Day), I found myself growing more and more desperate for lesser known material, like a man with a restricted diet. The problem with the films of this particular studio is that their catalogue doesn't contain much of anything that hasn't been featured in similar studies of Hollywood. I mean, how many times have you seen the Shall We Dance number from The King and I! The expectation of seeing The Grapes of Wrath, Shirley Temple, Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, Laura (with the murderer revealed!), All About Eve, The Robe, Marilyn Monroe, Cleopatra, and The Sound of Music, is met. Success is defined here by box office takings, and to a lesser extent Academy awards. This is ironic since Daryl Zanuck, head of the studio for the majority of the 50 years, is hailed for his literary aesthetic, as opposed to vulgarians like Jack Warner, Harry Cohn and Louis B Mayer. It is said that only a non-Jew like Zanuck was brave enough to make the anti-semitic Gentleman's Agreement, but not mentioned whether any Jews went to see it. (Maybe they didn't have to, if they lived it). There is a glimpse of Nightmare Alley, a work of great daring, which is deemed a failure, along with the dull Wilson, and a good 20 minutes devoted to Cleopatra, which bears the reputation of bankrupting the studio, though it did ultimately make a profit. If this documentary demonstrates anything, it is the fickleness of trends. After rescuing the studio from the Depression, Temple was let go because she grew up. Grable did marvels for morale in WW2 but she was outed by Monroe, just as Grable had outed Alice Faye. Monroe was fired from Something's Got to Give because of her unreliability, though we aren't told she was rehired before she died. We see out-takes from the incompleted film, which are fascinating and highlight her luminous beauty. And the attempts to battle TV in the 1950's by producing Cinemascope spectacles are exhausted by the fate of Cleopatra. (It is thought that the studio would have had more patience with Monroe if it wasn't for their pre-oocupation with Liz). Of amusing note is how Hello Dolly! is hailed as one of Fox' later successes, along with The Poseidon Adventure, Planet of the Apes, The Omen, and Star Wars, when my understanding was that Dolly lost about as much money for the studio as The Sound of Music had made. Perhaps it was best to wrap up this "story of our century" with the mythology intact, and Fox being the multi-media giant it now is."
A great DVD for any history buff
David Shapiro | Hollywood, CA | 05/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I moved to Hollywood about 5 months ago I did not know anything about the motion picture business nor the city where I live. As someone who loves history I started out to seek good books on the history of Hollywood. Most of the I found where good but dry. I found this DVD about a week ago and I love it. The DVD takes a look at the history of 20th Century Fox. The DVD moves at a good speed and really looks at the people and the films that made 20th Century Fox what it is today. The clips and the photos in the DVD are great also. It is a must have for any film or Hollywood history buff."
A great look at the history of Fox
J. Witoszynski | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not being familair with the history of 20th Century Fox, this was a great way to learn A LOT about the ups and down of the studio. One of the added bonus videos was pretty neat - the presentation to the Board members back in the 40's. It showed off areas of the studio and the "stars" of that time - many I thought "who's that?" A great overall collection for film buffs wanting to learn about the Fox studios."
Movie buffs, old timers, and foxy people only!
David L Jones | UK | 09/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I found this an extremely interesting documentary on The Studio, (as it was known before it's slew of Drew Barrymore vehicles, where she plays a virgin... again.) It was also fairly entertaining. The DVD, however, is recommended, in my humble opinion, to only those who are self-acknowledged movie buffs, or were alive at the time of Fox's first 50 years, or who are just FOX-y people. This is not recommended for the casual viewer, but for the viewer with the specific requirements mentioned. On the plus side, there are many insights into both The Studio and early film-making in general, and also featured are dailies from various Marilyn Monroe films of her 'goofing up' during her more traumatic years."