This biography by prolific behind-the-scenes documentarian Laurent Bouzereau chronicles the life of producer Richard D. Zanuck. Zanuck was the son of Darryl F. Zanuck, the longtime Fox studio head, and was raised on the studio lot. While his father’s name helped him get a foot in the door, Zanuck managed to distinguish himself early on as a producer with a string of hits, culminating in The Sound of Music, at that time the highest money-earning film. (He would later top his own record with Jaws.)
All was not roses between him and his equally-willful father. They had a year-long power struggle for control of the Fox studio, the story of which forms the most fascinating part of this documentary. Darryl and Dick later made friends, and the tradition of Zanuck producers continues into the third generation with one of Richard Zanuck’s sons, Dean.
Perhaps because of the Zanuck family’s close involvement (including Richard, who was able to see a cut of the film before he passed away), the documentary goes soft on Zanuck’s drinking and only hints at his explosive verbal and physical temper. (How many times did he find himself in jail before he quit drinking?) It also glosses over his first two marriages and dwells far too long on his last wife, Lili Fini Zanuck. A fine filmmaker in her own right, I’m sure, but not the subject of the documentary.
Still, I recommend this show to anyone who is interested in film history, especially the careers of Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton, over whom Zanuck had a profound influence.
Air dates for Turner Classic Movies:
Wednesday May, 8 2013 at 08:00 PM
Wednesday May, 8 2013 at 11:30 PM