The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox

Harper. Nov. 2017. 944p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780061136061. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780062680679. BIOG
Studio head William Fox (1879–1956) was a relatively benign ruler, although ruthless when he needed to be. Like other first-generation movie moguls, he began by buying small storefront theaters and ultimately expanded into producing films. By the mid-1910s, he had struck filmic gold with pioneering "vamp" star Theda Bara, male stars such as William Farnum and Tom Mix, and directors including John Ford. Most of the 1920s saw continuing success, but Fox had overextended himself financially. The 1929 stock-market crash hastened the end of his empire, and he was later imprisoned for several months. In her first book, journalist Krefft has done an exhaustive study of Fox (the notes alone run to 130 pages). Arranged chronologically, some of Fox's biography is rather hastily covered while whole chapters are devoted to a single film or player. Seemingly, every aspect of his personal and professional life has been included in this suitably engaging narrative.
VERDICT It is no reflection on Krefft's accomplishment that this may be more than most casual readers need to know about the man whose name lives on in 20th Century Fox. For those desiring less in-depth coverage, Merrill T. McCord's recent William Fox and the Fox Film Corporation may be a suitable alternative.
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