Magazine article American Cinematographer

Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck

Article excerpt

Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck by Rudy Behlmer Grove Press, 276pages, $22.95

Rudy Behlmer is a first-rate chronicler of movie history because he deals in fact instead of inference, gossip or psychoanalysis. Twenty-odd years ago he handed other film historians a wealth of primary source research in Memo from David O. Selznick. Now he's done it again, but this time the memos are from Darryl F. Zanuck, who ruled production at Twentieth Century-Fox from 1935 to 1956. Addressed to directors, actors, writers, producers, executives, composers, and censors, Zanuck's words provide an intimate look into the old studio system at work.

Zanuck emerges as a tough but honest boss who encouraged artistry only within the bounds of practicality, as is shown in this excerpt from his correspondence with Associate Producer Len Hammond in 1941, during the making of Swamp Water:

"... The Camera Report shows that most of the wasted time is because of lack of decision on camera angles. [Director Jean] Renoir will give an angle to the cameraman at night that he is going to shoot the following morning, and then when he arrives and the set is all lined up, he has changed his mind. …

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