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The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox
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A riveting story of ambition, greed, and genius unfolding at the dawn of modern America. This landmark biography brings into focus a fascinating brilliant entrepreneur—like Steve Jobs or Walt Disney, a true American visionary—who risked everything to realize his bold dream of a Hollywood empire.

Although a major Hollywood studio still bears William Fox's name, the man himself has mostly been forgotten by history, even written off as a failure. Now, in this fascinating biography, Vanda Krefft corrects the record, explaining why Fox's legacy is central to the history of Hollywood.

At the heart of William Fox's life was the myth of the American Dream. His story intertwines the fate of the nineteenth-century immigrants who flooded into New York, the city's vibrant and ruthless gilded age history, and the birth of America's movie industry amid the dawn of the modern era. Drawing on a decade of original research, The Man Who Made the Movies offers a rich, compelling look at a complex man emblematic of his time, one of the most fascinating and formative eras in American history.

Growing up in Lower East Side tenements, the eldest son of impoverished Hungarian immigrants, Fox began selling candy on the street. That entrepreneurial ambition eventually grew one small Brooklyn theater into a $300 million empire of deluxe studios and theaters that rivaled those of Adolph Zukor, Marcus Loew, and the Warner brothers, and launched stars such as Theda Bara. Amid the euphoric roaring twenties, the early movie moguls waged a fierce battle for control of their industry. A fearless risk-taker, Fox won and was hailed as a genius—until a confluence of circumstances, culminating with the 1929 stock market crash, led to his ruin.

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Street Date:
11/28/2017
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English
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9780062680679
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B06XJV26FW
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APA Citation (style guide)

Vanda Krefft. (2017). The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox. Harper.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Vanda Krefft. 2017. The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox. Harper.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Vanda Krefft, The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox. Harper, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Vanda Krefft. The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox. Harper, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Vanda Krefft is a former magazine and newspaper journalist who has covered the entertainment industry for publications such as Elle, Redbook, Woman's Day, and the Los Angeles Times. She has a BA in English and an MA in Communication, both from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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A riveting story of ambition, greed, and genius unfolding at the dawn of modern America. This landmark biography brings into focus a fascinating brilliant entrepreneur—like Steve Jobs or Walt Disney, a true American visionary—who risked everything to realize his bold dream of a Hollywood empire.

Although a major Hollywood studio still bears William Fox's name, the man himself has mostly been forgotten by history, even written off as a failure. Now, in this fascinating biography, Vanda Krefft corrects the record, explaining why Fox's legacy is central to the history of Hollywood.

At the heart of William Fox's life was the myth of the American Dream. His story intertwines the fate of the nineteenth-century immigrants who flooded into New York, the city's vibrant and ruthless gilded age history, and the birth of America's movie industry amid the dawn of the modern era. Drawing on a decade of original research, The Man Who...

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fullDescription

A riveting story of ambition, greed, and genius unfolding at the dawn of modern America. This landmark biography brings into focus a fascinating brilliant entrepreneur—like Steve Jobs or Walt Disney, a true American visionary—who risked everything to realize his bold dream of a Hollywood empire.

Although a major Hollywood studio still bears William Fox's name, the man himself has mostly been forgotten by history, even written off as a failure. Now, in this fascinating biography, Vanda Krefft corrects the record, explaining why Fox's legacy is central to the history of Hollywood.

At the heart of William Fox's life was the myth of the American Dream. His story intertwines the fate of the nineteenth-century immigrants who flooded into New York, the city's vibrant and ruthless gilded age history, and the birth of America's movie industry amid the dawn of the modern era. Drawing on a decade of original research, The Man Who Made the Movies offers a rich, compelling look at a complex man emblematic of his time, one of the most fascinating and formative eras in American history.

Growing up in Lower East Side tenements, the eldest son of impoverished Hungarian immigrants, Fox began selling candy on the street. That entrepreneurial ambition eventually grew one small Brooklyn theater into a $300 million empire of deluxe studios and theaters that rivaled those of Adolph Zukor, Marcus Loew, and the Warner brothers, and launched stars such as Theda Bara. Amid the euphoric roaring twenties, the early movie moguls waged a fierce battle for control of their industry. A fearless risk-taker, Fox won and was hailed as a genius—until a confluence of circumstances, culminating with the 1929 stock market crash, led to his ruin.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Post
      • content: "Krefft captures both the culture of the origins of cinema as a business and the many fascinating personalities at play within the narrative. No longer Hollywood's forgotten pioneer, William Fox now has the history he deserves."
      • premium: False
      • source: USA Today (four stars)
      • content: "Life, ever unfair, had its way with the fantastic Mr. Fox. Yet Krefft reminds us, in this big, brassy production of a book, of his grand legacy."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "Whether Krefft is describing how Fox built his studio, ushered in the talkies, or weathered a litany of troubles—bankruptcy, jail time for trying to bribe a judge, and poor health—in his later years, her attention to detail makes for gripping storytelling."
      • premium: False
      • source: Huffington Post, Best Film Books of 2017
      • content: "Krefft's thoroughly researched, engagingly written book shows this scrappy visionary to be an enabler of the best sort of talent."
      • premium: False
      • source: Brenda Wineapple, award-winning author of Ecstatic Nation and White Heat
      • content: "Stunningly researched, lucidly told, and consistently illuminating, The Man Who Made the Movies is actually the story of America: the tale of an immigrant who rises high, a captain of industry capturing dreams, a visionary later forgotten after the forces he helped to broker bring him down."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Wall Street Journal
      • content: "William Fox has been hiding in plain sight, and Ms. Krefft has done an extraordinary job of putting him in the spotlight through exhaustive research in archives and libraries across America. The book is an immensely valuable resource...simultaneously a great American success story and a shudder-provoking cautionary tale."
      • premium: False
      • source: John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
      • content: "The most exciting new biography I have read in years. The rags-to-riches tale of William Fox, a fascinating though inexplicably neglected figure in our history, is as big and vibrant as the film industry he helped to found.... Rich in conflict, teeming with energy, and impossible to resist."
      • premium: False
      • source: —Patrick McGilligan, author of Young Orson:  The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane
      • content: "A big dig of a book, a nuanced human portrait as well as a sweeping financial chronicle, excavating William Fox from ancient burial grounds and restoring his preeminence as the T-Rex and Volpone of American silent film."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: "Krefft provides an in-depth overview of the early film industry and a lucid assessment of Fox's role in advancing the technology, art, and business of making films."
      • premium: False
      • source: J.B. Kaufman, film historian
      • content: "Krefft has devoted years to her research and has emerged with a story that is not only fascinating, but surprisingly revelatory for an historical figure as high-profile as this one. Fox's story is filled with colorful incident and surprising reversals of fortune, and moreover is beautifully written here."
      • premium: False
      • source: Sight & Sound
      • content: "In The Man Who Made the Movies, an excellent biography of this criminally forgotten figure, William Fox lives up to his billing...Krefft has exhumed the story of a crucial figure slighted by history. She's also crafted a captivating portrait of a flawed dynamo. Somewhere out there a screenwriter now has the raw material to give Mr. Fox his due."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Washington Book Review
      • content: "Vanda Krefft shines a light on previously unknown or ignored corners of his life and brings out the real man without whose efforts Hollywood would not have gained the status of the Mecca of international cinema. This meticulously researched book is virtually the previously ignored history of the Hollywood. It is an important book to understand how the American cinema began and evolved and gained the present status in the world of world cinema."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        September 4, 2017
        Journalist Krefft’s huge, dense, yet captivating biography highlights the early Hollywood mogul whose name long outlived his legend. Unlike Louis B. Mayer or Jack Warner, William Fox was effectively out of the movie business by the 1930s, leaving only his name on the company that would soon merge with Twentieth Century Pictures. While the story of his fall from grace is dramatic, his rise is just as fascinating. A Jewish immigrant from Hungary, he scrapped his way up in New York, eventually opening one of the first movie theaters in Brooklyn in 1904, when the new craze seemed likely to be a bursting bubble. Instead, Fox’s gamble paid off, and subsequent successes enabled him to found the Fox Film Corp. in 1915. Like many of his contemporaries, he built his empire on both production and distribution, and his attempt to take over the Loew’s theater chain led to an antitrust battle. Krefft seems to have uncovered nearly every fact or story about Fox extant. (Was it a sword swallower or a coin manipulator who attracted customers to Fox’s first theater? With no way to know, Krefft gives us both versions.) Whether Krefft is describing how Fox built his studio, ushered in the talkies, or weathered a litany of troubles—bankruptcy, jail time for trying to bribe a judge, and poor health—in his later years, her attention to detail makes for gripping storytelling.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        September 15, 2017
        A biography of the silent film-era producer and theater entrepreneur whose name lives on through the major studio he founded.In her ambitious first book, former magazine and newspaper journalist Krefft aims to resurrect the reputation of the pioneering though largely forgotten studio mogul William Fox (1879-1952), whose background story is similar to those of many of the founding fathers of film: tirelessly driven men whose families emigrated from Eastern Europe in the late 19th century. Their stories, including Fox's, were vividly recounted in Neil Gabler's An Empire of Their Own (1988). However, unlike many of his Hollywood contemporaries, Fox would maintain his residence in New York, and his contributions were encapsulated within the silent film era. Yet his achievements were significant. He built a multimillion-dollar empire of luxury movie theaters beginning with one small theater in Brooklyn. As a studio head, he had the vision to leverage several new revenue outlets, including the foreign market. He launched the careers of early stars such as Theda Bara and Tom Mix and was responsible for producing a number of highly regarded films, including F.W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927). In 1929, he suffered a series of disastrous events, beginning with a car accident that summer and the Wall Street crash, which derailed his attempt to merge Fox theaters with Loews releasing company. This would contribute to his losing control of the Fox Film Corporation, leading his career and personal fortune into a downward spiral. Krefft provides an in-depth overview of the early film industry and a lucid assessment of Fox's role in advancing the technology, art, and business of making films. Though her end goal is ultimately achieved, this hefty narrative is weighed down by excessive details surrounding her subject's financial dealings. Yet Fox the man remains somewhat elusive. The author's writing lacks the storytelling verve that a more seasoned film historian like David Thomson brings to his work. An insightful and solidly documented though often ponderous history of the early days of cinema--of primary interest to film scholars.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 15, 2017

        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.--Roy Liebman, formerly with California State Univ., Los Angeles

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        October 15, 2017
        A man who grew up in appalling poverty, with minimal education, claws his way up the power ladder to become one of the giants of Hollywood; then he buys a large stake in a rival company using borrowed money, only to have the Great Depression tear his life and career into shreds. William Fox is the man, the founder-owner of Fox Film, the third-largest studio in the early days of Hollywood, and in 1929 he bought a substantial number of shares in the Loew's cinema chain, which also happened to own MGM, Hollywood's second-biggest studio. The son of an Hungarian immigrant, Fox was a bit of a dreamer, but he was determined to make a success of himself, parlaying an investment in a small movie theater in 1904 into ownership of a major studio. He also, by fighting an antitrust lawsuit, laid the groundwork for the studio system. That this inventive, indefatigable man ended his career in defeat is a real downer, but the book is not. It's a celebration of Fox's spirit, his determination, and his lasting impact on the motion-picture industry.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

subtitle
The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox
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54
publisher
Harper
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