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Celebrity Guests

VandaKrefft 72 dpiVanda Krefft is the author of The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox (HarperCollins, November 2017), the first in-depth biography of Twentieth Century Fox founder William Fox. A former entertainment industry journalist based in Los Angeles, Vanda has an BA in English and an MA in Communication, both from the Unrsity of Pennsylvania, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. 

Book Cover

Presentation:
Museum Theater
Friday October 5th   4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Join Vanda Krefft on Friday afternoon in “Remembering William Fox” as she shares some of the highlights of Fox’s cultural, cinematic and technical contributions to the art of film making in America. Using references from her research, film clips and newly discovered photographs, you will come to realize why once she began research on Fox for her book; THE MAN WHO MADE THE MOVIES: THE METEORIC RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF WILLIAM FOX, it became a clear that Fox, one of the most important figures in film history, had for the most part been forgotten!

Founder of the Fox Film Corporation (now Twentieth Century Fox), producer of hundreds of feature films, including the original Cleopatra, starring Theda Bara, John Ford's first epic western The Iron Horse, and F. W. Murnau's Sunrise, which is widely considered one of the best movies ever made. William Fox pioneered the foreign expansion of the American film industry; aggressively promoted the revolutionary sound-on-film technology, ensuring a rapid transition to talking pictures; and built many huge, spectacular movie palaces..

THE MAN WHO MADE THE MOVIES:THE METEORIC RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF WILLIAM FOX

William Fox is one of the most important figures in film history--the founder of the Fox Film Corporation (now Twentieth Century Fox), producer of hundreds of feature films, including the original Cleopatra, starring Theda Bara, John Ford's first epic western The Iron Horse, and F. W. Murnau's Sunrise, which is widely considered one of the best movies ever made. Fox also pioneered the foreign expansion of the American film industry; aggressively promoted the revolutionary sound-on-film technology, ensuring a rapid transition to talking pictures; and built many huge, spectacular movie palaces.

Yet, till now, Fox has been virtually forgotten. The reasons have to do with the dark circumstances surrounding his dismissal from power in 1930--a management change, rooted in Wall Street corruption, that nearly ruined the studio and sent Fox into a tailspin of bitterness and despair.

Summary:

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. 

Hardcover: 944 pages  
Publisher: Harper (November 28, 2017)

Book Reviews:

“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.” — John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father.

“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.” (Washington Post)

“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.” (USA Today, four out of four stars)

“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.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“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.” (Sight & Sound, the magazine of the British Film Institute)

“Today, screens shape the world. How that came to be is, in part, the subject of Vanda Krefft’s magisterial The Man Who Made the Movies. More specifically, the subject is William Fox, the Hungarian-Jewish founder of the Fox movie and TV empire. Krefft is fascinated by the construction of the cinema and the central father-son psychodrama that drove Fox to achieve what he did.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)

“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.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The biographer…proves her case. If there is one man who made the movies, it is William Fox…He brought the world to moviegoers, housing the dreams and aspirations that are, in the end, more than money can buy.” (The Weekly Standard)

“It’s hard not to walk away from the book saddened by Fox’s tragic career arc. …Vanda Krefft argues we shouldn't discount the successes of Fox’s life because his career arc ended in tragedy. Fox ‘did more than anyone else to make the movies what they are today.’ But Krefft’s account is more than a fascinating look into the tactics of building the movie business, it gives us a window into the psychological potholes that can come with success.” (forbes.com)

“… deeply engrossing, scrupulously researched…The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox isn’t just another heroic yarn spun by the mythmakers of Tinseltown. Rather, it’s an unusually revealing window onto the movie industry during the earliest decades of its existence and a fine-grained portrait, pockmarks and all, of one of the flawed men who created it.” (Noah Isenberg, Pennsylvania Gazette)

“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.” — Brenda Wineapple, award-winning author of Ecstatic Nation and White Heat.

Books by Vanda will be in the Museum store.  She will also be autographing books- see Museum or Ticket office for schedule.

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

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