TRIBUTE: Richard Zanuck Was A Giant Behind The Silver Screen
By STEWART SMITH
The movie industry lost Hollywood royalty on Friday. Richard Zanuck died of a heart attack at his Beverly Hills home at the age of 77.
The name Richard Zanuck might not be known to most people outside of dedicated film buffs or Hollywood insiders, but it's all but guaranteed you've seen the results of his work as a film producer. The son of the legendary founder of 20th Century Fox Studios Darryl F. Zanuck, who produced “All About Eve,” “The Longest Day” and “The Grapes of Wrath” among countless others, Richard Zanuck was the only son to reproduce his father's Best Picture Oscar win.
A producer is essentially the backbone of any film production. They secure the rights to the screenplay, secure financing, select the director and casting director, serve as liaison between the director and the studio (often protecting the director from certain studio actions) and help provide an overall creative direction for the production. Zanuck was all of those things, and he did so during a crucial time in Hollywood. The Best of Zanuck
Most notable is his support of Steven Spielberg. Zanuck discovered Spielberg as he and his producing partner, David Brown, were preparing “The Sugarland Express.” Because of Spielberg's success with that film, it led directly to Zanuck producing “Jaws.” Zanuck's support of Spielberg was crucial. He stood by the young director during a tumultuous time when problems began to mount. Were it not for his support and belief in Spielberg, the movie landscape would be very different than it is today.
But there's more to Zanuck's legacy than “Jaws.” He produced the Best Picture Oscar-winning “Driving Miss Daisy,” produced a half dozen of Tim Burton's most recent films, as well as “Cocoon,” “Road to Perdition” and “The Verdict,” and was head of 20th Century Fox as he helped move projects such as “Patton,” “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid,” “MASH” and “The Sound of Music.”
As perfect a summer blockbuster as there ever has been, “Jaws” remains every bit as effective today as it was back in 1975. Definitive proof that taking a “less is more” approach can build thrills that are just as effective (if not more so) than anything else modern technology can provide. A true classic in every sense of the word.“The Verdict”
This lawyer drama starring Paul Newman might go largely unnoticed by the film world, but it's no less an incredible character piece that features a wonderful performance by Newman. Directed by Sidney Lumet and written by David Mamet, Newman plays Frank Galvin, a washed-up lawyer who takes on a case hoping for one last shot at redemption.“Road to Perdition”
As director Sam Mendes' follow-up to his Oscar-winning “American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition” got significantly less attention, even though it is easily the better film. Based on the graphic novel by Max Collins, the film tells the story of mob hitman Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) who must flee with his son who was witness to a pair of murders. The film co-stars Paul Newman and Daniel Craig and features some of the best late-career work of the late, great cinematographer Conrad Hall.