Darryl Zanuck, like Selznick and Hal B. Wallis, was a creative producer . Like them, Zanuck was strictly hands-on, totally absorbed in day to day production. He was also an excellent editor.
His mantra was “Success in movies boils down to 3 things – story,story,story.”
Here are a few of the fascinating entries Zanuck made:
1941: SONJA HENIE
“I suggest you study the Deanna Durbin films at Universal which for the most part are a perfect formula for Sonja Henie.”
1945: ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM
“William Powell would be sensational as the king and Dorothy McGuire would be great as Anna.Olivia de Havilland asked Lubitsch to intercede with me.
Charles Boyer would love to play the King and I forgot to mention Irene Dunne, though in my opinion, she is too old for it.
If Selznick comes off his high horse we will use McGuire.”
1947: PRESTON STURGES
“I realise there are times when it is essential to make 20 or more takes of one scene. All I ask is that you be certain it is essential.”
Zanuck got annoyed at directors wasting time:
“Some of our directors seem to feel their constant presence on the set is not necessary – many argue it is boring to stay on the set!”
1948: THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND
In a memo to director Preston Sturges, Zanuck wrote:
“I know it perhaps sounds silly, but from a commercial point of view,Betty Grable’s legs are no laughing matter.”
1950: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
“I think “Farewell to the Master” has great possibilities but we must have an exciting, provocative title.”
Regarding the famous line, KLAATU BARADA NIKTO, Zanuck said:
“If Klaatu is shot, Helen should have something that will serve as a password to get her into see Gort.”
1950: Talking of screen tests for DAVID AND BATHSHEBA:
“The minute you put even a good actor in a biblical costume,he starts to read the scriptures instead of his role.”