It’s huge – over 700 pages. In keeping with the previous books on MGM and Paramount, TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, A CENTURY OF ENTERTAINMENT (2016) covers the history of the studio’s backlots and sound stages from the beginning in 1916  to the present day.

It is the first official history of Twentieth Century Fox ever released. It’s a studio tour in text and hundreds of photographs, the next best thing to being there in all the different decades of Fox .


WILLIAM FOX formed the Fox Film Corporation in 1915. Moving from premises in New Jersey, the Fox studio in Los Angeles was completed in 1916, at Western  Avenue and Sunset Boulevard.


In 1935, there was a merger with Twentieth Century  Pictures.

The book by Michael Troyan, Jeffrey Paul Thompson and Stephen X. Sylvester is a comprehensive look at how a studio uses the space it has for all the areas of expertise involved in film making. And how the vast backlot and buildings changed over the years.

FOX MOVIETONE NEWS ran from 1928 to 1963. The archives contain some great moments of history.

The book is full of rare and fascinating photos from the studio’s own archives like the ones below.


Anthony Quinn, Henry Fonda in the foreground. Whit Bissell on the left behind them. On the set of WARLOCK.


Marilyn Monroe on the set  of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, during the ‘Diamonds  are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number. George Chakiris can be seen at the back. One of the dancers wipes his forehead as they take a break.


Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall.HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE.

Interspersed with interviews and stories of some of Fox’s biggest hits, there is just so much to read,  two volumes might have been preferable.

I noticed a few mistakes -On page 220, a picture of Maureen O’Sullivan is credited as Barbara Rush. And on the same page there is a photo of Doris Day, but it looks more like Doris’s stand-in.

On Page 316, a photo of Vincent Price is described as Dana Andrews.

And I had to smile when PEOPLE WILL TALK was described as ”richly comic.”

20 pages on THE SOUND OF MUSIC was a bit much for me, but it was one of Fox’s  biggest hits.

Mention of Dana Andrews as “a wonderful singer”, made me wonder if he ever made any recordings – other than the song he sings in THE NORTH  STAR. I know he didn’t want to sing in STATE FAIR.

At the end of the book, every film ever made at Fox is listed , year by year.

I was interested to read about THE FOX ARCHIVES, set up to collect,,preserve and catalogue Fox props,set decorations,photos. And make them accessible to historians, museums etc.



This  is a labour of love by the writers, and the amount of research involved must have been colossal. It’s  a great addition to anyone’s film  library, but dont expect to get through it one session!


Some of Twentieth Century Fox’s stars:

Jean Peters, Richard Widmark.PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET


Betty Grable


2 responses »

  1. A great review of a terrific book – can’t get enough of those studio histories – and the tours of the standing sets and buildings are fascinating. A marvellous reference work and a good read as well.

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