With a combination of astute archival research and personal stories from Fox’s niece, Angela Fox Dunn, Krefft weaves a tale that will engage amateur movie enthusiasts and film historians … Krefft chronicles the significant shift that came about at the end of 1915, when Fox sent employees to Los Angeles to helm the Fox West Coast studio … Krefft’s history gives us the whole story, one that shows us the tenacity of a titan instead of the bitter caricature left by his final years. Coupling expert scholarship and the tight prose of a seasoned journalist, The Man Who Made the Movies provides an overdue addition to film history. Krefft captures both the culture of the origins of cinema as a business and the many fascinating personalities at play within the narrative.
While Krefft could have done even more to address Fox’s significance for today — that is, why it matters to have been the man who made the movies — she does offer a penetrating psychological analysis of his motivations, namely, his repudiation of his father Michael in favor of his idealized mother ... Krefft’s point about Fox is that the 'man who made the movies' was more involved in the framing of movies than any other. A sense of the larger issues at stake would have helped readers frame the importance of the facts Krefft lays out with such mastery.
A wonderfully cinematic prologue — ‘Past the half-block-long ochre-and-slate-colored Spanish Baroque facade, under the marquee that blazed nightly with the power of 4,500 bulbs’ — reveals how Fox lost everything soon after he hit his pinnacle in 1929 … It’s a complex life, and Krefft can’t avoid a suffocating emphasis on accountancy and legal details. The book is practically a primer on New York theater leasing rates and the cash thievery of the city’s corrupt Tammany Hall political machine, which helped Fox finance his early movie palaces. Then there’s his drawn-out anti-trust battle with Thomas Edison’s movie monopoly, and the eternal inequity of movie-star salaries … 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.