Rod Serling discovered the strength of writing science fiction as a way to disguise commentary on society of the day which led to The Twilight Zone. His contributions to Franklin J. Schaffner’s science fiction film Planet of the Apes allowed him to do the same on a cinematic scale. With political, religious and social commentary, as well as commentary on nuclear war, Serling gave the series a definite point of view and contributed to the film becoming an incredible success. Join us as we kick off our 50th-anniversary celebration of the Planet of the Apes series, starting with Schaffner’s 1968 film Planet of the Apes

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William Goldman is often credited as the first screenwriter to sell a spec script, meaning he wrote a script without getting paid for it then sold it once he was done with it. It’s common in the novel-writing world, but in the late 60s, it was unheard of in the film business. That script was “The Sundance Kid & Butch Cassidy,” which legendary producer Richard D. Zanuck, who was running 20th Century Fox at the time, optioned for twice what they were allowed to, knowing it was going to be big. And he was right. We continue our Couples On the Run series with George Roy Hill’s 1969 western, “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.”

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This isn’t your typical happy-go-lucky musical. No, this is dark and bloody and beautifully grim. It’s the perfect story for Burton and ends up being one of our favorite films of his, the final film in our Richard D. Zanuck series. Join us—Pete Wright and Andy Nelson—for this episode as we delve into everything about this film.

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The only thing better than a great story is a great storyteller, and Edward Bloom certainly fits the bill. Not a moment goes by in Tim Burton’s 2003 film “Big Fish” when young Edward, played by Ewan McGregor, isn’t living one of his fantastical stories or old Edward, played by Albert Finney, isn’t spinning one of his wild yarns, and that’s the hook that pulls us so readily into the film.

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In 1991, Richard D. Zanuck and his wife, Lili Fini Zanuck, produced her directorial debut, “Rush,” a story of two undercover cops trying to bring down a big drug dealer in a small Texas town and in the process become addicts themselves. Our memory of the film, unfortunately, was a bit better than the film itself (even if one of us disliked it less than the other).

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Driving Miss Daisy was a perfect story choice for Richard D. Zanuck to produce. Sure, it was difficult to get made but for a film that only cost $7.5 million dollars to produce, it raked in over $100 million at the domestic box office, putting it in the top 10 of the year with the likes of Batman and Lethal Weapon 2. Topping that off, it led Zanuck, along with his wife, Lili Fini Zanuck, to win the Best Picture award at the Oscars.

But this 1989 film, which deals with prejudice and friendship in the relationship between an old Jewish woman in the south and her African American driver, stands out for many people as a perfect example of what’s wrong with the Oscars because it came out the same year as Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, a film that deals with race relations in a much more intense and direct way, and what many feel should have won the Best Picture award.

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When someone says the word ‘jaws’ to you, it inevitably conjures up the man-eating great white shark in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller masterpiece. It’s hard to imagine a time when the word ‘jaws’ didn’t do this. But that’s what Spielberg’s film “Jaws” did, as well as birth the notion of the summer blockbuster and make people not want to swim in the ocean. Join us—Pete Wright and Andy Nelson—on this week’s episode as we chat about this film, the next in our Richard D. Zanuck series.

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After his father fired him from 20th Century Fox and a short stint at Warner Bros., Richard D. Zanuck joined forces with his buddy David Brown from his Fox days and the two joined forces as the independent producing duo under the banner The Zanuck/Brown Company. For their first film? They found possibly one of the greatest scripts ever written – David S. Ward’s “The Sting” – attached George Roy Hill to direct with Paul Newman and Robert Redford heading up the stellar cast, and ended up producing the Best Picture winner of 1973, as well as one of the greatest films ever made. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – this week for the second in our Richard D. Zanuck series as we discuss (and maybe gush a little bit because of our overwhelming love for this film) everything that makes “The Sting” great.

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It’s the start of our Richard D. Zanuck tribute series, ladies and gentlemen, and what better way to begin than with the first film he produced for his father, Darryl F. Zanuck, 1959’s “Compulsion.” Based on the book of the same name by Meyer Levin about the Leopold/Loeb murder from 1924, Richard D. Zanuck puts together a top notch team of cast and crew, headed up by director Richard Fleischer, to create a film that comes in under budget and ahead of schedule.

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