Review of new book on William Fox

Post news stories and home video release announcements here.
User avatar
westegg
Posts: 1296
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 9:13 am

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by westegg » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:00 am

Thank you for chiming in here, Vanda Krefft. Your book is astounding. I didn't even think the font was an issue until it was brought up.

Pleased to hear your addressing various criticisms; an author's journey can often be thankless, but your book I'm sure has a long life ahead of it.

Have a healthy and prosperous 2018!

User avatar
Great Hierophant
Posts: 136
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Great Hierophant » Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:37 am

Ken Viewer wrote: Restricted stock can't be sold or traded in the open market. But it does represent an ownership interest in the company, and can be used as a method of purchasing other things. (The New York Times, bless its heart, is controlled via restricted stock and its public stock has limited voting rights while the restricted stock has full voting authority and is mostly owned by the families of the heirs of Ochs and Sulzberger.)

So Fox, realizing it was way smarter to buy a licensed, existing theatre in various locations, rather than borrow money to build one and deal with permits, contractors, licenses, bribes to government officials, extortion by mobsters, etc., the Fox Film Company used such stock to "buy" most of its theatres. Hypothetically, if you yourself had a theatre worth $10,000 (1920s money if not earlier), assume I'm a Fox executive and come along with an offer of $25,000 for your theatre. That's a nice profit, particularly in a stock-market environment that is headed to the stars before crashing.

But, the stock I offer is restricted, which means if you accept it, you can't go out later that day and sell it on the stock exchange. Well, that's not a very good deal... So what I'm going to do for you, because I like you, and I'm a sucker for your unique theatre which has running water, and stock certificates are falling out of my pockets anyway, is offer, in writing, to buy that stock back from you in, ohh, five years for $100,000 in paper-money or gold. Boy, oh boy, will you clean up in that deal. What a mark I am...

And it worked as long as the stock kept climbing vertically. But one day the Roaring '20s ended and the stock markets crashed and burned. And when you came to me, at the end of the five-years we'd agreed upon, and demanded $100,000 in gold (which was still legal tender), silver or paper-money, I no longer could pay you because I had no cash.

Want some more stock? A boat-load of bananas and lousy books? A home-cooked dinner at my mansion? You can't even have your theatre back because you sold it.

Fox's underlings were running stock scams (and undoubtedly he was, too) faster than a projector can chew up film. And this is but one of them.
In short, Fox bought real property using seller financing and backed by collateral that turned out to be worthless based on a market crash which few were able to foresee. Is this so different from using junk bonds to finance a leveraged buyout?

Vanda Krefft
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Vanda Krefft » Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:52 am

Ken Viewer wrote:I just finished listening to your interview with the book's author, and appreciate your efforts and abilities to draw information out of Ms. Krefft. Having neglected your audio resource, I regret not listening to the various interviews sooner, and I'm not the person who gave your show a negative rating. As for Krefft's understanding of Fox and Wall Street's stock world, I fear there may not be any.

In appreciation of your pointing out but a few areas of my two posts that are lacking in adequate details, let me recount the main method The Fox Film Company used to acquire other-people's existing movie-houses, which represented most of the theatres in his various domestic and foreign chains. The Fox companies never had enough cash to meet the goals, so by the time he incorporated and issued stock, Fox was playing with "restricted" stock in his main company as his coin of the realm.

Restricted stock can't be sold or traded in the open market. But it does represent an ownership interest in the company, and can be used as a method of purchasing other things. (The New York Times, bless its heart, is controlled via restricted stock and its public stock has limited voting rights while the restricted stock has full voting authority and is mostly owned by the families of the heirs of Ochs and Sulzberger.)

So Fox, realizing it was way smarter to buy a licensed, existing theatre in various locations, rather than borrow money to build one and deal with permits, contractors, licenses, bribes to government officials, extortion by mobsters, etc., the Fox Film Company used such stock to "buy" most of its theatres. Hypothetically, if you yourself had a theatre worth $10,000 (1920s money if not earlier), assume I'm a Fox executive and come along with an offer of $25,000 for your theatre. That's a nice profit, particularly in a stock-market environment that is headed to the stars before crashing.

But, the stock I offer is restricted, which means if you accept it, you can't go out later that day and sell it on the stock exchange. Well, that's not a very good deal... So what I'm going to do for you, because I like you, and I'm a sucker for your unique theatre which has running water, and stock certificates are falling out of my pockets anyway, is offer, in writing, to buy that stock back from you in, ohh, five years for $100,000 in paper-money or gold. Boy, oh boy, will you clean up in that deal. What a mark I am...

And it worked as long as the stock kept climbing vertically. But one day the Roaring '20s ended and the stock markets crashed and burned. And when you came to me, at the end of the five-years we'd agreed upon, and demanded $100,000 in gold (which was still legal tender), silver or paper-money, I no longer could pay you because I had no cash.

Want some more stock? A boat-load of bananas and lousy books? A home-cooked dinner at my mansion? You can't even have your theatre back because you sold it.

Fox's underlings were running stock scams (and undoubtedly he was, too) faster than a projector can chew up film. And this is but one of them.

I don't think I'm the one who discovered this, in fact I know I'm not, but I don't recall who did, particularly since I hadn't yet been born.

And that's what killed Fox's hold on his operations, more than everything else combined. Mr. Fox was a stock swindler, among other talents he had, and not the holy man Krefft proclaims.

Sidebar: Having heard your interview now, I give Ms. Krefft credit for realizing the potential of the widescreen concept, even if only three Grandeur prints of "The Big Trail" were ever distributed -- one went to Fox-Australia, IIRC. As for Fox and television, Fox would have been a couple of decades too early, particularly since the technology of over-the-air telecasting and the camera inventions needed many years' of work to be properly realized, even if some of the British did have home-television in the 1930s, using what I understand to be mechanical-electric-marriage TV.

I could go on and on regarding the Fox company and stock scams, but is there any demand for it? Fox stock, rather than theatre revenues, made William Fox a very rich man, until he no longer was.

By the way, I read Upton Sinclair's book regarding Fox about a half-century ago. How in the world could that novice-author-Krefft have missed the prior biographies of Fox, as pointed out by a knowledgeable poster/scholar in the audio-interview thread previously?

Ken

Ken,

Regarding your claims about Fox's "stock scams" in buying theaters, where is your evidence--specific names, dates, and details of transactions? What time frame are you talking about? The late 1920s? It was Fox Theatres, not Fox Film, that was buying theaters. And while Fox Theatres did have two classes of stock--A stock sold to the public, with no voting rights, and B stock, with voting rights--Fox always kept all of the B voting shares himself, so he never used them to buy properties. Is that what you are talking about when you refer to "restricted" stock?

You refer to five-year buy back arrangements on the stock provided as compensation for the theaters. Evidently you are talking about deals made in the late 1920s. Thus, the five-year period would have ended in the early 1930s. Fox lost control of both Fox Film and Fox Theatres in April 1930 and had absolutely no influence over the companies' operations after that. As I discuss in my book, his incompetent successors wrecked the companies financially. Fox was highly agitated as he saw their decline and tried repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to intervene to save them. You appear to be blaming Fox for others' actions.

Furthermore, if Fox acted illegally or unethically in proposing these deals, why were the deals not examined when, in the early 1930s, the U.S. Senate conducted extensive hearings on financial practices of the late 1920s? Fox was called on the carpet and grilled at length about other stock market activities--for instance, short selling his own companies' stock (which is now, but was not then, illegal). I report on this in my book. Also, if these alleged terms that Fox offered were so bad, why did some theater owners accept them? They didn't have to, and as I point out in my book, many theater owners rejected Fox's offers.

I do not claim that Fox was a "holy man." I portray him as a complex, highly ambitious person with strengths and flaws. I know you had an issue with the font--perhaps you didn't read very much of the book?

Vanda

Vanda Krefft
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Vanda Krefft » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:07 am

westegg wrote:Thank you for chiming in here, Vanda Krefft. Your book is astounding. I didn't even think the font was an issue until it was brought up.

Pleased to hear your addressing various criticisms; an author's journey can often be thankless, but your book I'm sure has a long life ahead of it.

Have a healthy and prosperous 2018!
Thank you very much, westegg. I appreciate your support for the book. Yes, it was a long, difficult, and demanding journey to write the book--thank you for understanding that--and I tried as best I could to present a well-rounded, accurate portrait.

I've also just posted a response to Ken's claims that Fox was a "stock swindler." Ken offers no specifics, and I find that his argument doesn't make sense given the apparent time frame, logic, and established facts.

Wishing you, too, a very happy and rewarding new year!

Vanda

User avatar
westegg
Posts: 1296
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 9:13 am

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by westegg » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:19 pm

:D

Ken Viewer
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:01 am

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Ken Viewer » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:34 pm

Vanda,

Regarding my "error" in listing William Fox's mother as his wife, it's not my error, and shame on you for looking to stick me with it. The University of South Carolina holds the footage of that woman and they're the ones who identified her as "Mrs. William Fox," as is clearly posted at their site, and it's the first identification issue I've had with them, ever. And I've helped organize purchasing groups that have been buying digitally-converted film from them for about a decade, and long before they put much of the digitized-portion of the archive online.

And I do hope you noticed that, in my abbreviated explanation of one of the Fox stock scams, I gave him a hypothetical -- and used the word hypothetical in that post. The concept of the Fox stock hustle with independent theatre owners is accurate, but it's part of a hypothetical example.

Because of board restrictions on formatting, I'm going to continue this in another post.

I hope you take some encouragement from what I believe, when it comes to most books, that no publicity is bad publicity.

Ken

Ken Viewer
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:01 am

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Ken Viewer » Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:19 pm

Vanda,

You posted:

-- "Ken Viewer wrote:
I just finished listening to your interview with the book's author, and appreciate your efforts and abilities to draw information out of Ms. Krefft. Having neglected your audio resource, I regret not listening to the various interviews sooner, and I'm not the person who gave your show a negative rating. As for Krefft's understanding of Fox and Wall Street's stock world, I fear there may not be any.

In appreciation of your pointing out but a few areas of my two posts that are lacking in adequate details, let me recount the main method The Fox Film Company used to acquire other-people's existing movie-houses, which represented most of the theatres in his various domestic and foreign chains. The Fox companies never had enough cash to meet the goals, so by the time he incorporated and issued stock, Fox was playing with "restricted" stock in his main company as his coin of the realm.

Restricted stock can't be sold or traded in the open market. But it does represent an ownership interest in the company, and can be used as a method of purchasing other things. (The New York Times, bless its heart, is controlled via restricted stock and its public stock has limited voting rights while the restricted stock has full voting authority and is mostly owned by the families of the heirs of Ochs and Sulzberger.)

So Fox, realizing it was way smarter to buy a licensed, existing theatre in various locations, rather than borrow money to build one and deal with permits, contractors, licenses, bribes to government officials, extortion by mobsters, etc., the Fox Film Company used such stock to "buy" most of its theatres. Hypothetically, if you yourself had a theatre worth $10,000 (1920s money if not earlier), assume I'm a Fox executive and come along with an offer of $25,000 for your theatre. That's a nice profit, particularly in a stock-market environment that is headed to the stars before crashing.

But, the stock I offer is restricted, which means if you accept it, you can't go out later that day and sell it on the stock exchange. Well, that's not a very good deal... So what I'm going to do for you, because I like you, and I'm a sucker for your unique theatre which has running water, and stock certificates are falling out of my pockets anyway, is offer, in writing, to buy that stock back from you in, ohh, five years for $100,000 in paper-money or gold. Boy, oh boy, will you clean up in that deal. What a mark I am...

And it worked as long as the stock kept climbing vertically. But one day the Roaring '20s ended and the stock markets crashed and burned. And when you came to me, at the end of the five-years we'd agreed upon, and demanded $100,000 in gold (which was still legal tender), silver or paper-money, I no longer could pay you because I had no cash.

Want some more stock? A boat-load of bananas and lousy books? A home-cooked dinner at my mansion? You can't even have your theatre back because you sold it.

Fox's underlings were running stock scams (and undoubtedly he was, too) faster than a projector can chew up film. And this is but one of them.

I don't think I'm the one who discovered this, in fact I know I'm not, but I don't recall who did, particularly since I hadn't yet been born.

And that's what killed Fox's hold on his operations, more than everything else combined. Mr. Fox was a stock swindler, among other talents he had, and not the holy man Krefft proclaims.

Sidebar: Having heard your interview now, I give Ms. Krefft credit for realizing the potential of the widescreen concept, even if only three Grandeur prints of "The Big Trail" were ever distributed -- one went to Fox-Australia, IIRC. As for Fox and television, Fox would have been a couple of decades too early, particularly since the technology of over-the-air telecasting and the camera inventions needed many years' of work to be properly realized, even if some of the British did have home-television in the 1930s, using what I understand to be mechanical-electric-marriage TV.

I could go on and on regarding the Fox company and stock scams, but is there any demand for it? Fox stock, rather than theatre revenues, made William Fox a very rich man, until he no longer was.

By the way, I read Upton Sinclair's book regarding Fox about a half-century ago. How in the world could that novice-author-Krefft have missed the prior biographies of Fox, as pointed out by a knowledgeable poster/scholar in the audio-interview thread previously?

Ken --


-- Ken,

Regarding your claims about Fox's "stock scams" in buying theaters, where is your evidence--specific names, dates, and details of transactions? What time frame are you talking about? The late 1920s? It was Fox Theatres, not Fox Film, that was buying theaters. And while Fox Theatres did have two classes of stock--A stock sold to the public, with no voting rights, and B stock, with voting rights--Fox always kept all of the B voting shares himself, so he never used them to buy properties. Is that what you are talking about when you refer to "restricted" stock?

You refer to five-year buy back arrangements on the stock provided as compensation for the theaters. Evidently you are talking about deals made in the late 1920s. Thus, the five-year period would have ended in the early 1930s. Fox lost control of both Fox Film and Fox Theatres in April 1930 and had absolutely no influence over the companies' operations after that. As I discuss in my book, his incompetent successors wrecked the companies financially. Fox was highly agitated as he saw their decline and tried repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to intervene to save them. You appear to be blaming Fox for others' actions.

Furthermore, if Fox acted illegally or unethically in proposing these deals, why were the deals not examined when, in the early 1930s, the U.S. Senate conducted extensive hearings on financial practices of the late 1920s? Fox was called on the carpet and grilled at length about other stock market activities--for instance, short selling his own companies' stock (which is now, but was not then, illegal). I report on this in my book. Also, if these alleged terms that Fox offered were so bad, why did some theater owners accept them? They didn't have to, and as I point out in my book, many theater owners rejected Fox's offers..."[/b]

Vanda --

Do you want me to do your work for you?

There is no reason you would have to have known anything about me prior to these posts here, and to put things in perspective, I am no film scholar and have never claimed to be. I post relatively rarely here. I was attracted to William Fox by the fact that much of his entities' newsreels hoards still exist, particularly the outtakes. But had you contacted me before your book was published, I would have likely shared what I could still find of my documents and notes, etc.

I became an investigative newspaper reporter over half-a-century ago, and towards the end of my career moved over to the business end of publications because that's where I found the compensation adequate to provide for my old age; Social Security and Medicare are great, but not enough.

I never covered Hollywood but did report on news of the "high culture" world, including ballet and opera and museums for about seven years before going back to covering Wall Street (and other "beats.")

How I fell upon pieces of the William Fox story begins with my thought that another book about him would be a worthwhile topic -- this happened over 50 years ago. No World Wide Web, no Wikis, no IMDB. But I did live in New York City. I sort of followed his early path -- trying to find out the history of "real" movie theaters here, not just storefront-rentals with a projector or two.

Up in Bronx County, which has been a part of New York City since before the baby William Fox arrived in the U.S., I tracked down the family of the man who purportedly built the first genuine movie theater in the county, circa 1906. He had died, but two of his children were very helpful in recalling their father's pioneering efforts and sucesses. (One or more members of the family even owned a funeral parlor across the street from one of their theatres. Go figure... Die from too much laughing at a comedy show and get a cut-rate funeral?)

From them, I met other exhibition-pioneering families in other parts of the nation.

And though I no longer recall where I first read about the Fox organization's stock scams, I therefore knew to ask these offspring of pioneers about them. And those are the sources.

As for other Fox stock scams, you seem skeptical. Fox was a man who tried to swindle his creditors out of their funds by faking a Federal bankruptcy proceeding, attempted to bribe a Federal judge, and those were huge felonies, then and now (he bought a Presidential pardon some years later). I covered Wall Street, and thus knew where to look for stock hustles. And they existed. Do you doubt a fellow who partnered with/hired known racketeers and a convicted swindler, was not capable of other crimes?

Fox also allegedly bribed various union leaders during his career. He was not a gentleman and a scholar.

Anyway, the only time this research came in handy to me, since I was never going to write a book, was circa 1978, when, as a freelancer looking to occasionally tweek my own editor, I wrote the first major article on the Broadway-and-national live-attraction-theatre impresario Jimmy Nederlander, Sr., to be printed in the New York Times. But I needed to deal with a rumor spread by several of Jimmy's business competitors that he was funded by mob money, and information obtained by those exhibition pioneers' offspring came in very handy. I found his "bank" -- legitimate wealthy funders, and was able to vouch for that to the editors at the Times.

As for why I never wrote a book, about anything, I was in an industry, which, at the time, if I took a leave of absence for a couple of years to work on a tome, I'd have no employment to come back to and no decent health insurance during the leave.

You also seem to want to hold me accountable for failings of Congressional hearings on the collapse of Wall Street and kingpins of industry's involvement. You're looking at the wrong target.

I don't envy any book author; it's harder work than I was willing to do, even though your book ought to bring you offers of tenure-track teaching film studies at various colleges if you don't already have such a position; I've met enough people who became professors based upon an initial book and subsequent work. I hope it does.

Good luck. And Happy New Year.

Ken

User avatar
boblipton
Posts: 6362
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:41 pm

Great Hierophant wrote:
Ken Viewer wrote: Restricted stock can't be sold or traded in the open market. But it does represent an ownership interest in the company, and can be used as a method of purchasing other things. (The New York Times, bless its heart, is controlled via restricted stock and its public stock has limited voting rights while the restricted stock has full voting authority and is mostly owned by the families of the heirs of Ochs and Sulzberger.)

So Fox, realizing it was way smarter to buy a licensed, existing theatre in various locations, rather than borrow money to build one and deal with permits, contractors, licenses, bribes to government officials, extortion by mobsters, etc., the Fox Film Company used such stock to "buy" most of its theatres. Hypothetically, if you yourself had a theatre worth $10,000 (1920s money if not earlier), assume I'm a Fox executive and come along with an offer of $25,000 for your theatre. That's a nice profit, particularly in a stock-market environment that is headed to the stars before crashing.

But, the stock I offer is restricted, which means if you accept it, you can't go out later that day and sell it on the stock exchange. Well, that's not a very good deal... So what I'm going to do for you, because I like you, and I'm a sucker for your unique theatre which has running water, and stock certificates are falling out of my pockets anyway, is offer, in writing, to buy that stock back from you in, ohh, five years for $100,000 in paper-money or gold. Boy, oh boy, will you clean up in that deal. What a mark I am...

And it worked as long as the stock kept climbing vertically. But one day the Roaring '20s ended and the stock markets crashed and burned. And when you came to me, at the end of the five-years we'd agreed upon, and demanded $100,000 in gold (which was still legal tender), silver or paper-money, I no longer could pay you because I had no cash.

Want some more stock? A boat-load of bananas and lousy books? A home-cooked dinner at my mansion? You can't even have your theatre back because you sold it.

Fox's underlings were running stock scams (and undoubtedly he was, too) faster than a projector can chew up film. And this is but one of them.
In short, Fox bought real property using seller financing and backed by collateral that turned out to be worthless based on a market crash which few were able to foresee. Is this so different from using junk bonds to finance a leveraged buyout?

It occurs to me that just about every Hollywood major except Loews/MGM went through a major reorganization, and even MGM broke its contracts with its employees by cutting their pay during "the crisis." If I recall correctly from Scott Eyman's book on DeMille, Paramount wrote off huge sums of money on their theater holdings and if they didn't declare bankruptcy, then they negotiated a settlement that left their creditors with a lot less than they had at the beginning.

Is that swindling? As a matter of the English language, when you go in, knowing that some one is going to come out with less money than promised, then yes, that's swindling. When you go in with anticipated cash flow statements, then it becomes a lot less clear. The movies were a growth industry during the 1920s -- a bubble era if there ever was one. In retrospect, it was all, to put it mildly, reckless. At the time, it was harder to tell. Anyone here buy shares in dot.com stocks? How about a house in 2004-2007? How much cryptocurrency in your virtual wallet?

Bob
(who thinks tulips look stupid)
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

Vanda Krefft
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Vanda Krefft » Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:54 pm

Ken Viewer wrote:Vanda,

You posted:

-- "Ken Viewer wrote:
I just finished listening to your interview with the book's author, and appreciate your efforts and abilities to draw information out of Ms. Krefft. Having neglected your audio resource, I regret not listening to the various interviews sooner, and I'm not the person who gave your show a negative rating. As for Krefft's understanding of Fox and Wall Street's stock world, I fear there may not be any.

In appreciation of your pointing out but a few areas of my two posts that are lacking in adequate details, let me recount the main method The Fox Film Company used to acquire other-people's existing movie-houses, which represented most of the theatres in his various domestic and foreign chains. The Fox companies never had enough cash to meet the goals, so by the time he incorporated and issued stock, Fox was playing with "restricted" stock in his main company as his coin of the realm.

Restricted stock can't be sold or traded in the open market. But it does represent an ownership interest in the company, and can be used as a method of purchasing other things. (The New York Times, bless its heart, is controlled via restricted stock and its public stock has limited voting rights while the restricted stock has full voting authority and is mostly owned by the families of the heirs of Ochs and Sulzberger.)

So Fox, realizing it was way smarter to buy a licensed, existing theatre in various locations, rather than borrow money to build one and deal with permits, contractors, licenses, bribes to government officials, extortion by mobsters, etc., the Fox Film Company used such stock to "buy" most of its theatres. Hypothetically, if you yourself had a theatre worth $10,000 (1920s money if not earlier), assume I'm a Fox executive and come along with an offer of $25,000 for your theatre. That's a nice profit, particularly in a stock-market environment that is headed to the stars before crashing.

But, the stock I offer is restricted, which means if you accept it, you can't go out later that day and sell it on the stock exchange. Well, that's not a very good deal... So what I'm going to do for you, because I like you, and I'm a sucker for your unique theatre which has running water, and stock certificates are falling out of my pockets anyway, is offer, in writing, to buy that stock back from you in, ohh, five years for $100,000 in paper-money or gold. Boy, oh boy, will you clean up in that deal. What a mark I am...

And it worked as long as the stock kept climbing vertically. But one day the Roaring '20s ended and the stock markets crashed and burned. And when you came to me, at the end of the five-years we'd agreed upon, and demanded $100,000 in gold (which was still legal tender), silver or paper-money, I no longer could pay you because I had no cash.

Want some more stock? A boat-load of bananas and lousy books? A home-cooked dinner at my mansion? You can't even have your theatre back because you sold it.

Fox's underlings were running stock scams (and undoubtedly he was, too) faster than a projector can chew up film. And this is but one of them.

I don't think I'm the one who discovered this, in fact I know I'm not, but I don't recall who did, particularly since I hadn't yet been born.

And that's what killed Fox's hold on his operations, more than everything else combined. Mr. Fox was a stock swindler, among other talents he had, and not the holy man Krefft proclaims.

Sidebar: Having heard your interview now, I give Ms. Krefft credit for realizing the potential of the widescreen concept, even if only three Grandeur prints of "The Big Trail" were ever distributed -- one went to Fox-Australia, IIRC. As for Fox and television, Fox would have been a couple of decades too early, particularly since the technology of over-the-air telecasting and the camera inventions needed many years' of work to be properly realized, even if some of the British did have home-television in the 1930s, using what I understand to be mechanical-electric-marriage TV.

I could go on and on regarding the Fox company and stock scams, but is there any demand for it? Fox stock, rather than theatre revenues, made William Fox a very rich man, until he no longer was.

By the way, I read Upton Sinclair's book regarding Fox about a half-century ago. How in the world could that novice-author-Krefft have missed the prior biographies of Fox, as pointed out by a knowledgeable poster/scholar in the audio-interview thread previously?

Ken --


-- Ken,

Regarding your claims about Fox's "stock scams" in buying theaters, where is your evidence--specific names, dates, and details of transactions? What time frame are you talking about? The late 1920s? It was Fox Theatres, not Fox Film, that was buying theaters. And while Fox Theatres did have two classes of stock--A stock sold to the public, with no voting rights, and B stock, with voting rights--Fox always kept all of the B voting shares himself, so he never used them to buy properties. Is that what you are talking about when you refer to "restricted" stock?

You refer to five-year buy back arrangements on the stock provided as compensation for the theaters. Evidently you are talking about deals made in the late 1920s. Thus, the five-year period would have ended in the early 1930s. Fox lost control of both Fox Film and Fox Theatres in April 1930 and had absolutely no influence over the companies' operations after that. As I discuss in my book, his incompetent successors wrecked the companies financially. Fox was highly agitated as he saw their decline and tried repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to intervene to save them. You appear to be blaming Fox for others' actions.

Furthermore, if Fox acted illegally or unethically in proposing these deals, why were the deals not examined when, in the early 1930s, the U.S. Senate conducted extensive hearings on financial practices of the late 1920s? Fox was called on the carpet and grilled at length about other stock market activities--for instance, short selling his own companies' stock (which is now, but was not then, illegal). I report on this in my book. Also, if these alleged terms that Fox offered were so bad, why did some theater owners accept them? They didn't have to, and as I point out in my book, many theater owners rejected Fox's offers..."[/b]

Vanda --

Do you want me to do your work for you?

There is no reason you would have to have known anything about me prior to these posts here, and to put things in perspective, I am no film scholar and have never claimed to be. I post relatively rarely here. I was attracted to William Fox by the fact that much of his entities' newsreels hoards still exist, particularly the outtakes. But had you contacted me before your book was published, I would have likely shared what I could still find of my documents and notes, etc.

I became an investigative newspaper reporter over half-a-century ago, and towards the end of my career moved over to the business end of publications because that's where I found the compensation adequate to provide for my old age; Social Security and Medicare are great, but not enough.

I never covered Hollywood but did report on news of the "high culture" world, including ballet and opera and museums for about seven years before going back to covering Wall Street (and other "beats.")

How I fell upon pieces of the William Fox story begins with my thought that another book about him would be a worthwhile topic -- this happened over 50 years ago. No World Wide Web, no Wikis, no IMDB. But I did live in New York City. I sort of followed his early path -- trying to find out the history of "real" movie theaters here, not just storefront-rentals with a projector or two.

Up in Bronx County, which has been a part of New York City since before the baby William Fox arrived in the U.S., I tracked down the family of the man who purportedly built the first genuine movie theater in the county, circa 1906. He had died, but two of his children were very helpful in recalling their father's pioneering efforts and sucesses. (One or more members of the family even owned a funeral parlor across the street from one of their theatres. Go figure... Die from too much laughing at a comedy show and get a cut-rate funeral?)

From them, I met other exhibition-pioneering families in other parts of the nation.

And though I no longer recall where I first read about the Fox organization's stock scams, I therefore knew to ask these offspring of pioneers about them. And those are the sources.

As for other Fox stock scams, you seem skeptical. Fox was a man who tried to swindle his creditors out of their funds by faking a Federal bankruptcy proceeding, attempted to bribe a Federal judge, and those were huge felonies, then and now (he bought a Presidential pardon some years later). I covered Wall Street, and thus knew where to look for stock hustles. And they existed. Do you doubt a fellow who partnered with/hired known racketeers and a convicted swindler, was not capable of other crimes?

Fox also allegedly bribed various union leaders during his career. He was not a gentleman and a scholar.

Anyway, the only time this research came in handy to me, since I was never going to write a book, was circa 1978, when, as a freelancer looking to occasionally tweek my own editor, I wrote the first major article on the Broadway-and-national live-attraction-theatre impresario Jimmy Nederlander, Sr., to be printed in the New York Times. But I needed to deal with a rumor spread by several of Jimmy's business competitors that he was funded by mob money, and information obtained by those exhibition pioneers' offspring came in very handy. I found his "bank" -- legitimate wealthy funders, and was able to vouch for that to the editors at the Times.

As for why I never wrote a book, about anything, I was in an industry, which, at the time, if I took a leave of absence for a couple of years to work on a tome, I'd have no employment to come back to and no decent health insurance during the leave.

You also seem to want to hold me accountable for failings of Congressional hearings on the collapse of Wall Street and kingpins of industry's involvement. You're looking at the wrong target.

I don't envy any book author; it's harder work than I was willing to do, even though your book ought to bring you offers of tenure-track teaching film studies at various colleges if you don't already have such a position; I've met enough people who became professors based upon an initial book and subsequent work. I hope it does.

Good luck. And Happy New Year.

Ken
Ken,

No, I do not want you to do my work for me. I simply asked that you substantiate your claims. Since you are unwilling to do so--rumors and speculation do not constitute substantiation--there is no point to further discussion.

It sounds as if you are retired now. If that's the case, I urge you to write the book you feel mine should have been.

Vanda

vitaphone
Posts: 494
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:50 am
Location: New Jersey

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by vitaphone » Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:21 pm

Time to ignore this verbose whiner Vanda. Lots of time to criticize others' work while he does nothing productive himself. Ken -- the horse is dead.
Last edited by vitaphone on Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Mike Gebert
Site Admin
Posts: 6156
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:06 pm

Ms. Krefft has answered more than adequately. We do not need piling on. Please, no personal attacks, which if anything lessen the effect of well-argued positions one might agree with.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

Ken Viewer
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:01 am

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Ken Viewer » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:36 am

Vanda Krefft posted:

Ken,

No, I do not want you to do my work for me. I simply asked that you substantiate your claims. Since you are unwilling to do so--rumors and speculation do not constitute substantiation--there is no point to further discussion.

It sounds as if you are retired now. If that's the case, I urge you to write the book you feel mine should have been.

Vanda


My opinions have been posted and I'm not one of those who continues on with endless comments, and so I expect this is my last on the subject, and yes, I am retired.

It didn't take you very long to claim I'm unwilling to substantiate research done, first by others, and then by me, regarding Fox and particular stock frauds. I doubt anything would convince you, given your vested interest in promoting your existing book, and that is understandable and not unusual.

Regarding writing my own biography of William Fox, who is a fascinating character, if I wouldn't attempt it when I was much younger and sharper, I certainly won't do it now. I'm not a book writer and I take my hat off to you (and with a wind-chill in Manhattan of minus-five-degrees at this moment, and little heat in my apartment, I am wearing a hat to help stay warm) as someone who did.

As time goes by, I'll search for, in my various boxes of notes and documents on everything I've written/researched over the last 50-plus years, and dig out the data I collected all those decades ago, including photocopies of photostats -- photostats were the most practical method of copying documents (prior to the development of xerogrophy) back in the William Fox era, and the wait for resonably priced Xerox copying. and that's the format of some of the documents I was shown -- and upload scans of the photocopies to a web site where anyone can read them (photostats are quite inferior to photocopies, but readable).

I have doubts the major publishers in the commercial publishing world have any desire for another William Fox volume any year soon, and I don't encourage anyone who wants to go that route to do it now.

Good luck with your career.

Here is footage of William Fox, circa 1920-1925, as filmed by the now-forgotten Selnick newsreels company, as identified by the UofSC (the latter portion of this 10-minute reel contains other material:

https://mirc.sc.edu/islandora/object/usc%3A45974" target="_blank" target="_blank

Ken

User avatar
R. Cat
Posts: 246
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:34 pm
Location: The Nearest Pub

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by R. Cat » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:28 pm

Ken Viewer wrote:Vanda Krefft posted:

Ken,

No, I do not want you to do my work for me. I simply asked that you substantiate your claims. Since you are unwilling to do so--rumors and speculation do not constitute substantiation--there is no point to further discussion.

It sounds as if you are retired now. If that's the case, I urge you to write the book you feel mine should have been.

Vanda


My opinions have been posted and I'm not one of those who continues on with endless comments, and so I expect this is my last on the subject, and yes, I am retired.

It didn't take you very long to claim I'm unwilling to substantiate research done, first by others, and then by me, regarding Fox and particular stock frauds. I doubt anything would convince you, given your vested interest in promoting your existing book, and that is understandable and not unusual.

Regarding writing my own biography of William Fox, who is a fascinating character, if I wouldn't attempt it when I was much younger and sharper, I certainly won't do it now. I'm not a book writer and I take my hat off to you (and with a wind-chill in Manhattan of minus-five-degrees at this moment, and little heat in my apartment, I am wearing a hat to help stay warm) as someone who did.

As time goes by, I'll search for, in my various boxes of notes and documents on everything I've written/researched over the last 50-plus years, and dig out the data I collected all those decades ago, including photocopies of photostats -- photostats were the most practical method of copying documents (prior to the development of xerogrophy) back in the William Fox era, and the wait for resonably priced Xerox copying. and that's the format of some of the documents I was shown -- and upload scans of the photocopies to a web site where anyone can read them (photostats are quite inferior to photocopies, but readable).

I have doubts the major publishers in the commercial publishing world have any desire for another William Fox volume any year soon, and I don't encourage anyone who wants to go that route to do it now.

Good luck with your career.

Here is footage of William Fox, circa 1920-1925, as filmed by the now-forgotten Selnick newsreels company, as identified by the UofSC (the latter portion of this 10-minute reel contains other material:

https://mirc.sc.edu/islandora/object/usc%3A45974" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Ken
Ken, I don't think you got my hint that you should write your own book to tell the story/viewpoint most interesting to you.

Thinking a little more about this, you probably wouldn't be the right author for a revelatory book on film moguls as power brokers and how they shaped the star system culture that developed during the silent era. That story would best be told by an author without any perception or misperception of gender bias (IOW, that story would probably be best told from a woman's perspective).

As you've indicated, you're retired and have no interest in writing your own book. Nevertheless, I'm sure that your research and accumulated knowledge on William Fox would be of immense value to historians, authors and all silent film fans with whom you choose to share it. That said, as someone who knows a little about the complexities of book publishing I'd respectfully suggest taking a slightly less critical tone when nitpicking the first published work of an author who has successfully passed the editorial rigors of one of the top publishing houses in the country.

Ms. Krefft has taken the high road throughout these discussions which speaks well of her professionalism and character. We should all take something positive away from this. My apologies for beating a dead horse (at least it'll pay off at the two dollar bet window).

User avatar
Zool
Posts: 144
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 5:20 pm
Location: "It took a day to build this city"

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Zool » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:13 am

Vanda Krefft wrote:
Ken Viewer wrote:Vanda,

You posted:

-- "Ken Viewer wrote:
I just finished listening to your interview with the book's author, and appreciate your efforts and abilities to draw information out of Ms. Krefft. Having neglected your audio resource, I regret not listening to the various interviews sooner, and I'm not the person who gave your show a negative rating. As for Krefft's understanding of Fox and Wall Street's stock world, I fear there may not be any.

In appreciation of your pointing out but a few areas of my two posts that are lacking in adequate details, let me recount the main method The Fox Film Company used to acquire other-people's existing movie-houses, which represented most of the theatres in his various domestic and foreign chains. The Fox companies never had enough cash to meet the goals, so by the time he incorporated and issued stock, Fox was playing with "restricted" stock in his main company as his coin of the realm.

Restricted stock can't be sold or traded in the open market. But it does represent an ownership interest in the company, and can be used as a method of purchasing other things. (The New York Times, bless its heart, is controlled via restricted stock and its public stock has limited voting rights while the restricted stock has full voting authority and is mostly owned by the families of the heirs of Ochs and Sulzberger.)

So Fox, realizing it was way smarter to buy a licensed, existing theatre in various locations, rather than borrow money to build one and deal with permits, contractors, licenses, bribes to government officials, extortion by mobsters, etc., the Fox Film Company used such stock to "buy" most of its theatres. Hypothetically, if you yourself had a theatre worth $10,000 (1920s money if not earlier), assume I'm a Fox executive and come along with an offer of $25,000 for your theatre. That's a nice profit, particularly in a stock-market environment that is headed to the stars before crashing.

But, the stock I offer is restricted, which means if you accept it, you can't go out later that day and sell it on the stock exchange. Well, that's not a very good deal... So what I'm going to do for you, because I like you, and I'm a sucker for your unique theatre which has running water, and stock certificates are falling out of my pockets anyway, is offer, in writing, to buy that stock back from you in, ohh, five years for $100,000 in paper-money or gold. Boy, oh boy, will you clean up in that deal. What a mark I am...

And it worked as long as the stock kept climbing vertically. But one day the Roaring '20s ended and the stock markets crashed and burned. And when you came to me, at the end of the five-years we'd agreed upon, and demanded $100,000 in gold (which was still legal tender), silver or paper-money, I no longer could pay you because I had no cash.

Want some more stock? A boat-load of bananas and lousy books? A home-cooked dinner at my mansion? You can't even have your theatre back because you sold it.

Fox's underlings were running stock scams (and undoubtedly he was, too) faster than a projector can chew up film. And this is but one of them.

I don't think I'm the one who discovered this, in fact I know I'm not, but I don't recall who did, particularly since I hadn't yet been born.

And that's what killed Fox's hold on his operations, more than everything else combined. Mr. Fox was a stock swindler, among other talents he had, and not the holy man Krefft proclaims.

Sidebar: Having heard your interview now, I give Ms. Krefft credit for realizing the potential of the widescreen concept, even if only three Grandeur prints of "The Big Trail" were ever distributed -- one went to Fox-Australia, IIRC. As for Fox and television, Fox would have been a couple of decades too early, particularly since the technology of over-the-air telecasting and the camera inventions needed many years' of work to be properly realized, even if some of the British did have home-television in the 1930s, using what I understand to be mechanical-electric-marriage TV.

I could go on and on regarding the Fox company and stock scams, but is there any demand for it? Fox stock, rather than theatre revenues, made William Fox a very rich man, until he no longer was.

By the way, I read Upton Sinclair's book regarding Fox about a half-century ago. How in the world could that novice-author-Krefft have missed the prior biographies of Fox, as pointed out by a knowledgeable poster/scholar in the audio-interview thread previously?

Ken --


-- Ken,

Regarding your claims about Fox's "stock scams" in buying theaters, where is your evidence--specific names, dates, and details of transactions? What time frame are you talking about? The late 1920s? It was Fox Theatres, not Fox Film, that was buying theaters. And while Fox Theatres did have two classes of stock--A stock sold to the public, with no voting rights, and B stock, with voting rights--Fox always kept all of the B voting shares himself, so he never used them to buy properties. Is that what you are talking about when you refer to "restricted" stock?

You refer to five-year buy back arrangements on the stock provided as compensation for the theaters. Evidently you are talking about deals made in the late 1920s. Thus, the five-year period would have ended in the early 1930s. Fox lost control of both Fox Film and Fox Theatres in April 1930 and had absolutely no influence over the companies' operations after that. As I discuss in my book, his incompetent successors wrecked the companies financially. Fox was highly agitated as he saw their decline and tried repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to intervene to save them. You appear to be blaming Fox for others' actions.

Furthermore, if Fox acted illegally or unethically in proposing these deals, why were the deals not examined when, in the early 1930s, the U.S. Senate conducted extensive hearings on financial practices of the late 1920s? Fox was called on the carpet and grilled at length about other stock market activities--for instance, short selling his own companies' stock (which is now, but was not then, illegal). I report on this in my book. Also, if these alleged terms that Fox offered were so bad, why did some theater owners accept them? They didn't have to, and as I point out in my book, many theater owners rejected Fox's offers..."[/b]

Vanda --

Do you want me to do your work for you?

There is no reason you would have to have known anything about me prior to these posts here, and to put things in perspective, I am no film scholar and have never claimed to be. I post relatively rarely here. I was attracted to William Fox by the fact that much of his entities' newsreels hoards still exist, particularly the outtakes. But had you contacted me before your book was published, I would have likely shared what I could still find of my documents and notes, etc.

I became an investigative newspaper reporter over half-a-century ago, and towards the end of my career moved over to the business end of publications because that's where I found the compensation adequate to provide for my old age; Social Security and Medicare are great, but not enough.

I never covered Hollywood but did report on news of the "high culture" world, including ballet and opera and museums for about seven years before going back to covering Wall Street (and other "beats.")

How I fell upon pieces of the William Fox story begins with my thought that another book about him would be a worthwhile topic -- this happened over 50 years ago. No World Wide Web, no Wikis, no IMDB. But I did live in New York City. I sort of followed his early path -- trying to find out the history of "real" movie theaters here, not just storefront-rentals with a projector or two.

Up in Bronx County, which has been a part of New York City since before the baby William Fox arrived in the U.S., I tracked down the family of the man who purportedly built the first genuine movie theater in the county, circa 1906. He had died, but two of his children were very helpful in recalling their father's pioneering efforts and sucesses. (One or more members of the family even owned a funeral parlor across the street from one of their theatres. Go figure... Die from too much laughing at a comedy show and get a cut-rate funeral?)

From them, I met other exhibition-pioneering families in other parts of the nation.

And though I no longer recall where I first read about the Fox organization's stock scams, I therefore knew to ask these offspring of pioneers about them. And those are the sources.

As for other Fox stock scams, you seem skeptical. Fox was a man who tried to swindle his creditors out of their funds by faking a Federal bankruptcy proceeding, attempted to bribe a Federal judge, and those were huge felonies, then and now (he bought a Presidential pardon some years later). I covered Wall Street, and thus knew where to look for stock hustles. And they existed. Do you doubt a fellow who partnered with/hired known racketeers and a convicted swindler, was not capable of other crimes?

Fox also allegedly bribed various union leaders during his career. He was not a gentleman and a scholar.

Anyway, the only time this research came in handy to me, since I was never going to write a book, was circa 1978, when, as a freelancer looking to occasionally tweek my own editor, I wrote the first major article on the Broadway-and-national live-attraction-theatre impresario Jimmy Nederlander, Sr., to be printed in the New York Times. But I needed to deal with a rumor spread by several of Jimmy's business competitors that he was funded by mob money, and information obtained by those exhibition pioneers' offspring came in very handy. I found his "bank" -- legitimate wealthy funders, and was able to vouch for that to the editors at the Times.

As for why I never wrote a book, about anything, I was in an industry, which, at the time, if I took a leave of absence for a couple of years to work on a tome, I'd have no employment to come back to and no decent health insurance during the leave.

You also seem to want to hold me accountable for failings of Congressional hearings on the collapse of Wall Street and kingpins of industry's involvement. You're looking at the wrong target.

I don't envy any book author; it's harder work than I was willing to do, even though your book ought to bring you offers of tenure-track teaching film studies at various colleges if you don't already have such a position; I've met enough people who became professors based upon an initial book and subsequent work. I hope it does.

Good luck. And Happy New Year.

Ken
Ken,

No, I do not want you to do my work for me. I simply asked that you substantiate your claims. Since you are unwilling to do so--rumors and speculation do not constitute substantiation--there is no point to further discussion.

It sounds as if you are retired now. If that's the case, I urge you to write the book you feel mine should have been.

Vanda
Don't feed the trolls, Vanda. Not that you were, just saying. Anyway, this Ken person doesn't come across as a very affable character.

Congratulations on getting your book published.
You probably thought or even wished that I was dead.

George O'Brien.net

User avatar
Rick Lanham
Posts: 2047
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:16 pm
Location: Gainesville, FL

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:30 pm

An interview with the author, Vanda Krefft, is currently on CSPAN, and will be repeated during the night, tonight.

It is also available online:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?437815-1/ ... illiam-fox" target="_blank

Rick
“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.

Ken Viewer
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:01 am

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Ken Viewer » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:20 pm

Rick Lanham wrote:An interview with the author, Vanda Krefft, is currently on CSPAN, and will be repeated during the night, tonight.

It is also available online:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?437815-1/ ... illiam-fox" target="_blank

Rick
Thanks for posting this. Although I watch a goodly amound of Book-TV (C-Span 2), this event is apparently for the C-Span 3 channel and I likely would have missed it. I'm at the point in life, though I live in Manhattan, where I don't attend author presentations any longer, except when the author is an old friend, and, alas, sometimes not even then. Mobility issues have taken a toll.

Ken

Metaldams
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2015 7:48 pm

Re: Review of new book on William Fox

Unread post by Metaldams » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:00 pm

I'm considering buying this, but what I'm most interested in is Fox's film career on the east coast before he went to Hollywood. I mention this because there's a family story that my great grandfather, who passed sixteen years before I was born, supposedly worked for William Fox on the east coast and was offered to go to Hollywood, but decided not to go. My grandmother told me this and always said her and I never would have been born if my great grandfather followed William Fox. Hey, it could all not be true, but I've always wondered about this.

Anyway, anybody care to share their thoughts on the book for the east coast movie days? I'm seriously considering this book as a means to find clues.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... khWDJnWdqx" target="_blank" target="_blank

Click above to see why I'm the loudest silent film fan in the world. \m/

Post Reply