American Film Company Logos
But Were Afraid To Ask
by Rick Mitchell
Page 3 - 20th Century-Fox
Vying with MGM's as the best known logo is that of 20th Century-Fox. This logo was actually done in 1933 by matte artist Emil Kosa, Jr. for Darryl Zanuck and Joseph M. Schenck's 20th Century Pictures, (a name proposed by Zanucks then associate producer Samuel G. Engel) which had a distribution deal with United Artists. Alfred Newman, then musical director for United Artists, composed his famous fanfare at that time. After 20th Century's merger with the Fox Film Corporation in 1935, Kosa redid his painting to reflect the new corporate name.
The earlier Fox Film actually had no on-screen logo. Originally its films opened with "William Fox Presents" and after he was deposed in 1930, Fox Film Corporation presents". At one point, in its print advertising, it did have a logo consisting of "Fox" on a flag.
The 20th Century-Fox logo was the first to have a version done in three-strip Technicolor, for "Ramona" (1936); this logo has been replaced with a flat print of the CinemaScope version on many of the new prints of pre-1954 Fox color films made since the mid-Seventies.
The first change in the logo came in 1953, thanks to CinemaScope. Kosa redid his painting of the edifice, which for "The Robe" was matted over a red curtain. The complete new version, which had the edifice against a dusky background, first appeared on "How To Marry A Millionaire." For the first seven CinemaScope pictures, and a number of other 1954 releases, this logo stood alone, with the first credit on the following film being "Twentieth Century-Fox presents A CinemaScope Production." Subsequently this credit would be matted over another Kosa painting of clouds, to which the logo dissolves, accompanied by Newman's "CinemaScope extension" of his revised fanfare. This first appeared on "River Of No Return" (1954) and after 1955 would appear on almost all of Fox's CinemaScope releases until its last, "Caprice" (1967), the second credit changed to "...Presents A CinemaScope Picture". The 2001 Panavision shot film "Down With Love" opened with the old CinemaScope logo, with credit and extension, transferred from a video source.
Kosa did an alternate version of his new logo with a higher view of the edifice for the CinemaScope 55 productions "Carousel" and "The King And I" (both 1956); this painting was later used on the 65mm productions "The Sound Of Music," "The Agony And The Ecstacy," and "Dr. Doolittle."
Although Fox distributed a few non CinemaScope pictures between 1954 and 1964, they did not carry a logo. In 1964, they made a deal with director Robert Aldrich, who did not like CinemaScope, and the pre-1953 logos were used on the two "flat" films he made for them, "The Flight Of The Phoenix" and "Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1965). The following year, they began using Panavision for their anamorphic productions and the "CinemaScope extension" card and music were dropped from those productions. After 1967 they began making and distributing, both flat and "Scope" productions, opening the flat ones with either a "flat" version of the Cinema- Scope logo or the pre-1953 one.
For a brief period in 1970-71, they dropped the logo altogether, just opening the films with "Twentieth Century-Fox Presents." As with MGM's stylized logo, strong objections from fans and stockholders ended this practice.
In 1981, a matte artist hired by Pacific Title did a new version of the logo as part of a gag opening for "The Cannonball Run." Fox subsequently adopted this version, accompanied by a new recording of the fanfare by Lionel Newman. In 1994 the current computer generated version of the logo was done, with a variation for the "Fox Searchlight" arthouse division.
Although other companies, most notably Warner Bros., had musical fanfares accompanying their logos at point or another, Fox is the company best known for it. Although it was rumored that Alfred Newman re-recorded his original fanfare on the Fox Scoring Stage after he became head of its music department in 1940, this has not been confirmed, so it is possible that the version used until 1953 and revived in the mid-Sixties as noted above was the original variable density optical recording done on the United Artists scoring stage in 1933!
"The Robe" did not have a fanfare and for "How To Marry A Millionaire", Newman did a revised version of the basic fanfare with a heavier emphasis on the drums. This fanfare was also used on "Soldier Of Fortune" and "The Seven Year Itch" (both 1955) and as part of the gag opening titles for "The Girl Cant Help It" (1956). John Williams had hoped to do a re-recording of the fanfare for "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope" (1977) but didnt have time; he later did new recordings of it for "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return Of The Jedi" (1983) though the studio continued to use the above mentioned Lionel Newman version on its other films. The above mentioned CGI version initially had a re-recording conducted by Bruce Broughton and in 1997, after the Fox Scoring stage was restored and named after Alfred Newman, another version was done by his son David. Thats the one currently used.
The current version features a flash of light that is actually used to check the sync of the music look for it on the last drum beat before the pause that precedes the CinemaScope extension.
(Pop quiz: can you name the three 1977 20th Century-Fox releases that opened with the old fanfare with CinemaScope extension, even though only one of them was anamorphic?)
On the roadshow versions of "The Diary Of Anne Frank" (1959) and "Cleopatra" (1963), the logo, without fanfare, faded in at the end of the overture. On the former, this was on a separate reel and was not carried over to the cut version, which appears to have no logo otherwise.
Variations on the Fox logo and fanfare: Director Frank Tashlin spoofed the Fox logo in his films "The Girl Can't Help It" (1956), "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" (1957), and "Caprice;" a silent movie variation of the fanfare was done for "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines" (1965) in which the pre-1953 logo was matted into a movie theater screen; David Raksin used the fanfare to announce the arrival of the 20th Century during a time travel montage in "Where Do We Go From Here?" (1945) and controversy was raised by Russ Meyer's accompanying a decapitation with the fanfare in "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls" (1970). A spoof of Ross Hunter's films in "What A Way To Go!" (1964) opens with a Kosa painting of an edifice reading "Lush Budgett" backed by searchlights and the old fanfare. An assistant editor on "Die Hard" (1988) accidentally spliced a flat logo onto the anamorphic film; producer Joel Silver liked the look of the logo when stretched by anamorphic projection so much he insisted on retaining the flat logo for that and his two subsequent Fox films, "Die Hard 2" and "The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane" (both 1990). In a rare early example of such usage prior to the Eighties, the logo opens the trailer for "The Day The Earth Stood Still," interrupted by a news flash announcing "the mysterious sighting in outer space!"
Late in 1953, Fox established a subsidiary, Panoramic Pictures, to make non-CinemaScope B pictures, which had its own matte painting logo, "Panoramic" extending into a rectangle. In 1956, it set up another subsidiary, Regal Films, to make black-and-white CinemaScope B pictures; this company also had its own logo, a shield, but after Regal was reorganized as Associated Produc-ers in 1959, most of its films opened with just "Associated Producers Presents"; certain Associated Producers productions films such as "The Oregon Trail" (1959), "The Big Show" (1961), and "The Yellow Canary" (1963) did open with the Fox logo. No Fox logo appeared on such CinemaScope pictures the company distributed as Benedict Bogeaus' "The River's Edge" (1957), Edward L. Alperson's "September Storm" (1959), or several Rank productions Fox released theatri-cally in the United States.
(Answer to pop quiz: "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope," "High Anxiety," "Mr. Billion." The last one is tricky because the notes of the "CinemaScope extension" are incorporated softly into the score over the opening shot.)
Page 1 - Introduction
Page 2 - MGM
Page 4 - RKO
Page 5 - Paramount
Page 6 - Warner Bros
Page 7 - Columbia
Page 8 - Universal
Page 9 - UA, Republic, and others
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