Don't Say No Until I Finish Talking: Richard D. Zanuck

Richard Zanuck is a man who spent most of his life living under the shadow of his father Darryl F. Zanuck, and what is most peculiar and quite riveting about Richard Zanuck’s story is that rather than trying to step out of his dad’s shadow, he embraced his father’s status and used it to his advantage. Often times we hear of someone chastising their own status as a wealthy successor, but Richard Zanuck used this fact as a means of bettering himself, and carving his own niche in the Hollywood business.

Zanuck spent most of his life using the wealth as a means of advancing his own love for sports, as well as his physical agility. When entering in to the movie making business, Zanuck was able to garner his own form of respect that was partially based on his dad’s reputation, and eventually was centered on his own ability to make money for studios, and fund truly influential movies. While Richard D. Zanuck didn’t always garner an advantage thanks to his choice of which movies to fund, his choices ultimately created the persona of a man who was immensely personable, and incredibly confident, thus successful in the system.”Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking” explores Zanuck’s propensity for following his gut, which ultimately caused him to collide with his father Darryl, who for better or worse became an antiquated cog in Hollywood, while Richard was the future.

While forming his own company, and spending most of his life trying to acquire his dad’s approval, Zanuck learned a lot about dealing with actors and directors, as well as also discovering a lot of famed filmmakers. There is compelling anecdotes on his meetings with a young Steven Spielberg who he had confidence in as a filmmaker, but couldn’t quite entrust him with a movie of his own, as well as his belief in the skills of a young Ron Howard, who he granted the classic film “Cocoon” to direct, ultimately landing him on the radar as a legitimate film director. These decisions were also the cause of hits such as “Planet of the Apes,” and “The Sound of Music,” both of which were then considered risky titles to back, but became iconic films in their own right that delivered in immense financial returns, in the end. Zanuck’s life is filled with hardship and obstacles, in spite of his immense wealth, and he was able to build himself as a man who could fuel a studio system with his choices right until the very end.

“Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking” discussed Richard D. Zanuck’s personal life with his past wives, as well as his bond with his children, and his surviving wife Lili Fini Zanuck, who managed to gain Richard’s respect, and become his best friend and most trusted confidante on the lot. We gain a new respect for the man who re-defined what it was like to be a film producer, and what it meant to have confidence, not just in the projects, but in the people behind he projects. “Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking'” is a touching and unpretentious profile of a beloved Hollywood icon, and it’s assuredly a documentary worth watching for anyone interested in the Hollywood system and Zanuck’s lasting legacy

“Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking” premieres on the Turner Classic Movies channel May 8th. Check Local Listings. Following the premiere, Turner Classic Movies will air three Richard D Zanuck movies: “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Cocoon,” and “Compulsion.”