The film studio 20th Century Fox has existed practically as long as Hollywood. The venerable institution started after two rivals—20th Century Pictures and Fox Film—merged in 1935 to create a production powerhouse. The studio changed hands multiple times after that, eventually ending up with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, but it remained an industry giant for almost 85 years before being acquired by Disney last month. Now one of the Big Six studios has been subsumed by a long-standing competitor, and the future of its deep movie archive is murky.
Some of Fox’s biggest hits are universally known—films such as The Sound of Music, Star Wars, Die Hard, and Independence Day, all of which helped reshape the industry in some way. But the studio made plenty of other classics that people might not associate as closely with it, calculated risks that stick out for their idiosyncrasies decades after their release. Whether Fox will continue to exist as an independent studio is unclear, but its past is worth celebrating—here are 10 Fox films from over the years that still cast an influential shadow over the world of cinema.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
F. W. Murnau’s silent classic, a Fox Film production, won the first and only Oscar for Best Unique and Artistic Picture at the first-ever Academy Awards (the category was then merged with Best Picture). The film was also the first to use the Fox Movietone sound system, properly syncing its musical score and sound effects to the picture, a revolutionary concept that helped set many technological standards in the industry. Likewise, Sunrise is a touchstone piece of storytelling in motion-picture history, a grown-up fable about a husband who is tempted by an affair and life in the big city but is symbolically redeemed. Sunrise was the first of four movies that Murnau, a German director best known for Nosferatu, made in the U.S. before his death.