© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How ‘The Founder’ Made McDonald’s Explode

Michael Keaton (center) stars as McDonald's titan Ray Kroc in John Lee Hancock's new film, "The Founder." (Courtesy the Weinstein Company)
Michael Keaton (center) stars as McDonald's titan Ray Kroc in John Lee Hancock's new film, "The Founder." (Courtesy the Weinstein Company)

Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc in a new film on the creation of McDonald’s. We’ll talk with the director of “The Founder.”

These days, and for a long time now, McDonald’s is all over and as common as ground beef. But there was a time in the 1950s and 60s, when McDonald’s was something very new and exciting. The man who pumped the excitement and took it global was Ray Kroc. He became super-wealthy. But when he found McDonald’s he was fifty-something and kind of in trouble. A new movie tells the story.  This hour On Point, McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, and the director of the new film, “The Founder.” — Tom Ashbrook


John Lee Hancock, filmmaker and director. His new film is “The Founder.” Also director of “Saving Mr. Banks” and “The Blind Side.”

Logan Albright, researcher and writer for the Conservative Review.  Director of research for Free the People, a non-profit education and advocacy organization. ( @loganalbright73)

Peter Frost, food industry and beverage reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business. ( @PeterFrost)

From Tom’s Reading List

New Yorker: “The Founder”— Tucked inside the title is a gristly joke. Kroc did not found McDonald’s. In 1954, he came upon the concept of fast food, in the enterprising hands of Mac and Dick, took it up, took it over, and built the corporation that we know today, with its sacred mission to swell the planet’s girth.

The Atlantic: The Founder Is the Fast Food of Biopics — “Ray Kroc’s story is a distinctly American one; it’s a tale of business success marked by corporate greed, dodgy backroom deals, and an overwhelming desire for sameness. Kroc was the salesman who took a small burger restaurant in San Bernardino, California, franchised it around the country, and turned it into the McDonald’s Corporation—and he only had to disrespect the wishes of the restaurant’s actual founders to do it. It’s a rather bleak rise to prosperity, but an interesting one nonetheless, since so much of Kroc’s skill at spreading McDonald’s around the country relied on his packaging of a fast-food restaurant as a plain, inoffensive monument to American family values.”

Conservative Review: Who Knew You Had It In You, Hollywood? ‘The Founder’ Shows McDonald’s And Capitalism in a Positive Light — “It’s hard not to empathize with Kroc. Most of us have been in a position of being young and hungry, and watching him transform his passion into success is gratifying. But Kroc is no hero, and he’s certainly no saint. He gets carried away. Driven partially by both raw ambition financial desperation, he begins to behave unethically, violating his contract with the McDonalds, cheating them out of money they’re owed, and ultimately purging them from the company and driving them out of business.”

Watch A Trailer For “The Founder”


Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

More On This Topic