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WCFTR FiStill from Kirk Douglas's film Seven Days in Maylm Collections

A film title still from the Kirk Douglas film Seven Days in May (1964)

WCFTR's most comprehensive cinema collection consists of almost two thousand 16mm reference prints of feature films from Warner Bros., RKO, and Monogram Pictures: virtually every feature released by these Hollywood studios between 1931 and 1949. Films such as Casablanca, The Jazz Singer, The Magnificent Ambersons, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, films featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or Bette Davis, films produced by Val Lewton, and thousands of other titles serve as primary sources documenting the development of the classical Hollywood cinema. The Warners film library also includes 1500 Vitaphone short subjects and over 300 cartoons from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series, from 1926 to 1949. The Warners films have accompanying documentation in the form of scripts and variant drafts, dialogue transcripts, legal files, pressbooks and 8x10 still negatives. These film libraries were donated together with the papers of United Artists, and form part of the Center's United Artists Collection.

Contemporary films, as well as American and international cinema classics, make up the thousands of additional features, shorts, and documentaries available to researchers at the Center. Most noteworthy among WCFTR's international holdings is the Rzhevsky Collection, the largest archival collection of postwar Soviet films in the United States, consisting of 35mm prints of 270 Soviet features and documentaries made during the 1950s to the 1970s, most of which were never released in the West. In 2003 the Center received a donation from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago of one of the largest collections of Taiwanese film outside Taiwan. The collection, originally a circulating library, includes sub-titled works by important directors like Ang Lee, director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Many of the films were festival prizewinners and record Taiwan's transition from a newly industrializing society to one of the region's economic powerhouses. The work of groundbreaking independent and experimental cinema is also represented in the film holdings. Collections such as those of Emile de Antonio and Shirley Clarke often contain viewing copies, printing elements, out-takes and hundreds of boxes of manuscripts, all documenting the formulation and evolution of their film making careers.

The Feature Film List provides online title access to all feature-length films held by the Center. Many of our documentaries, cartoons and short subjects can be accessed through the on-line catalogue ArCat, and all films can be found by title using the card catalogues, printed lists, indexes and other manual finding aids available at the Center.

Manuscript Collections
WCFTR manuscript collections are typically made up of production company records or the personal papers of individuals active in cinema production. The best way to locate WCFTR manuscript collections is through ARCAT, our online catalog.

The United Artists collection is the Center's largest and most comprehensive manuscript collection, consisting of the company's corporate records from its founding in 1919 until the early 1950s. It details every aspect of motion picture sales and distribution, including the company's corporate minutes and major financial records as well as information on production and distribution costs, film financing, and earnings. Exchange records document distribution and exploitation techniques; foreign department files give insight into film as an international commodity; producers' records contain information on contracts and rights, plus correspondence with many of the country's leading film makers; and the files of the company's legal counsel detail a range of activities from stockholder disputes to plagiarism suits, from antitrust cases to income tax matters.

The Center also holds collections relating to the hearings on the entertainment industries instituted by the House Un-American Activities Committee. The papers of the Hollywood Democratic Committee, the lawyers representing the Hollywood Ten, and the individual manuscripts collections of six of the Ten provide information on their careers both before and after blacklisting: Alvah Bessie, Dalton Trumbo, Ring Lardner, Herbert J. Biberman, Samuel Ornitz and Albert Maltz.

Numerous other collections document every aspect of movie making from the work of directors, producers and actors to the work of cinematographers, writers, costume and set designers. See the WCFTR Collections list for a complete listing of all our holdings.

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