Film in the Archive

February 19, 2013

There has long been a relationship between literary production and filmmaking — from the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathanael West toiling away to produce screenplays for the Hollywood studio system, to film versions of contemporary literary novels and short stories such as Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, and Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain.” The Collection documents filmmaking, with a particular emphasis on experimental projects, through the medium’s various paper trails: scripts, treatments, production materials, journals, stills, publicity ephemera such as posters and lobby cards, and, occasionally, rare footage of short films and home movies. Highlights can be found, for example, in papers relating to H. D., Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman), and Kenneth Macpherson’s Pool Films and Close Up magazine, Stan Brakhage, Gerard Malanga, and the Gene Persson Collection of Dutchman Papers. A recent acquisition is the Mark Wolff Collection of Photoplay Editions — over 2000 volumes that document tie-ins between popular novels and motion pictures, ca. 1915 – 1960. Importantly, while the photoplay edition is often a reprint of a particular novel or play, or a novelization or adaptation from the screenplay, the earliest examples are sometimes the only remaining trace of lost films, especially silent movies.

Related Pages: Modern Literary Archives, African American Writers’ Archives, The Modern American Novel, American Dramatists

Image: Lobby card for Herbert Brenon’s 1926 production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Collection Highlights Exhibited in Multitudes: A Celebration of the Yale Collection of American Literature:A selection of American photoplay editions, screenplays, and first editions of novels made into films. Film in the Archive – Checklist & Object Descriptions