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Popular arts project : oral history, 1958-1960.

Project: Popular arts project.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcripts 7, 812 leaves.
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
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Scope and Contents

Material on the development of the performing arts in this century is provided here through interviews with producers, directors, writers, playwrights, scenarists, composers, lyricists, orchestra conductors, designers, cinematographers, film cutters, actors, dancers, advertising and promotion men, distributors, music publishers, song "pluggers," journalists, columnists, critics, and "fan" magazine editors. The development of the motion picture is described from early nickelodeon days: early studios and equipment in New York and New Jersey and acting, directing, and film distribution techniques; the Hollywood mythology from the time the industry moved to California until the coming of sound; recollections of the emergence of slapstick comedy, the Mack Sennett Studios and others; scandals and provocative films; state censorship; pressure groups and the origin of the Motion Picture Code; analyses of artistic problems created by the Code, of European influences and of the appeal of the silent film; the effects of the introduction of sound; mechanical and technical innovations, new ideas in acting, writing and producing. The Hollywood of the 1930s is portrayed in comments on its social structure, life on the lot, and the life of a child actor, as well as in reflections on the intellectual, social, and political climate of the New Deal era, the California election of 1934, artistic problems, the economics of the industry, and block booking. Problems of the postwar period, in particular the impact of television and of charges of Communism upon the entertainment industry, are detailed together with other major changes: the arrival of new faces with training in other media, influence of the Motion Picture Code in the 1950s, and the decline of the studios with the rise of independent producers and agencies. Some of the films discussed are: The Great Train Robbery, Intolerance, Sunrise, Safety Last, The Jazz Singer, A Day at the Races, San Francisco, Gone with the Wind, How Green Was My Valley, The Southerner, The Best Years of Our Lives, Marty, Twelve Angry Men, Mr. Roberts, and the The Three Faces of Eve. Personalities discussed include D.W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., John Gilbert, Rudolph Valentino, Carl Laemmle, Irving Thalberg, Louis B. Mayer, Frederic Murnau, Ernst Lubitsch, Harry Langdon, and W.C. Fields. Interviews in the field of popular music cover Tin Pan Alley and the vaudeville circuits, techniques of publicizing songs, styles in popular songs, effects of the player piano, phonograph and radio, music and the movies, the era of the big bands, and more recent trends in popular music. Interviews on the stage cover the theater of Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern and George Gershwin, the stock company as training ground, the road, the Group Theatre, the Stanislavsky method, new methods of acting and directing, Actors' Studio, changes in business methods, the role of the legitimate theater in contemporary life, artistic freedom, comparisons of stage with screen techniques, concentration of theater in New York City. Parts I, II and III were done from 1958 to 1960 by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Franklin of New York, N.Y. Part IV was contributed by Professor Arthur B. Friedman of the University of California at Los Angeles. Part V contains interviews conducted by John E. Booth and Lewis Funke of Rye, N.Y. Participants, pagination and restrictions as noted: Walter C. Abel, 41; Jean and Julian Aberbach, 33; Edward Albee and Alan Schneider, 86 (permission required); Willard Alexander, 34; G.M. Anderson, 35; Dana Andrews, 50; George K. Arthur, 22; Abel Baer, 23; Richard Barthelmess, 45; Ralph Bellamy, 31; Louis Bernstein, 22; Walter Bishop, 39; Sidney Blackmer, 50; Louis A. Bonn, 33; Richard A. Boone, 36; Charles Brackett, 25; Harry Brandt, 69; Irving Caesar, 32; James Cagney, 56; Frank Capra, 73; Morris Carnovsky, 55 (permission required); John Cassavetes, 28; Betty Comden and Adolph Green, 59; Chester Conklin, 22; Marcus Cook Connelly, 43; Jackie Cooper, 86; Katharine Cornell, 106; John Cromwell, 45; Bosley Crowther, 32; Morton Da Costa, 43; Delmer Daves, 66; Alfred Delacorte, 57; William Demarest, 62; Cecil B. De Mille, 24; Reginald Denham, 64; Reginald Leigh Denny, 34; Edward Dmytryk, 78; Melvyn Douglas, 29; Glenda Farrell, 61; Jose Ferrer, 70 (permission required); Betty Field, 49; Dorothy Fields, 40; Gracie Fields, 49; Henry Fonda, 62; Carl Foreman, 44; Arthur Freed, 16; Milton Gabler, 69; Lee Garmes, 64; Janet Gaynor, 28; Louis Wolfe Gilbert, 19; Benny Goodman, 16; Jay Gorney, 42; Sheilah Graham, 21; Bonita Granville, 38; Albert Hackett, 37; Oscar Hammerstein II, 34; Earle Woolridge Hammons, 19; Otto Harbach, 48; Julie Harris, 31; Sessue Hayakawa, 95; George Francis Hayes, 60; Ben Hecht, 64; Ray Henderson, 19; Joe Higgins, 43; Participants and pagination continued: Pat Hingle, 74; Celeste Holm, 96; Nunnally Johnson, 51; Eric Johnston, 23; Dave Kapp, 31; Boris Kaufman, 33; Buster Keaton, 39; Gene Kelly, 22; Burton Lane, 35; Paul N. Lazarus, Jr., 41; Lila Lee, 46; Jack Lemmon, 55; Edgar Leslie, 13; Katherine Handy (Mrs. Homer) Lewis, 27; Robert Lewis, 61; Anatole Litvak, 23; Harold Lloyd, 76; Anita Loos, 37; Myrna Loy, 57; Sidney Lumet, 54; Joel McCrea, 30; Jeannette McDonald, 61; Roddy McDowall, 58; James Francis McHugh, 81; Kenneth MacKenna, 44; Aline MacMahon, 28; Don Malkames, 23; Rouben Mamoulian, 115 (closed during lifetime); Joseph Mankiewicz, 70; Delbert Mann, 61; Frances Marion, 29; Herbert Marks, 35; Mae Marsh, 40; Arthur L. Mayer, 43; William Mellor, 43; Joseph Meyer, 25; Arthur Miller, 44; Mitch Miller, 86; Robert Miller, 18; Douglass Montgomery, 98; Cary Morgan, 21; Chester Morris, 34; Mae Murray, 28; Henry Myers, 123; Conrad Nagel, 59; Nita Naldi, 22; Jean Negulesco, 21; Paul Newman, 66; Elliott Nugent, 85; Adolph Olman, 29; Geraldine Page, 97; Evelyn Pain, 37; Alan Parado, 30; Dorothy Parker, 20; Louella O. Parsons, 35; William Perlberg, 33; Mary Pickford, 94; Otto Preminger, 37; Martin Joseph Quigley, 26; Richard Quine, 35; Tony Randall, 63; Samson Raphaelson, 123 (permission required); Basil Rathbone, 32; Gottfried Reinhardt, 39; Jean Renoir, 23; Blanche Ring, 18; Leo Rosten, 103; Harry Ruby, 39; Charles Ruggles, 42; Dore Schary, 87 (permission required); Arthur Schwartz, 20; Zachary Scott, 30; Participants and pagination continued: George Seaton, 46; David O. Selznick, 21; Sigmund Spaeth, 52; Samuel and Bella Loebel Spewack, 49; Kim Stanley, 41; Maureen Stapleton, 79 (permission required); Rod Steiger, 86; Albert E. Sutherland, 188; Gloria Swanson, 50; Akim Tamiroff, 56; King Wallis Vidor, 49; Rocco Vocco, 31; Tommy Volando, 12; Jerry Wald, 66; Eli Wallach, 22; Hal Wallis, 40; Bert Wheeler, 36; Meredith Willson, 42; Carey Wilson, 90; Julius Witmark, 23; Joanne Woodward, 74; Teresa Wright, 47; Jack Yellen, 40; Max Youngstein, 52; Adolph Zukor, 37. In 1958-1959, Group W of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company worked in collaboration with Columbia University's Oral History Research Office to create a series of radio programs called "Memoirs of the Movies" featuring the collection's narrators. The collection contains the following episodes of this series in transcript or audio form: "Nuts Among the Oranges," "Two Kids for a Nickel," "The Birth of a Boffo," "The Day the Screen Screamed," "The Film Factories," "Two-Minute Take," "The Megaphone Men," "Requiem for a Writer," "Hollywood at Home," "Movies and Music," "Clips from the Classics," "The Film Factories Revisited," "The Movies: Art or Industry," "Movies and Morals," "The Big, Big Screen," "The Hollywood Tycoons," "The New Hollywood," "The Rush to Reality," "The Star Studded Stable," "Hollywood is a Dirty Word," "Caste and Casting," "Plenty of Room at the Top," "Svengali," and "Can Art and Hollywood Coexist." Many narrators in the collection also have excerpts of audio from reels associated with the creation of the "Memoirs of the Movies" shows. These excerpts are noted with their interview-level records


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