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Cinema Pressbooks of the Major Hollywood Studies. From the Original Studio Collections

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About this Collection

INTRODUCTION: Cinema Pressbooks of the Major Hollywood Studies

Inroduction: Cinema Pressbooks of the Major HollywoodStudies. From the Original Studio Collections: United Artists, 1919-1949;Warner Brothers, 1922-1949; Monogram Pictures, 1937-1946


To support the rapid and accelerating growth in recent yearsof the study of cinema history, this collection makes available a range ofpreviously inaccessible primary resource materials. Students, scholars anddiscerning cinema enthusiasts are now able to consult original literature forspecific details on performers, producers, directors and individual films, inaddition to undertaking detailed research into the output of the leadingHollywood studios.


Cinema Pressbooks are a particularly rich source for basicbackground movie information. Produced for the publicity purposes of thedistributor and offering essential promotional details for individual films,the information contained therein includes publicity blurbs, posters and stillreproductions, actor biographies and full technical and promotional details.This programme, comprising Cinema Pressbooks of the major Hollywood studios,aims to provide not only a wealth of essential detail, but also to create arecord of individual studio output, in the form of detailed, illustratedsummaries. Analysis of the Pressbooks enables a comprehensive picture to bebuilt up of the foundation and initial output of two of the five majorcompanies, of the transition between silent and talking pictures, and of theGolden Years of Hollywood in the 'Thirties and 'Fourties, before the post-warslump.


The Wisconsin Center for Theater Research holds the mostcomprehensive collection of pressbooks for the three studios featured in thisseries: United Artists, Warner Brothers and Monogram Pictures. A total of 1700pressbooks are reproduced, covering respectively the years 1919-1949, 1922-1949and 1937-1946. The material is filmed alphabetically within four majorsubdivisions: Warner Brothers Sound Features, Warner Brothers SilentFeatures, Monogram Features and United Artists and Eagle Lion Features.


The pressbooks from the Warner Brothers studio cover anarray of movie genres, including: Social Drama, Gangster, Comedy, Mystery,Musicals and Womens Films. Outstanding performers such as Humphrey Bogart,James Cagney, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Ruby Keeler and Edward G. Robinsonfeature prominently, and classic movies include the first talking picture, TheJazz Singer, musicals such as 42nd Street and Yankee Doodle Dandyand the revolutionary gangers movies Little Caesar and The PublicEnemy. The promotion campaigns for many of the most famous Hollywood moviesare covered in these pressbooks, which spans the whole range and variety ofWarner Brothers productions, from the silent era to the transition into talkingpictures, which Warner Brothers pioneered.


Likewise, the pressbooks of United Artists focus on a stringof important silent and talking movies Rebecca, Stage Coach, TheThree Musketeers, The Thief of Bagdad, The Birth of a Nation,The Great Dictator and Wuthering Heights amonst them. Founded in1919 by Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin and D.W. Griffith,the studio doubled as film maker in its own right and distributor forindependent producers. Other major and influential figures to feature at UnitedArtists included Joseph M. Schenck, Sam Goldwyn, David O. Selznick and JohnHuston, all of whom played a decisive role in differing facets of filmproduction.


Monogram Pictures captured the sentiment of the filmgoerwith a series of supporting B grade movies Westerns, Mysteries, UrbanComedies and Dramas. The Studio was responsible for the projection of suchenduring fictional characters as Charlie Chan and the Dead End Kids, and thepopularity of Monogram is ascertainable from the knowledge that it suppliedtelevision networks with up to 20% of their daily schedules in the early days.


Although the intention has been to reproduce the material inits entirety, inevitably, the passage of time has resulted in a small number ofpage losses and some damage to a few original pressbooks. Therefore, anyomissions and discrepancies in foliation are regrettable, but unavoidable.


The Pressbook collection is published as part of thecomplete Cinema History Programme which also incorporates the Wisconsin/WarnerBrothers Screenplay Series. This Series reproduces virtually everyimportant screenplay produced by the studio from 1929 to 1949, and provides acomplete exposition of the creative process the evolution of movies fromscenario to celluloid.