On Wednesday, the whole group met up at the Warner Bros. Archive at USC, where we were given a tour by the curator, Brett. The tour began with a brief overview of the history of the archive. Brett explained how the archive was donated by Warner Bros. to the University of Southern California in 1978, and that the archive holds a vast range of Warner Bros. film, television and music material dating between 1918 and 1968. Due to a number of reasons, including the condition of the items, as well as copyright restrictions, the items held in the archive have not been digitised, and are therefore only available to access by researchers on-site. Furthermore, surrounding the edges of the study room, sits the 1500 bound volumes of the archives indexes, detailing the 17,000 boxes of material held on-site. In order to make accessing documents relating the most popular/most frequently requested films easier for both staff and researchers, the archive has ready made-up boxes of records/documents for certain film titles. Brett had set-out one of these boxes for us to look through, to see the sorts of material held in the archive; the film was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) starring Humphrey Bogart. The file included correspondence from the research department file, script/story developments, legal files, set department stills, budget and other financial statements, press releases, wardrobe and make-up files, as well as more general inter-office memos and correspondence. After taking time as a group to move around and look through the documents, Brett took us on a tour of the building to see where they pull all these different files from, in order to make up the boxes for each individual researcher’s requests. During the tour, we got to see some other fascinating items, such as original drawings of Daffy Duck, as well as original musical scores.
After the tour, the group split, and those of us who had material still to go through stayed at the archive, and the rest headed off to continue with their own research in the other other archives and libraries.
On Thursday, I headed back to the Margaret Herrick for my last day in the archives. I had received an email in the morning from Louise, the Research Specialist, to say that she had spoken with the Script Archive Specialist again, and they would be able to copy the ten pages I required from the The Scarlett Letter (1926) script. After submitting and paying for my Special Collections photocopying list (the material from which I will receive in the post in approx. 6 weeks), I spent the day researching digitised fan magazine collections, and looking through materials in the library’s Cecil B De Mille Reading Room, including a 1928 actor training manual that Steve had found and set aside for me: The Manual of the Cinema Schools, Incorporated: Developing the Motion Picture Player by John E. Ince. The book contained a wealth of detailed exercises, advice, explanations, and technical definitions for the aspiring movie star. It also includes a series of vocal warm ups. Despite being evident in a lot of the other actor training manual I have read, the aspect I find most interesting about this particular text is the heightened emphasis on the compartmentalisation of the mind, body, and emotion. The book even contains a diagram which highlights the different ‘zones’ of the body (although there does not appear to be an accompanying index). Similarly, the book makes several references to ‘moods’ and ‘energy’, and how these can be used to improve the physicality of the actor, especially ‘cheerfulness’. It will be interesting to cross-reference the language used, and the advice and techniques offered in this text, with the other manuals I have consulted, in addition to the testimonies and writings by my key actresses when I return to the office next week.
In terms of magazine research, I continued to look into the Paramount Pictures School, and I discovered an article which lists some of the subject areas that the school intends to teach. I also had another quick chat with Louise, as it does not appear that the archive holds any official school records, or anything of a similar official nature. It may be that there are details enclosed within various miscellaneous correspondence between school board members, but it would not be possible - or an appropriate use of time/resources at this point - to dig into that now. However, it may be the case that if the Paramount archives ever become publicly accessible, or even just open to researchers, then all the information will be readily available there!