University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

King Vidor:

An Inventory of His Collection in the Film Collection at the Harry Ransom Center



Creator: Vidor, King, 1894-1982
Title: King Vidor Collection
Dates: 1924-1941 (bulk 1941)
Abstract: The King Vidor collection consists of photographs, scripts, props, publicity materials, production reports, studio memos, and other production materials primarily from the 1941 film H. M. Pulham, Esquire.
Extent: 9 document boxes, 20 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder (20.16 linear feet)
Language: English
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Biographical Sketch

King Wallis Vidor was born February 8, 1894, in Galveston, Texas, to Charles Shelton and Katie Lee (Wallis) Vidor. The son of a prosperous lumber merchant, Vidor saw his first movie, A Trip to the Moon, at age fifteen, and later worked a summer job as a ticket taker and relief projectionist at Galveston’s first movie theatre.

After leaving high school, Vidor made newsreel footage and short films around Galveston and Houston. While in Houston he made several films with fellow Texan Edward Sedgwick, who later gained prominence as a comedy director. In 1915, Vidor married aspiring actress Florence Arto and the two soon moved to California.

Arriving in Hollywood, Vidor found minor jobs at movie studios, eventually working as a freelance scenarist and short film director for Universal. In 1919, Vidor directed his first feature film, The Turn in the Road, backed by the small independent Brentwood Film Corporation. He made several more films for Brentwood before directing his first major studio production for Metro Pictures, Peg o' My Heart (1922). The movie's success brought Vidor steady work at Metro, which soon became known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).

Over the next thirty-five years, Vidor directed more than forty movies for MGM, Paramount Pictures, Selznick Pictures, and Warner Brothers. Notable among his films are The Big Parade (1925), which became the highest grossing silent movie ever released, and Hallelujah (1929), Vidor's first sound film and the first major Hollywood production featuring an all-black cast. He directed (uncredited) the Kansas sequences in The Wizard of Oz (1939) and was nominated for Best Director Academy Awards for The Crowd (1928), Hallelujah (1929), The Champ (1931), The Citadel (1938), and War and Peace (1956). He received an honorary Academy Award in 1979 for his "incomparable achievements as a cinematic creator and innovator." He also served as president of the Screen Directors Guild from 1936 to 1938.

After retiring from directing in 1959, Vidor taught at film schools at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles. He died in Paso Robles, California, on November 1, 1982.


Scope and Contents

The King Vidor collection consists of photographs, scripts, props, publicity materials, production reports, studio memos, and other production materials primarily from the 1941 film H. M. Pulham, Esquire. Vidor donated the Pulham materials to The University of Texas Drama Department in conjunction with his guest lecture on movie making at the university on December 3, 1941. The materials were intended to form the nucleus of a program for the study of the production and direction of motion pictures, organized by Drama Department Chairman James Parke, Interstate Theatres President Karl Hoblitzelle, and Paramount Pictures Executive Vice President Y. Frank Freeman. Also in the collection are a typescript of Vidor's 1936 film The Texas Rangers and an accompanying photo of Vidor, and four additional photographs of Vidor dating from around 1924. The materials are arranged by volume, with H. M. Pulham, Esquire constituting almost the entire collection. The two Texas Rangers items and the four circa 1924 photographs are housed at the end of the collection.

The H. M. Pulham, Esquire materials are arranged roughly in order of their creation or use in the film-making process. Besides directing the film, Vidor also acted as producer and adapted the screenplay with his third wife, Elizabeth Hill, from the novel of the same name by John P. Marquand. Marquand, a Pulitzer Prize winner, helped Vidor and Hill work on the screenplay and is pictured with Vidor in one of the movie's research photos.

Included in the materials are the book review that inspired Vidor to make the film, Vidor's working copy of the book with numerous handwritten notations, and a transcription of a letter from Marquand to Vidor about the screenplay. Also present are several drafts of the screenplay, including retakes, the script clerk's copy, and the prop man's copy.

Photographs constitute the bulk of the materials and include costume, makeup, set, production, and film stills. The film's stars, Hedy Lamarr, Robert Young, Ruth Hussey, Charles Coburn, Van Heflin, Fay Holden, and Bonita Granville, are depicted in many of the photos. Publicity photos of actors and actresses considered for casting but not selected are also present.

Scenes and settings are documented with twenty production design sketches, and with architectural drawings and models for six of the movie's sets. Costume sketches include twenty-two original women's gowns by Robert Kalloch and thirty-three men's wardrobe sketches by Gile Steele, a six-time nominee and two-time winner of Academy Awards for costume design.

The tools of film making are represented by various props, a production board with shooting schedules, a scene slate, and a small brass periscope. Various daily reports and breakdowns for production, footage, and wardrobe track the financial and business aspects of the film.

Comment cards from members of a preview audience accompany editing notes from the preview. The original musical score by Branislaw Kaper is documented with one folder of sheet music, memos, editing notes, and photographs of the orchestral recording.

Several items located with publicity materials may actually have been used for Vidor’s lectures at The University of Texas. Other publicity materials include box office analyses, advertising plans, clippings, and promotional images.

All of the H. M. Pulham, Esquire materials date from 1941, except for a 1932 photograph from the MGM location department. A prop photograph depicting the lead character's World War I army unit is a photo of an actual army unit, identified in writing on the image as "137th Engineers USA 1918," but the date of the print is unknown.

The Texas Rangers script and accompanying photograph, signed by Vidor to the University of Texas, were presented to the university on the occasion of Vidor's August 28, 1936, visit to Dallas, Texas, for the world premiere of The Texas Rangers at the Majestic Theatre. Inspired by Walter Prescott Webb's book, Vidor wrote the screenplay, again in collaboration with his wife Elizabeth Hill, and premiered the movie in cooperation with the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration.

Four matted photographs of Vidor dating from around 1924 include handwritten captions indicating their use in magazine or newspaper stories. Their provenance is undetermined.


Restrictions

Access:

Open for research


Index Terms

People
Brown, Phil, 1916-1973
Clyde, Dave
Coburn, Charles Douville, 1877-
Cooper, Bobbie
Erickson, Leif, 1911-
Granville, Bonita, 1923-
Heflin, Van, 1910-1971
Hill, Elizabeth
Holden, Fay, 1893-1973
Hussey, Ruth, 1917-
Kalloch, 1893-
Kapar, Branislaw, 1902-
Lamarr, Hedy, 1915-
Marquand, John P. (John Phillips), 1893-1960
Steele, Gile
Organizations
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Paramount Pictures
Subjects
H. M. Pulham, Esquire (Motion picture)
The Texas Rangers (Motion picture : 1936)
Motion picture producers and directors--United States
Motion pictures--History
Motion pictures--Production and direction
Motion pictures--United States
Document Types
Architectural drawings
Architectural models
Film stills
Motion pictures
Photographs
Props
Scores
Scripts
Screenplays
Sheet music

Related Material

King Vidor correspondence can be found at The Harry Ransom Center in the Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records, The E. P. Conkle Papers, the Margaret Cousins Papers, The Robert Downing Papers, the Alice Corbin Henderson Collection, the David O. Selznick Collection, and the Swami Vidyatmananda Collection.

Additional King Vidor archival materials are located at The University of California at Los Angeles, The University of Southern California, Brigham Young University, Columbia University, and the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution.


Administrative Information

Acquisition:

Gifts, 1936, 1941

Processed by:

Luke Borders, Stephen Mielke, 2005


Sources

Baxter, John. King Vidor. New York: Monarch, 1976.

"King Vidor." The Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm08965421. Accessed 2 March 2005.

Vidor, King. A Tree is a Tree. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1953.


Container List

H. M. Pulham, Esquire (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1941)
Container
1.1 Book-of-the-Month Club News, 1941 February
Container
1.2 Annotated copy of book and typed movie outline, 1941
Container
1.3 Typed transcription of letter from J. P. Marquand to Vidor, 1941 March 21
First script
Container
1.4 Typescript, 1941 March 25
Container
1.5-6 Mimeo copies, 1941 March 25
Container
2.1 Completed script, 1941 April 25
Container
2.2 Final script with retakes, 1941 June 25-October 24
Container
2.3 Script clerk's script, undated
Container
2.4 Prop man's script, undated
Container
3.1 Studio department memos and production correspondence, 1941 June-September
Research photographs
Container
3.2 Boston, undated
Container
3.3 Advertising agency offices, undated
Container
3.4 Assistant director's book, 1941
Set designs
Container
osf Architectural drawings, 1941 July-August
Architectural models, undated
Container
21 Scene 06, interior Pulham Sr.'s
Container
22 Scene 07, interior Pulham Jr.'s
Container
23 Scene 14, interior upper floor
Container
24 Scene 24, interior Italian restaurant
Container
25 Scene 25, interior Westwood lower floor
Container
26 Scene 34, interior Westwood upper floor
Props, 1941, undated
Container
29 Bayonet
Container
18 Boston Sphere newspaper
Container
9 Coza Flakes soap, two boxes
Container
3.5 Envelope addressed to Harry M. Pulham
Container
29 Hand grenades, three
Container
28 "Harry's company A.E.F.," framed photograph identified under mat as 147th Engineers 1918 USA
Container
3.5 Letter on H. M. Pulham letterhead
Letters on Harvard University Class of 1916 Letterhead, two
Container
28 Pack stage cigarettes
Container
29 Pistol (in fragments)
Sketches
Container
osf "Artist sketch for 1920 Period," 27 x 20 inches
Container
18 Catch Run Hosiery, 22 x 18 inches
Comfort Cut Shoes, 21.5 x 19 inches
Coza Soap, two 20 x 15 inches
Container
osf "Sketch for advertising agency, 1921 period," 31.5 x 24 inches
Container
3.5 True Love Story magazine with one 4 x 5 inch film still
Container
3.6 Wardrobe breakdown, 1941 July
Container
10-15 Wardrobe design sketches, 1941 July-August
Container
3.7 Production breakdown, 1941 August 1, undated
Container
16-18 Production design sketches, undated
Container
3.8 Footage breakdown, undated
Container
3.9 Blank budget sheets and studio telephone directory, 1941 September
Container
3.10 Casting memos, circulars and final selections, 1941 May-September
Container
3.11 Performers considered, photographs, 1941
MGM Player Roster
Container
4.1-2 Actors photographs, 1941
Container
4.3-4 Actresses photographs, 1941
Container
4.5 Players Directory, Issue 24, 1941 July
Container
5.1 Shooting schedules, 1941 July-August
Container
19 Production board, 1941
Container
20 Production slate, 1941 August 15
Container
28 Periscope, brass frame with square mirrors, marked "25MM LENS | C. L. Q7 CAMERA 4.0 FROM FLOOR," 8 x 2.5 x 3 inches, undated
Container
5.2 Script clerk's daily screen report, 1941 August-September
Container
5.3-4 Daily progress report, 1941 August-November
Container
5.5 Second unit reports, 1941 August-November
Container
5.6 Daily light tests film canister label, 1941
Container
5.7 Make-up stills, 1941 August
Wardrobe stills, 1941 August
Container
5.8 Brown, Phil
Container
5.9 Clyde, Dave
Container
5.10 Coburn, Charles
Container
5.11 Cooper, Bobbie
Container
6.1 Erickson, Leif
Container
6.2 Granville, Bonita
Container
6.3 Heflin, Van
Container
6.4 Holden, Fay
Container
6.5 Hussey, Ruth
Container
6.6 Lamarr, Hedy
Container
6.7 Location stills, 1932-1941
Container
6.8-7.1 Set stills, 1941, August-September
Container
7.2-3 Film stills, 1941, August-September
Frame enlargements
Container
7.4 Hedy Lamarr and Robert Young, 1941
Container
7.5-8.1 General, 1941
Container
8.2 Sheet music, cutter's notes, music department memos, and photographs, 1941 October, undated
Container
27 Preview audience comment cards, 1941 October
Container
8.3 Preview and cutting notes, 1941 October
Publicity
Container
8.4 Promotional manuals, graphics, and clippings, 1941 August-November
Container
17 Oversize items
Container
8.5 "Brings a Picture to the Screen," loose film stills, 1941
Container
18 "The Director, King Vidor, at work," matted film stills, 1941
Container
17 Vidor at work on H. M. Pulham, Esquire, framed photograph 1941
Container
8.6 "Notes on techniques employed," typescript and mimeo copies, 1941
The Texas Rangers (Paramount Pictures, 1936)
Container
8.7 Typescript, 1936
Container
17 Signed photograph of King Vidor, 1936
Vidor, King
Container
18 Four matted photographs of Vidor with captions, circa 1924