World Magazine, Issue 3.1, April 1998
Westwood's Fortune: UCLA Film and Television Archive
by Jere Guldin
Part of the UCLA Archive's operations are located in what
was formerly the Technicolor plant in Hollywood.
Photo courtesy of and © UCLA.
In vault 11 on the Warner Bros. lot were negatives to classic feature films from the 1940s. Vault 15 held missing picture elements to early Vitaphone sound short subjects of the 1920s. In vault 30, Jack Warner's personal holding vault, were negatives to numerous U.S. and foreign films, from both the silent and sound eras, long thought lost. In vault 10 were black & white and Technicolor prints to most of the "Looney Tune" and "Merrie Melodie" shorts from more than two decades, original Technicolor successive exposure negatives of Warner Bros. cartoons from 1948 through 1951, and Technicolor negatives to the Fleischer/Famous Studio Superman series.
All of these were acquired by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Film and Television Archive in a deposit of nitrate prints and negatives made by Warner Bros. in 1989. Included in the deposit were over 500 prints, and nearly 200 negatives, of Warner Bros. cartoons.
This wasn't the first major collection of animation received by the archive. Nor will it be the last.
The Film Collection
As the largest university-based media archive in the United States, UCLA Film and Television Archive's holdings number well over 200,000. Included in the collection are rare nitrate and safety-based feature films, short subjects and news reels; unique television kinescopes and tapes; and original radio transcription disks.
Animation has always been an integral part of the collection. One of the archive's first major acquisitions also comprises the largest segment of its animated holdings. Spanning the years 1927 through 1951, the archive holds the National Telefilm Associates/Republic Pictures pre-print materials of Paramount Pictures short subjects. Included in the collection are original nitrate negatives to many of the Fleischer "Inkwell Imps," "Color Classic," "Screen Song," "Talkartoon," and "Betty Boop" cartoons; Famous Studio "Noveltoon" and "Little Lulu" subjects; and "Puppetoons" by George Pal. A sizable number of 35mm and 16mm prints enhance this collection.
Not as large a collection, but certainly as significant, is the Blackhawk Films/Film Preservation Associates Van Beuren and Ub Iwerks nitrate negatives and prints from the 1930s, and Paul Terry's "Aesop's Film Fables" from the 1920s. A large number of vintage 16mm Kodascope Libraries prints of "Out of the Inkwell" and "Felix the Cat" cartoons comprise just part of the Stanford Theatre Collection of silent films. Other collections include nitrate negatives and prints from animation luminaries such as Walter Lantz, Rudy Ising, George Pal and Robert Abel. International animation and student films are also well represented.
The hallway of a nitrate storage building,
containing ten individual, specially-built storage
vaults. The archive's nitrate film collection
occupies 57 such vaults. Photo courtesy of
and © UCLA.
The Small Screen Holdings
Animation holdings in the archive's television collection may not be as extensive, but certainly are as wide-ranging. From ABC came 16mm prints of programs, many with original commercials, such as The Bugs Bunny Show, Beany and Cecil, and George of the Jungle, plus a large number of Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club shows. Examples of early television animation include episodes of Crusader Rabbit, Jim and Judy in Teleland and The Ruff and Reddy Show. A continually-growing collection is the Emmy Award nominees from each year, placed with the archive annually by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. There are also hundreds of animated commercials, spanning from the 1950s to the present.
Viewing Facilities and Preservation
Many of the archive's prints and videos can be made available for on-site viewing at its Research and Study Center on the UCLA campus. Titles held only in 35mm must be seen at the archive's Hollywood facility. Campus viewing appointments are held free of charge, but there is a fee for 35mm viewing.
Interior of a nitrate vault. Each vault
is capable of housing over 1,000
cans, or more than a million feet
Photo courtesy of and © UCLA.
Animation preservation is a priority at the archive. Films preserved stretch from the beginning of the century through the 1940s, ranging from silent film fragments to Technicolor sound cartoons. A small amount of preserved animation footage and related stories are also to be found in the Hearst Newsreel collection, the rights to which are owned by the archive. (In addition to actively preserving and restoring these newsreels, the archive licenses footage from them through its Commercial Services division.) Many of the animated films preserved by the archive can be seen during its annual "Festival of Preservation," a month-long series of restored motion pictures and television programs held on the UCLA campus.
To research the archive's collection, contact: UCLA Film and Television Archive, Research and Study Center, 180 Powell Library, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024, U.S.A. or phone (310) 206-5388, fax (310) 205-5392.
For information about licensing footage from the Hearst Newsreel collection, contact: UCLA Film and Television Archive, Commercial Services, 1015 North Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038, or phone (213) 466-8559, fax (213) 461-6317.
To receive the archive's calendars and newsletters, contact: UCLA Film and Television Archive, 302 East Melnitz, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024, or phone (310) 206-8013, fax (310) 206-3129.
Additional information about UCLA Film and Television Archive can be found on the archive's web site at www.cinema.ucla.edu
Jere Guldin is a film preservationist at UCLA Film and Television Archive, and director of the Animation Preservation Project for ASIFA-Hollywood. He has written articles on animation history and preservation for various magazines and journals.
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