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Fox Movietone News collection

 Collection
Identifier: COD0000001-ACC 1980-0001
The collection contains seven million feet of nitrate motion picture film and four million feet of safety motion picture film documenting the national and global politics and culture from 1919 through 1934 and from September 1942 through August 1944. Paper holdings provide detailed notes generated by original camera crews as well as ephemera related to individual stories.

Within the collection are elements from two distinct newsreel products. One is a silent newsreel, Fox News, which ran from 1919 into 1930. The other is the original sound newsreel, Fox Movietone News, which ran from 1927 through 1963. The majority of films in the collection are outtakes that were not used by the Fox corporation as part of a released newsreel. The collection does contain over 200 released newsreels from 1942 to 1944.

Dates

  • 1919-1944

Creator

Access

This collection is currently being processed. Portions of this collection may be viewed online; the remainder may be accessed upon request.

Additional information about the items in this collection can be found in the MIRC Reference Catalog. Holdings are prefixed MVTN.

For more about this collection, contact curator Dr. Greg Wilsbacher at GREGW@mailbox.sc.edu.

Copyright and Use

Copyright University of South Carolina. All rights reserved.

Extent

11,000,000 feet of film

1920 Linear Feet (Acetate (safety) holdings.)

85 Linear Feet (Paper materials (encompasses dope sheets and card catalog).)

468 Linear Feet (Polyester (preservation) holdings.)

2048 Linear Feet (Nitrate holdings.)

Historical Note

Until broadcast television news came into its own in the 1950s, newsreels were the public’s only source for moving images of world events, and they remained an integral part of the movie-going experience until the 1960s. Newsreels (short programs ranging from 5 to 10 minutes) offered the American movie-going audience a glimpse of the important political, cultural and natural events shaping the world around them. In short, newsreels became one of the most significant visual filters through which Americans saw their place in the world, and in turn, they served as a mirror for the aspirations of a nation growing into its own century.

At its height, Fox News (dubbed Fox Movietone News with the advent of sound technology) was perhaps the largest newsreel organization in the world. The Fox Film Corporation produced its first Fox News program in August 1919. By 1922, over 1,000 cameramen worked around the world for Fox News, sending back their camera negative film to the Fox editorial staff in New York.

In 1927, Fox News created the Movietone brand name after purchasing the patent for a synchronized optical sound-on-film system developed by Theodore Case, which solved the long-standing problems with early experiments to record and project sound in synchronization with moving images. While other studios continued to experiment with sound-film synchronization systems as part of their feature film production, Fox opted to record actuality and topical news with its revolutionary new system. Footage of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s departure for Paris on May 20, 1927 was one of Movietone’s first commercial releases. On June 14 of the same year, films featuring President Coolidge receiving Lindbergh at the White House and a speech by Benito Mussolini proved so popular that Fox Movietone News began systematic production of the first sound newsreel series. After that, the “natural sound” Movietone News became standard fare in theaters.

By 1929, Movietone’s cameramen and representatives were operating in thirty international locations, and its newsreels were available in twenty-two languages.

Newsreels would remain a staple of the theater-going experience for another 20 years. With thousands of cameramen working around the world submitting hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of feet of film back to Fox’s New York office each week, the Fox film library grew substantially. Today, the sum of all known Movietone News material is estimated to comprise nearly 4,000 newsreels, 55 million feet of shorts and outtakes, and over six hundred other theatrical short subjects—a total of 10,000 hours of footage (Greevey & Yeck, Our Movie Heritage, 1997).

Physical Location

Moving Image Research Collections. 707 Catawba St. Columbia, SC 29208.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation in 1980.

Digital Collections

"African Americans Seen Through the Eyes of the Newsreel Cameraman," a digital exhibition of selected Fox Movietone films, is available through USC Digital Collections: library.sc.edu/digital/collections/flmovietone.html.

"Fox Movietone News: The War Years," a digital collection of selected Fox Movietone films and paperwork, is available through USC Digital Collections: library.sc.edu/digital/collections/mvtnwarfilms.html.

Creator

Repository Details

Part of the Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) Repository

Contact:
707 Catawba Street
Columbia SC 29208
803-777-6841

Status
under_revision