New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Did You Know that Film Screenplays are Housed at Binghamton University Libraries?

By Laura Evans, Metadata and Cataloging Librarian, Binghamton University Libraries

Are you interested in B-movies and Hollywood classics? Have you ever wondered how the first draft screenplay of a film differs from the final version? Are you curious to see handwritten notes from well-known actors, photos from costume designers, and letters from film censors? If so, visit the Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections, which is now home to a large collection of original film screenplays.

The John McLaughlin Popular Culture Collection includes over 400 film screenplays, ranging from the silent films of the early 20th century through the cult classics of the 1960s and beyond. Many of the screenplays have unique features that make them of interest to researchers or film buffs. For example, Gene Kelley’s personal copy of the script of An American in Paris is heavily annotated, giving insight into the development of his character and his method as an actor. The screenplay for Affairs of a Vampire (released as Curse of the Undead) includes wardrobe plots and photographic negatives outlining the scene in which the vampire vanishes, leaving his empty clothes behind. For those interested in censorship circa 1948, the screenplay of Charlie Chan in Mexico (released as The Feathered Serpent) is accompanied by a letter from a film censor listing the requested changes.

Some of the screenplays in our collection have never been produced as motion pictures. Author Ray Bradbury wrote a screenplay based on his story The Dreamers, but even he faced rejection. If you’re curious about the reasons his screenplay was rejected, our copy of this rare work contains three letters between agents regarding the status of this script. Another example of an unproduced screenplay in our collection is The Astonishing 12 Inch People, which, despite its fascinating title, was never made into a film and therefore remains completely unknown.

If you’d like to browse the screenplays in our collection, they have all been fully described and added to the Binghamton University Libraries’ catalog. A search for the "John McLaughlin Collection of Movie Scripts" will bring up all of the film scripts that have been collocated under this local heading.

For more information or to plan a visit, please contact Special Collections. We are proud to be the home of such unique collections and excited to share them with you.