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The Ransom Center's film collections illuminate the creative process involved in making motion pictures, from the point of view not only of directors but also of screenwriters, producers, actors, and designers. Scripts, correspondence, legal documents, photographs, and designs, as well as film, video, and digital files, fill the archives of some of the most important and influential Hollywood artists, from the pre-studio era to the present day.

The foundation of the Ransom Center's film holdings is the archive of producer David O. Selznick. Many of Selznick's most notable productions are documented in great detail, including A Star is Born (1937), Gone With The Wind (1939), Rebecca (1940), Spellbound (1945), and Duel in the Sun (1946). Gloria Swanson's archive highlights her work with such filmmakers as Cecil B. DeMille, Erich von Stroheim, and Billy Wilder. The archive of Ernest Lehman, Hollywood's top screenwriter for many years, documents his work on such films as North by Northwest (1959), The Sound of Music (1965), and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Robert De Niro donated his archive to the Center in 2006, reflecting his full career of filmmaking. Matthew Weiner donated the archive of the Mad Men television series in the hopes that this material would, in his own words, "provide both inspiration and edification" to students and scholars.

Many of the works represented in the collections are landmarks of our culture. Understanding the contributions of the artists who created these works and the dynamic nature of their collaborations deepens and enriches our appreciation of film as an art form, as entertainment, and as a reflection of our culture and ourselves.