LOS ANGELES, JULY 24 — The Writers Guild Foundation, in conjunction with the California Preservation Program’s CALIFORNIA LIGHT AND SOUND preservation effort, has released rare recordings of the writers of COOL HAND LUKE and television’s M*A*S*H onto the Internet Archive, granting access to scholars and fans worldwide for the first time.
Also released were audio interviews with Phillip Dunne, a leading organizer of what would become the Writers Guild of America, and Jean Rouverol, a writer whose career was nearly ruined by the Hollywood Blacklist.
Prior to their inclusion on the Internet Archive – itself a nonprofit organization intended to create an “internet library” – the interviews were stored on audiocassettes, an archivally unstable medium. Access to the cassettes was limited as well.
“The single audiocassette was the master and the access copy,” said Writers Guild Foundation Archivist Joanne Lammers, “meaning every time it was played, we ran the risk of losing it forever. Now, thanks to the California Preservation Program and the Internet Archive, those interviews are not only preserved on another medium, they’re made available to anyone with an internet connection. It’s tremendously satisfying.”
CPP, which covered the costs of the transfer from audiocassette to digital file, works to digitize and increase access to audiovisual artifacts that relate to the state’s heritage as part of its California Audiovisual Preservation Project. Lammers asked that the interviews be included because of their important connection to California history and culture.
“Gelbart was the creator and producer of M*A*S*H, which in addition to being excellent television, was filmed largely in Malibu Creek State Park, and is still a destination for hikers and television history buffs. Likewise, COOL HAND LUKE was shot mostly on a Stockton set, and its writer, Frank Pierson, was president of both the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – both organizations integral to the economic history and development of southern California.”
Dunne was a co-founder of the Screen Writers Guild, which would develop into the WGA. He also co- founded the Committee For The First Amendment, which fought the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Hollywood Blacklist. Rouverol and her family self-exiled to Mexico, fearing prison sentences as a result of HUAC and the Blacklist.
The WGF will continue to work with CPP in the months to come to make more such interviews available. Currently, the files can be accessed at archive.org/details/writersguildfoundation.