Pressbooks Collection

Starring and Produced by Mary Pickford

World War II on Film

Engaging with Society through Cinema

What's in a pressbook?

Imagine yourself an executive at United Artists in the late 1930s or early 1940s. A significant film has just been produced for your corporation, and it’s now time to reap the box office returns for all the hard work and financial investment put into the production. UA already has its regular network of theaters set up (via block-booking) to distribute the film. However, like most big-budget films of the day, this film is going to be distributed under a percentage-of-profit structure—that is, your profits are directly affected by box-office receipts. You need to make sure that theaters are actually drawing people in to see this new film. Nationwide promotional efforts probably aren’t a sufficient solution; these are still difficult given the variance in dates and locations of film runs. So what strategy can you implement in order cooperate with exhibitors to ensure that everyone profits upon the film’s release? Why, pressbooks, of course!

Pressbooks reveal the multifaceted approaches used by film distributors to work with exhibitors to maximize the reach and profit of their films. Early on, pressbooks tended to be short and focused on pre-written columns that theaters could submit to their local newspapers to promote the film; later, they ballooned in size, were printed (at least partially) in splashy colors, and included advertising images, posters, heralds, ideas for promotional events, and so forth. Before the advent of YouTube trailers or even saturation booking (the practice whereby most theaters across the nation show films during their first run and, thus, can take advantage of national advertising campaigns), the advertising schemes in these pressbooks promoted cooperation with exhibitors and were designed to maximize box-office profits to the benefit of both distributor and exhibitor.

The collection of pressbooks digitized here includes a wide swath of UA films from the 1920s-1950s. This is by no means an exhaustive collection, but it samples some of the most significant films, directors, and stars the distributor worked with during the “classical Hollywood” era. These include Shirley Temple, Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, Barbara Stanwyck, Fredric March, Alec Guinness, and of course, the founders of United Artists: Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith. Some of these pressbooks are also disconcerting glimpses of our film past and our social ignorance on issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and beyond. But whether providing further context to these social ills or simply advising exhibitors on how to run coloring contests for young filmgoers, these pressbooks offer insights into the intersection of distribution and exhibition in the age of the studio system alongside infinite entertainment. -- Connor Perkins, 2020.

Thank you to the Mary Pickford Foundation and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research for making the scanning of these pressbooks possible. These pressbooks and hundreds more have been preserved in the collection, United Artists Corporation: Series 5.4 United Artists Pressbooks, at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research.

United Artists Pressbooks: Sortable by Title, Director, and Year

Title Director Year
A Night in CasablancaMayo, Archie1946
A Thousand ClownsCoe, Fred1965
Abraham LincolnGriffith, D. W.1930
AmericaGriffith, D. W.1924
An Innocent AffairBacon, Lloyd1948
ArrowsmithFord, John1931
The Black PirateParker, Albert1926
BlockadeDieterle, William1938
Body and SoulRossen, Robert1947
Born to Be BadSherman, Lowell1934
Broken BlossomsGriffith, D. W.1919
ChampionRobson, Mark1949
City LightsChaplin, Charlie1931
The Life and Death of Colonel BlimpPowell, Michael and Emeric Pressburger1945
Cop HaterBerke, William1958
CoquetteTaylor, Sam1929
CorsairWest, Roland1931
DisraeliKolker, Henry1921
Du Barry, Woman of PassionTaylor, Sam1930
Emperor JonesMurphy, Dudley1933
Foreign CorrespondentHitchcock, Alfred1940
Green for DangerGilliat, Sidney1946
Hallelujah, I'm a BumMilestone, Lewis1933
Happy AnniversaryMiller, David1959
Hell's AngelsHughes, Howard1930
Home of the BraveRobson, Mark1949
How To Murder Your WifeQuine, Richard1965
How To Murder Your WifeQuine, Richard1965
I, AccuseGance, Abel1919
I Cover the WaterfrontCruze, James1933
I Met My Love AgainLogan, Joshua, Arthur Ripley, and George Cukor (uncredited)1938
I'll Be Seeing YouDieterle, William1944
IntermezzoRatoff, Gregory1939
It's in the Bag!Wallace, Richard1945
Kid MillionsDel Ruth, Roy1934
KikiTaylor, Sam1931
Kind Hearts and CoronetsHamer, Robert1949
King of the OlympicsLerner, Joseph1948
Lady of the PavementsGriffith, D. W.1929
Ladybug LadybugPerry, Frank1963
LuredSirk, Douglas1947
Mad WednesdaySturges, Preston1947
MartyMann, Delbert1955
Miss Annie RooneyMarin, Edwin L.1942
Modern TimesChaplin, Charlie1936
Monsieur VerdouxChaplin, Charlie1947
Moulin RougeLanfield, Sidney1934
Mr. Robinson CrusoeSutherland, A. Edward1932
My Best GirlTaylor, Sam1927
New York NightsMilestone, Lewis1929
No More WomenRogell, Albert S.1934
Nothing SacredWellman, William1937
Odds Against TomorrowWise, Robert1959
Of Mice and MenMilestone, Lewis1939
Olympic CavalcadeLerner, Joseph1948
Our TownWood, Sam1940
Prehistoric WomenTallas, Gregg C.1950
RafflesFitzmaurice, George1930
RainMilestone, Lewis1932
RamonaCarewe, Edwin1928
RamrodDeToth, Andre1947
SecretsBorzage, Frank1933
Since You Went AwayCromwell, John1944
Sleep, My LoveSirk, Douglas1948
Something WildCopland, Aaron1961
Son of Frankenstein and Bride of FrankensteinLee, Rowland V., and James Whale1939, 1935
SparrowsBeaudine, William1926
SpellboundHithcock, Alfred1945
Steamboat Bill, Jr.Reisner, Charles1928
Stella Dallas (1925)King, Henry1925
Stella Dallas (1937)Vidor, King1937
Story of GI JoeWellman, William1945
SudsDillon, John Francis1920
Taming of the ShrewTaylor, Sam1929
Teenage MillionaireDoheny, Lawrence1961
Tess of the Storm CountryRobertson, John S.1922
The Birth of a NationGriffith, D. W.1915
The BoweryWalsh, Raoul1933
The CircusChaplin, Charlie1928
The Count of Monte CristoLee, Rowland V.1934
The Devil DancerNiblo, Fred1927
The Devil to PayFitzmaurice, George1930
The DoveWest, Roland1927
The EagleBrown, Clarence1925
Four FeathersKorda, Zoltan1939
The Fugitive KindLumet, Sidney1960
The GauchoJones, F. Richard1927
The GeneralKeaton, Buster and Clyde Bruckman1926
The Gold RushChaplin, Charlie1925
The Goldwyn FolliesMarshall, George1938
The Great DictatorChaplin, Charlie1940
The House of RothschildWerker, Alfred L.1934
The Iron MaskDwan, Allan1929
The Jackie Robinson StoryGreen, Alfred E.1950
The Joe Louis StoryGordon, Robert1953
The Last of the MohicansSeitz, George B.1936
The Last MileKoch, Howard W.1959
The Manchurian CandidateFrankenheimer, John1962
The Mark of ZorroNiblo, Fred1920
The Mighty BarnumLang, Walter1934
The Miracle WorkerPenn, Arthur1962
The Night of LoveFitzmaurice, George1927
The NutReed, Theodore1921
The Other LoveDeToth, Andre1947
The Private Life of Don JuanKorda, Alexander1934
The Private Life of Henry VIIIKorda, Alexander1933
The PusherMilford, Gene1961
The SouthernerRenoir, Jean1945
The StruggleGriffith, D.W.1931
The ThiefRouse, Russell1952
The Thief of BagdadWalsh, Raoul1924
The WesternerWyler, William1940
The World of Henry OrientHill, George Roy1964
Tillie's Punctured RomanceSennett, Mack1914
To Be or Not To BeLubitsch, Ernst1942
Tomorrow, the World!Fenton, Leslie1944
Topper ReturnsDel Ruth, Roy1941
TumbleweedsBaggot, King1925
Wuthering HeightsWyler, William1939

Warner Bros. Pressbooks: Sortable by Title, Director, and Year

Title Director Year
Accidents Will HappenClemens, William1938
Across the PacificHuston, John1942
Action in the North AtlanticBacon, Lloyd1944
Adventure in IraqLedermen, D. Ross1943
Adventures of Don JuanSherman, Vincent1948
Air ForceHawks, Howard1943
Alcatraz IslandMcGann, William1937
Alexander HamiltonAdolfi, John1931
Alias the DoctorCurtiz, Michael1932
Alibi IkeEnright, Ray1935
All This and Heaven TooLitvak, Anatole1940
Always Leave Them LaughingDel Ruth, Roy1949
Always Togetherde Cordova, Frederick1947
Always a BrideSmith, Noel1940
Always in My HeartGraham, Jo1942
An Angel from TexasEnright, Ray1940
Angels with Dirty FacesCurtiz, Michael1938
Another DawnDieterle, William1937
Anthony AdverseLeRoy, Mervyn1936
April ShowersKern, James V.1948
April in ParisButler, David1952
Arsenic and Old LaceCapra, Frank1944
As the Earth TurnsGreen, Alfred E.1934
BabbittKeighley, William1934
Back PaySeiter, William A.1930
Back in CirculationEnright, Ray1937
Background to DangerWalsh, Raoul1943
Bad Men of MissouriEnright, Ray1941
Beauty and the BossDel Ruth, Roy1932
BedsideFlorey, Robert1934
Beloved BratLubin, Arthur1938
Between Two WorldsBlatt, Edward A.1944
Beyond the ForestVidor, King1949
Big Business GirlSeiter, William A.1931
Big City BluesLeRoy, Mervyn1932
Big Hearted HerbertKeighley, William1934
Black FuryCurtiz, Michael1935
Black LegionMayo, Archie1937
Blazing SixesSmith, Noel1937
Blessed EventDel Ruth, Roy1932
Blonde CrazyDel Ruth, Roy1931
Blondes at WorkMcDonald, Frank1938
Blondie JohnsonEnright, Ray1933
Blues in the NightLitvak, Anatole1941
BordertownMayo, Archie1935
Born for TroubleEason, B. Reese1942
Boulder DamMcDonald, Frank1936
Boy Meets GirlBacon, Lloyd1938
Brides Are Like ThatMcGann, William1936
Bright LightsCurtiz, Michael1931
Bright Lights 1935Berkeley, Busby1935
British AgentCurtiz, Michael1934
British IntelligenceMorse, Terry1940
Broad MindedLeRoy, Mervyn1931
Broadway GondolierBacon, Lloyd1935
Broadway HostessMcDonald, Frank1931
Broadway MusketeersFarrow, John1938
Brother OrchidBacon, Lloyd1940
Brother RatKeighley, William1938
Brother Rat and a BabyEnright, Ray1940
Bullet ScarsLederman, D. Ross1942
Bullets or BallotsKeighley, William1936
Bureau of Missing PersonsDel Ruth, Roy1933
Busses RoarLederman, D. Ross1942
Cabin in the CottonCurtiz, Michael1932
Cain and MabelBacon, Lloyd1936
California MailSmith, Noel1936
Call It a DayMayo, Archie1937
Calling All HusbandsSmith, Noel1940
Calling Philo VanceClemens, William1940
Captain BloodCurtiz, Michael1935
Captain ThunderCrosland, Alan1930
CapturedDel Ruth, Roy1933
CasablancaCurtiz, Michael1942
The Adventures of Jane ArdenMorse, Terry O.1939
The Adventures of Mark TwainRapper, Irving1944
The Adventures of Robin HoodCurtiz, Michael and William Keighley1938
The Adventurous BlondeMcDonald, Frank1937
The Amazing Dr. ClitterhouseLitvak, Anatole1938
The Angels Wash Their FacesEnright, Ray1939
The BargainMilton, Robert1931
The Beast with Five FingersFlorey, Robert1946
The Big Noise McDonald, Frank1936
The Big Shakedown Dillon, John Francis1934
The Big ShotSeiler, Lewis1942
The Big SleepHawks, Howard1946
The Big StampedeWright, Tenny1932
The Case of the Black CatMcGann, William1936
The Case of the Black ParrotSmith, Noel1941
The Case of the Curious BrideCurtiz, Michael1935
The Case of the Howling DogCrosland, Alan1934