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Boris Kaufman papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 562
Scope and Contents

The Boris Kaufman Papers contain professional papers, correspondence, writings, and other material documenting the life and work of cinematographer Boris Kaufman, as well as film production and cinematographic practice during the middle decades of the 20th century. Kaufman, educated and trained in Paris before moving to the United States in the early 1940s, is well known for his collaborations with the filmmakers Jean Vigo, Elia Kazan, and Sidney Lumet, among others, and was awarded an Academy Award for his work on Kazan's On the Waterfront (1954) in the category of black-and-white cinematography. The collection spans the years 1836 to 2004, with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1930s through 1970s.

The collection is housed in 26 boxes and organized into four series: Professional Papers, Correspondence, Writings, and Other Material. Boxes 21-23 contain Oversize material and boxes 24-26 contain Restricted Fragile Papers.

Series I, Professional Papers , housed in boxes 1-11, contains material relating to films on which Kaufman worked, including clippings, printed ephemera, contracts, correspondence, photographs, cut film and negatives, shooting scripts, manuscript notes, and crew and staff lists. Papers are arranged alphabetically first by title of film and then by type of material. Materials date from Les Halles Centrales (1927) to Tell Me that You Love Me, Junie Moon (1969).

The Professional Papers series features hundreds of stills and publicity (studio) photographs for several films, including L'Atalante, Baby Doll, The Fugitive Kind, On the Waterfront, That Kind of Woman, and Twelve Angry Men. There are photographs of Kaufman, directors, including Elia Kazan and Sidney Lumet, and actors and actresses, including Jean Daste, Dita Parlo, Marlon Brando, Sophia Loren, Henry Fonda, Eli Wallach, and Karl Malden, as well as other cast and crew members.

In addition to the photographs, shooting scripts for numerous films, including Baby Doll, The Brotherhood, The Fugitive Kind, Long Day's Journey into Night, On the Waterfront, and Splendor in the Grass are annotated with manuscript notes and diagrams on how to shoot particular scenes.

A small amount of correspondence has been maintained in the professional files. There are letters regarding production and fan mail. Cross-references have been provided to established headings in the Correspondence series when appropriate. The clippings and printed ephemera consist chiefly of reviews and publicity for films.

Series II, Correspondence , housed in boxes 12-15, is organized into four subseries: Boris Kaufman Correspondence, Helen Kaufman Correspondence, André Kaufman Correspondence, and Third Party Correspondence.

The Boris Kaufman Correspondence consists chiefly of single and small groups of incoming letters from production companies, colleagues in the film industry, film scholars, writers, and family; there are some carbons and holograph drafts of outgoing letters. Correspondents include: Claude Aveline, Dian Dincin Buchman, Jules Dassin, Abel Gance, Elia Kazan, Stanley Kubrick, Jean Lods, Sidney Lumet, Pierre Merle, Jean Painlevé, Otto Preminger, Claude Renoir, Jean Renoir, and Jean and Luce Vigo. Letters from filmmakers show the respect Kaufman enjoyed among professional members of the film community. Letters are chiefly in English and French, with some in Russian.

Helen Kaufman Correspondence, housed in box 14, consists of letters to Helen Kaufman, Boris Kaufman's wife. There are letters from family members, friends, and colleagues of her husband, including condolence letters following his death. Most letters date from 1980 to 1982. Noteworthy correspondents include Elia Kazan and Sidney Lumet. Letters are chiefly in English and French, with some in Russian.

André Kaufman Correspondence, housed in box 15, contains letters to André Kaufman, Boris and Helen's son. There are letters dating from 1983 to 2004 from Dian Dincin Buchman, Elia Kazan, John Mackay, and others.

The small group of Third Party Correspondence, housed in box 15, consists of all loose third party correspondence. The bulk of these letters probably came to Kaufman as enclosures and, over time, were separated from the original letters. The subseries includes introduction letters on Kaufman's behalf, all dating February 10, 1942, from Benedict Gimbel to broadcasting companies.

Series III, Writings , housed in box 16, is organized into two subseries: Writings of Boris Kaufman and Writings of Others.

Kaufman's writings include corrected drafts and printed versions for several articles and lectures. Among the writings are corrected holograph and typescript drafts, galley proofs, and a reprint for a 1959 article on cinematography entitled "Film Making as an Art." There are also reports submitted [to the Princeton Film Center?] on three photographic devices or techniques (the pictoscope, pictograph, and magigraph) and reflections on working with the filmmakers Jean Vigo and Elia Kazan.

The Writings of Others subseries includes articles relating to Kaufman or colleagues and articles written by Kaufman family members and colleagues. There is a biographical essay on Kaufman by Cecile Starr and interviews with Kaufman by Donald Crafton, Simon Kagan, and Jonas Mekas. In addition, there is a printed interview with Kaufman's brother Mikhail discussing production of The Man with a Movie Camera (1929), and a printed article, "The Factory of Facts and Other Writings," by his brother Dziga Vertov.

Series IV, Other Material , housed in boxes 17-20, is organized into five subseries: Artwork, Helen Kaufman Papers, Photographs, Printed Ephemera, and Other. The papers include manuscript notes, in French and Russian, dating from the Jean Vigo years.

Language of Materials

Chiefly in English; some materials in French and Russian.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 20-21, 24-25 and 26 (Record album storage): Restricted fragile material. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Boris Kaufman Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Boris Kaufman Papers were acquired through purchase from André Kaufman on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2005.

14.48 Linear Feet ((25 boxes) + 1 broadside, 1 record album storage)
Related Names
Kaufman, Boris
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Language of Materials
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