Guide to the David Bradley (1920-1997) Papers

Collection Title: David Bradley (1920-1997) Papers
Dates: 1936-1980
Identification: 55/16
Creator: Bradley, David, 1920-1997
Extent: 2 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The David Bradley Papers, filling two boxes, span the period 1936 to 1980. The papers include newspaper and magazine clippings, posters, press material, scripts, and programs illuminating Bradley's career as a filmmaker.
Acquisition Information: David Bradley donated these papers to the Northwestern University Archives on August 4, 1986 (Accession #86-137).
Processing Information: Lauren Bufferd; November, 1986.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

David Shedd Bradley was born in Evanston, Illinois on April 6, 1920, the son of Addison Ballard and Katherine Shedd Bradley. A member of Chicago's prominent Shedd family, Bradley earned his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University. He went on to direct films for MGM as well as teach at UCLA. Bradley died in 1997.

Bradley attended the Todd School from 1935 to 1937 and Lake Forest Academy during 1937-1940. At Lake Forest Bradley made one of his earlier films, “Preps in Action,” an account of a day in the life of an average student. His first experience with film came through his use of his family's Winnetka basement as a movie theatre for neighborhood friends. Bradley had turned his hand to filmmaking by the mid-1930s. Preceding “Preps in Action” was a 16 millimeter short of “Treasure Island” (1937). Other films from the period include “Doctor X” (1938), “Emperor Jones” (1938), and an adaptation of The Christmas Carol, titled “Marley's Ghost” (1939). Bradley spent a year at the Goodman Memorial Theatre Drama Department of the Art Institute of Chicago and cast actors he met there in full-length film versions of “Oliver Twist” (1940), “Peer Gynt” (1941), and the Saki story, “Sredni Vashtar” (1943).

In September 1941, Bradley enrolled in the School of Speech of Northwestern University where he continued to pursue his interests in film and acting. He was accepted also into the Northwestern University Radio Playshop. In 1942 military service interrupted Bradley's formal education. Following three years in the film section of the Signal Corps, he returned to Northwestern where he completed film versions of “Macbeth” (1946) and “Julius Caesar” (1950). The latter tied for first place at the Locarno Film Festival and won much international acclaim. One of the first 16 millimeter films to be booked into theatres on a nationwide scale, “Julius Caesar” attracted the attention of Dore Schary, the M.G.M. studio chief. After graduating from Northwestern in June 1950, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech, Bradley went to Hollywood to work for M.G.M.

Bradley's first assignment at M.G.M. was to assist in coaching pre-production rehearsals for first-time director Robert Pirosh's “Go For Broke.” After two years of interning, Bradley was allowed to direct his own film, “Talk About a Stranger” (1952). At the age of 32 Bradley was then the youngest director at M.G.M.

In the early 1950s, with Gerry Sherman, Bradley formed Oceanic Productions Inc. Their first project was to be a filmed version of Paul Gauguin's Tahitian journal “Noa-Noa.” James Agee wrote the screenplay and Emile Gauguin was hired as a technical assistant. This project was not completed. Bradley left M.G.M. in the mid-1950s and made three more films: “Dragstrip Riot” (1958, American International), “Twelve To The Moon” (1960, Columbia Pictures), and “Madmen of Mandoras” (1964, Crown International).

More recently, as an adjunct to producing and directing and drawing upon his extraordinary collection of rare films and extensive knowledge of the field, Bradley has taught courses in film aesthetics and history at the University of California at Los Angeles and at Santa Monica College.

Scope and Content

The David Bradley Papers, filling two boxes, span the period 1936 to 1980. The papers include newspaper and magazine clippings, posters, press material, scripts, and programs illuminating Bradley's career as a filmmaker. The papers are arranged in two categories: biographical materials and materials relating to Bradley's films.

The biographical materials, largely clippings, document broad aspects of Bradley's career. Arranged chronologically within two folders, the biographical materials relate most strongly to Bradley's early years at M.G.M. and his later career as an independent filmmaker in Hollywood.

Materials relating to Bradley's films form the bulk of the collection; they include primarily clippings but also press and publicity materials, programs, and full-color posters. Materials are arranged in folders alphabetically according to film title and thereafter according to format, i.e., clippings, programs, etc. When dated, materials within folders are arranged chronologically. “Julius Caesar” and “Macbeth” are the most strongly represented of Bradley's films. Not surprisingly, they received the most critical acclaim. They were reviewed by local, national, and international press and shown at several film festivals in the United States and abroad.

One folder of articles authored by Bradley and published in a variety of film magazines is included in the collection. Most of the articles reflect generally Bradley's career as a filmmaker while several focus on his work on a single film. A folder of course syllabi pertaining to Bradley's teaching at Santa Monica College is also included. Both folders are filed after the biographical materials.

Arrangement of Materials

The papers are arranged in two categories: biographical materials and materials relating to Bradley's films.


Personal Name

Bradley, David, 1920-1997


Motion picture producers and directors--United States

Motion pictures--Study and teaching

Container List / Contents

    • Bugles Sound No ReveilleBox 1, Folder 5
    • Doctor X and Emperor JonesBox 1, Folder 6
    • Dragstrip Riot: ClippingsBox 1, Folder 7
    • Dragstrip Riot: PosterBox 1, Folder 8
    • Julius Caesar: Clippings, n.d.Box 1, Folder 9
    • Julius Caesar: Clippings, 1949-1950Box 1, Folder 10
    • Julius Caesar: Clippings, 1951-1952Box 1, Folder 11
    • Julius Caesar: Clippings, Jan.-July 1953Box 1, Folder 12
    • Julius Caesar: Clippings, Aug.-Dec. 1953Box 1, Folder 13
    • Julius Caesar: Clippings, 1954-1978Box 1, Folder 14
    • Julius Caesar: Press MaterialBox 1, Folder 15
    • Julius Caesar: Programs, 1950-1978, n.d.Box 1, Folder 16
    • Julius Caesar: Works AboutBox 1, Folder 17
    • Macbeth: Clippings, 1945-1946Box 1, Folder 18
    • Macbeth: Clippings, 1947-1950Box 2, Folder 1
    • Macbeth: ProgramsBox 2, Folder 2
    • Macbeth: ScriptBox 2, Folder 3
    • Madmen of Mandoras: ClippingsBox 2, Folder 4
    • Madmen of Mandoras: PosterBox 2, Folder 5
    • Madmen of Mandoras: Press MaterialBox 2, Folder 6
    • Marley's GhostBox 2, Folder 7
    • Noa-NoaBox 2, Folder 8
    • Oliver Twist: Clippings, 1940-1942Box 2, Folder 9
    • Oliver Twist: InvitationsBox 2, Folder 10
    • Oliver Twist: ProgramsBox 2, Folder 11
    • Peer Gynt: Clippings, 1941-1978, n.d.Box 2, Folder 12
    • Peer Gynt: CorrespondenceBox 2, Folder 13
    • Peer Gynt: ProgramsBox 2, Folder 14
    • Preps In ActionBox 2, Folder 15
    • Sredni VashtarBox 2, Folder 16
    • Talk About A Stranger: Clippings, 1951Box 2, Folder 17
    • Talk About A Stranger: Clippings, 1952Box 2, Folder 18
    • Talk About A Stranger: Press MaterialBox 2, Folder 19
    • Treasure IslandBox 2, Folder 20
    • Twelve To The Moon: ClippingsBox 2, Folder 21
    • Twelve To The Moon: Press MaterialBox 2, Folder 22
    • Twelve To The Moon: PosterBox 2, Folder 23
  • Biographical Materials, 1936-1952Box 1, Folder 1
  • Biographical Materials, 1953-1979Box 1, Folder 2
  • Articles Written by David BradleyBox 1, Folder 3
  • Course Syllabi: Santa Monica CollegeBox 1, Folder 4