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COLLECTION Identifier: hfa00004

Dick Fontaine Paper and Film Outtakes Collection


Paper and film material of the British filmmaker Dick Fontaine. Material consists of papers surrounding all stages of production for films produced and directed by Fontaine from 1960-1990 and a large collection of 16mm motion picture and audio outtake material from his 1982 film I Heard it Through the Grapevine.


  • Creation: 1960-1990

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions on physical access to the paper portion of this collection. Collection is open for research. The Harvard Film Archive's manuscript collections and paper-based materials are accessed through the Houghton Library Reading Room. This material is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Researchers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine retrieval policies and times.

16mm motion picture film and 16mm magnetic audio from this collection - the outtakes described in this finding aid - are currently not available for research or viewing.

For access to select digitized audio outtakes from the production of I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, please contact the Collections Archivist at the Harvard Film Archive.

Use Restrictions

Reproduction and/or publication of materials is subject to copyright and requires written permission from a) the copyright owner, his/her heirs or assigns and from b) the Harvard Film Archive, owner of the original material.


63 boxes

The Dick Fontaine paper and outtakes collection contains research materials, production materials, and the films of Grapevine Productions, run by Dick Fontaine and Pat Hartley. The majority of materials are related to the research and production of the film I Heard it Through the Grapevine, a documentary in which writer James Baldwin revisits the deep south to reexamine the scenes of civil rights strife in the sixties. The film material includes 16 mm picture and sound outtakes from the film. The paper material includes pre-production materials related to the topic of the film, including research, notes, newspaper clippings, reports, and correspondence. It also includes production materials, including scripts, interview transcripts, shot lists, correspondence, contracts, clearances, as well as materials regarding the screening and reception of the film, including publicity materials, reviews, correspondence, and contracts.

The archive also contains a smaller portion of paper material for other works by Grapevine Productions, including the music documentaries Beat This: A Hip Hop History (1984), Art Blakey: The Jazz Messenger (1988), and the book project Earl: The Autobiography of DMX, which would later be published by Fontaine and Hartley's son, Smokey Fontaine. Also in the collection are scripts, notations, and budgets for Mrs. Chaney's Quilt, a film project started by Fontaine and Hartley around 1994 based on the life of Fannie Lee Chaney, mother of American civil rights worker James Earl Chaney who was murdered during Freedom Summer by members of the Ku Klux Klan near Philadelphia, Mississippi. The project was never completed, but audio cassettes and videotapes from interviews conducted with Fannie Lee Chaney and people close to the family exist in the Harvard Film Archive's collection. The Bremer Project refers to an unfinished film project based on the attempt by Arthur H. Bremer to assassinate Governor George Wallace in 1972. Tomorrow Brought Us Rain is a project for the stage based on the works of James Baldwin as arranged by Dick Fontaine.

Biographical / Historical

Dick Fontaine is an English documentary filmmaker, credited with introducing the techniques of Direct Cinema to British television. Fontaine was one of the founders of Granada Television's World in Action series and has produced, directed, and written more than forty films specializing in documentary, African-American music, and original drama subjects.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I. Paper Materials
  2. ___ Art Blakey: The Jazz Messenger
  3. ___ Beat This: A Hip Hop History
  4. ___Bremer Project
  5. ___ Earl: The Autobiography of DMX
  6. ___ Hustler's Convention
  7. ___ I Heard it Through the Grapevine
  8. ___ Mrs. Chaney's Quilt
  9. ___ Tomorrow Brought Us Rain
  10. ___Television Projects
  11. ___Miscellaneous
  12. II. Film and Photographic Materials

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dick Fontaine in 2006.

Separated Materials

A selection of film prints, video materials, and video copies of Fontaine's finished films are housed and described separately in the Harvard Film Archives' collection. These materials are searchable in Hollis, and can be accessed by contacting the Collections Archivist at the Harvard Film Archive.

Processing Information

Encoded by: Amy Sloper October, 2008

Dick Fontaine Paper and Film Outtakes Collection, 1960-1990: Finding Aid
Harvard Film Archive, Harvard University
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Film Archive, Harvard Library, Harvard University Repository

The Harvard Film Archive is one of the largest university-based motion picture collections in the United States, with a collection of 40,000 audio visual items, a growing number of manuscript collections, and nearly one million still photographs, posters, and other promotional materials from around the world and from almost every period in film history. The HFA's collection of paper materials, including the documentation of individual filmmakers as well as promotional materials such as posters, film stills, and ephemera are accessible to Harvard affiliates as well as to outside researchers.

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