Ph.D. University of California, Davis, 1979
M.A. University of California, Davis, 1975
B.A. University of California, Davis, 1972
Scott Simmon works at the intersection of film scholarship, archiving, and access – especially with the goal of expanding the canon of U.S. films that are taught and studied. To this end, his best known publications are three DVD-and-text anthologies, Treasures from American Film Archives, More Treasures from American Film Archives, 1894-1931, and Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1935, which together make available 148 films preserved by U.S. public archives. A new 10-hour, 40-film DVD set, Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938, was published in September 2011. Two restorations he supervised for the Library of Congress have also become key to the film-studies canon: Oscar Micheaux's Within Our Gates (1919; the earliest surviving film by an African American) and Lois Weber's birth-control and abortion drama Where Are My Children? (1916).
Scott Simmon obtained his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. here at UC Davis. As curator of film programs at the Library of Congress, he founded the Library's first cinema exhibition space. For the National Film Preservation Board , he co-authored a report on the state of American film preservation and helped formulate the national film preservation plan, submitted to Congress in 1994. For the National Film Preservation Foundation, he curated Treasures from American Film Archives (called by The New York Times "the best DVD set of the year" in 2000), More Treasures from American Film Archives (which makes available on DVD 50 films preserved by five major U.S. film archives: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive), and Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film (included in the "Top 10 DVDs of 2007" by The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time magazine). Simmon's writings include books on directors King Vidor and D.W. Griffith. His Invention of the Western Film won the 2003 Theatre Library Association Award, given for the year's "best English-language book about recorded performance."
New Publication Spotlight
Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938--a 10-hour, 40-film, 3-DVD box-set, with 136 page book. Published by the National Film Preservation Foundation, September 2011. Curated by Scott Simmon.
Before High Noon, Unforgiven, and True Grit, there was a wilder, wider West on film. Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938, celebrates the dynamic, gender-bending, ethnically diverse West that flourished in early movies but has never before been seen on video.
Treasures 5 presents the American West as it was recorded and imagined in the first decades of motion pictures. Among the 40 selections are Mantrap (1926), the wilderness comedy starring Clara Bow in her favorite role; W.S. Van Dyke’s legendary The Lady of the Dugout (1918), featuring outlaw-turned-actor Al Jennings; Salomy Jane (1914), with America’s first Latina screen celebrity Beatriz Michelena; Gregory La Cava’s sparkling Old West–reversal Womanhandled (1925); Sessue Hayakawa in the cross-cultural drama Last of the Line (1914); one-reelers with Tom Mix and Broncho Billy, Mabel Normand in The Tourists (1912), and dozens of other rarities. The movies are drawn from the collections of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Archives, UCLA Film & Television Archive, and the New Zealand Film Archive.
Treasures 5 showcases both narrative and nonfiction films.
In addition to early Westerns, actuality films abound:
travelogues from 10 Western states including Seeing Yosemite with David A. Curry and the Fred Harvey Company’s The Indian-detour;
Kodachrome home movies; newsreels about Native Americans; and
documentaries and industrial films about such Western subjects as cattle
ranching in Santa Monica, riding the rails along the Columbia River,
how vaqueros made horsehair ropes, the birth of the canned fruit
industry, and the beginning of the water wars. There are vivid
docudramas by crime-fighting lawmen: Bill Tilghman restaging his
capture of the Wild Bunch and a Texas sheriff reliving his fight against
ammunition smuggling on the Mexican border.
For full list of films, click here.A brochure can be downloaded here.
The Treasures 5 selections are accompanied by new music,
interactive screens with maps, audio commentary from 23 scholars and archivists, and an illustrated book by curator Scott Simmon. The set was designed by Jennifer
Grey. New music was created by music curator Martin Marks, featured
pianists Stephen Horne and Michael D. Mortilla, and composers Andrew
McPherson, Michael Miller, Brian Robison, Elena Ruehr, Charles Shadle,
Christine Southworth, and Evan Ziporyn.
For a full list of contributors--including UCD Professors Desirée Martín and Louis Warren-- click here.
A video preview of the set and excerpts can be viewed here.
Previous Publication Spotlight
More Treasures from American Film Archives: 50 Films, 1894-1931
by Scott Simmon
"In 2000, the National Film Preservation Foundation released Treasures from American Film Archives," a three-disc collection of rarities preserved by film archives from the Library of Congress to regional historical societies. The follow-up volume, More Treasures from American Film Archives, is even more impressive than the dazzling first effort. This collection of some 50 films from 1894 to 1931 covers the evolution of American film from peep show novelty to an art form of the highest sophistication..The collection's alternative soundtrack has illuminating commentary from 17 film scholars and preservationists and comes with a highly readable 200-page book by Scott Simmon of the University of California, Davis. For those who do not know silent film, More Treasures is a superb introduction to a world of unique beauty and expressivity; for committed cinephiles, it is simply nine and a half hours of ecstasy."
-Dave Kehr, The New York Times (September 7, 2004)
- Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938. National Film Preservation Foundation, 2011. 10-hour, 3-disc DVD set with 136-page book.
- Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 . National Film Preservation Foundation, 2007. 12-hour, 4-disc DVD set with 200-page book. (Click here to hear Scott talk about this set with the film critic Elvis Mitchell, or here to view samples of the films alongside an ABC News story.)
- More Treasures from American Film Archives: 50 Films, 1894-1931 . National Film Preservation Foundation , 2004. 10-hour, 3-disc DVD set with 132-page book.
- Treasures from American Film Archives: 50 Preserved Films, 1893-1985 . National Film Preservation Foundation , 2000. 11-hour, 4-disc DVD set with 200-page book. (To watch extended excerpts from the films on all three sets, follow this link to the National Film Preservation Foundation's web site, then click on their "DVD collections" tab.)
- The Library of Congress Video Collection. Smithsonian Institution. 1994. 10-hour videotape set with brochures. Reissued on DVD as Origins of Film, 2001.
U.S. Government-Issued Books:
- Redefining Film Preservation: A National Plan. (co-author). Library of Congress, 1994. (Available online.)
- Film Preservation 1993: A Study of the Current State of American Film Preservation. (co-author). Library of Congress, 1993. 4 volumes. The report, the Los Angeles hearing, and the Washington D.C. hearing are available through these links.
University Press Books:
- The Invention of the Western Film: A Cultural History of the Genre's First Half-Century. Cambridge University Press, 2003 .
- The Films of D.W. Griffith. Cambridge University Press, 1993.
- King Vidor, American. (Co-author: Raymond Durgnat). University of California Press, 1988.
Education & Interests:
- Ph.D. (UC Davis); Film Studies, American Culture, 20th-century American Literature