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Lights, Camera, Action: UT Exhibit Spotlights East Tennesseans in Film

Beginning with a gift from the legendary film director Clarence Brown in 1973, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Libraries began assembling an impressive collection of screenplays, shooting scripts, movie posters and other items documenting the careers of East Tennesseans who have made their careers in film.

A selection of memorabilia is currently on display in the Elaine Altman Evans Exhibit Area on the first floor galleria of the John C. Hodges Library, 1015 Volunteer Blvd. The exhibit will remain on display through summer.

Among the featured items are a copy of director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino’s final draft script for Pulp Fiction (1994), Clarence Brown’s cane and mementoes from his worldwide travels, author Alex Haley’s manuscript for Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976), and a Mandinka drum Haley acquired while researching his African ancestry in Gambia.

The television miniseries Roots, based on Haley’s retelling of his family’s history, reached a record-breaking television audience in 1977 and sparked a nationwide obsession with genealogy. Materials from the Alex Haley Papers are on display in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the miniseries.

Also highlighted in the exhibit are Knoxville-born writer James Agee and actress Patricia Neal, a Knoxville High School graduate. Tarantino was born in Knoxville. Haley spent part of his childhood at his family home in West Tennessee but lived in Knoxville during the last years of his life. Brown grew up in Knoxville and graduated from UT.

The name Clarence Brown is well known to Knoxville theatergoers. The Clarence Brown Theatre opened on the UT campus in 1970 and was dedicated to the renowned filmmaker, whose generous gifts funded both the theater and the professional company. Brown’s name may be less familiar to modern moviegoers, but his directorial work includes many widely recognized classic films. He directed Greta Garbo in seven films including Anna Karenina in 1935 and Garbo’s first talkie, Anna Christie, in 1930.

Lights, Camera, Action: East Tennesseans in Film was curated by Jennifer Benedetto Beals, head of the libraries’ Special Collections, where the film memorabilia resides when not on public display.

The exhibit area on the first floor of the Hodges Library is accessible during library hours.

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