Archive of photographs and letters belonging to British film producer John Palmer

N.p. N.p., 1940s-1956. Archive of material belonging to noted British film producer John Palmer. Included in the archive are leaves from a photo album with over 100 photographs of Palmer's friends and family members, a photograph of the St. James Street Post Office dated 1929 and mounted on stiff brown board, two leatherbound albums containing 101 vernacular photographs of Europe during the last few months of World War II, a typed letter signed from actor Bernard Miles to Palmer’s wife Molly, a manuscript letter from writer Alex Waugh to Palmer, a brief typed letter to Palmer from a columnist at "The Cinema Gazette," a manuscript letter from Palmer to his mother written on Adolf Hitler's personal letterhead, and a typed letter from a BBC executive returning a brief typescript about the war submitted for consideration by Palmer.

Several photographs with holograph ink annotations to the album pages and photograph versos, identifying subjects, although many are not captioned.

From the collection of noted British film producer John Palmer.

Palmer served as a member of the British armed forces film unit during the war. His experiences would serve him well afterwards, as he went on to find employment as the production manager and assistant producer for a number of prominent late-twentieth-century British directors, working on films such as "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), "Doctor Zhivago" (1965), "Battle of Britain" (1969), "The Day of the Jackal" (1973), "A Bridge Too Far" (1977), and "Five Days One Summer" (1982).

Palmer’s WWII albums largely document servicemen at rest and outdoors at work, including many photographs of what appear to be Palmer's fellow film unit members, with annotations identifying locations in Rhede, Rees, and Haldern, Germany. Several photographs also capture joyful moments in Enschede on VE Day, showing soldiers embracing and dancing with loved ones while a large orchestra parades in the street. A few photographs also show servicemen reuniting with family members, with annotations identifying the Hardick and Oskamp families.

The albums also feature many striking distance views of desolate German streets, including several shots of servicemen posing in front of bombed-out German buildings, and two photographs of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, which would become the headquarters of the British military occupation forces after the war. Also included are two photographs of war memorials in Berlin, including a massive portrait of Stalin on a median on the Unter-den-Linden and a Soviet victory memorial with portraits of the Allied heads of state on the Charlottenburger Chaussee.

Capping the albums is Palmer's letter to his mother on Hitler's personal letterhead, presumably seized by the British at the end of the war, humorously inscribed "Not Adolf."

Palmer's remaining correspondence collected in the archive represents the later years of his career, spent in the British film industry.

Bernard Miles’ letter, dated 1949, thanks Palmer’s wife Molly for her "little Maid," and expresses his hopes to meet again soon. Palmer worked as a production manager on the 1948 film "The Outsider," directed by Ray Boulting and starring Miles.

Dated seven years later, Waugh’s letter to Palmer primarily addresses the forthcoming film adaptation of his 1955 novel "Island in the Sun." Included with the letter is a small photograph of Palmer with actor Harry Belafonte on the set of the film. In his letter, Waugh offers profuse thanks for the kindly reception during his recent trip to Grenada, ostensibly in order to visit the set of the film. Waugh also playfully notes his belief that Palmer gave up his room for the duration of Waugh's stay, and expresses his gratitude and hopes that the two may meet again one day.

Altogether, the archive presents an interesting and thoughtful look into several decades in Palmer’s life, through his personal photography and correspondence, as well as documenting his family history.

Albums 10.5 x 8.25 inches. Generally Very Good, moderately edgeworn and frayed.

Photographs varying sizes. Generally Very Good plus, some lightly toned.

Letters varying sizes. Generally Very Good plus, with light edgewear, and one with faint foxing.


[Book #151950]