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Hearts and Minds Collection, 1970-1974
Quantity2 cartons, 1 video tape
The Hearts and Minds collection was donated to the Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences and the Archives and special Collections Department of the Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston by director Peter Davis on September 13, 2004. A copy of the film was added to the collection for added reference in September of 2005.
The documentary Hearts and Minds is of great importance to the cultural history of the Vietnam War. This film does not merely feature the factual opinions of important political figures of the time: it is an important cultural examination of the formation and internalization of political beliefs.
In 1974, Hearts and Minds won the Academy Award for best documentary film. This controversial film, along with producer Bert Schneider’s decision to read a telegram from the Viet Cong in his acceptance speech, caused a commotion at the award ceremony. The granting of such a prestigious award to a film that openly criticized the actions of the American government angered two of the Oscars’ conservative presenters, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. The two immediately drafted a disclaimer which Sinatra presented to the audience. “We are not responsible for any political references made on the program, and we are sorry that they had to take place this evening.” The disclaimer angered those who supported the film with actress and co-host Shirley MacLaine stating, “I’m a member of the academy and you didn’t ask me.”
The research and interviews for the project are expansive. Director Peter Davis interviewed not only influential political figures of the period like Clark Clifford, Tony Russo, Walt Whitman Rostow, Daniel Ellsberg, General Nguyen Huu Co, and General William Westmoreland, but he sought out opinions of soldiers, veterans, civilians and Vietnamese.
Scope and Content
This collection documents the creation of the Hearts and Minds documentary. Within the two cartons are the transcripts of the interviews collected by Peter Davis, some with notes written in the margins. The collection also includes research done by the producers including notes on other Vietnam War films and on collections of clips from existing footage for use in Hearts and Minds.
The collection was copied onto archival paper due to the fragile and unstable condition of the originals.
I. The copied transcripts of Peter Davis’s interviews in this series form the bulk of the collection. Parts of some of these interviews appear in the final film, some of the interviews do not appear in the film at all. Hand-written director/producer notes can be seen on many of the transcripts. The series is in alphabetical order by interviewee’s name.
II. This series consists of research for the film, cut transcripts, film transcripts, and reel listings. It includes notes on other films documenting the Vietnam War. It also contains transcripts of speeches and television appearances by important political figures as Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. Stock footage lists and records are also a part of this series. In these folders are references to previously existing footage that had significance for the film.