Gordon Knox Film Collection
About the Collection
The Gordon Knox Film Collections contains over 100 films created by Texas-born filmmaker Gordon Knox (1906 – 1992) or Mr. Knox’s production company, The Princeton Film Center. The collection contains short and feature-length documentaries produced between 1937 and 1964 for the United States Armed Forces, state and federal government agencies, non-profit organizations and private sector clients. Currently, 67 films in the Gordon Knox collection are available through the UNT Digital Library.
A complete list of film holdings is available through the UNT Library Catalog.
About Gordon Knox
Gordon Knox (May 10, 1906 - March 5, 1992) was born in Greenville, Texas. He spent a great deal of his growing up years in Kansas City, Missouri and attended the University of Missouri.
Mr. Knox began his motion picture career with Warner Brothers Pictures. He was a regional sales representative for the company in the Kansas-Missouri region. He remained with Warner Brothers for two years when he had an opportunity to join Walter Wanger Productions in Hollywood as an assistant to Mr. Wanger. The Wanger Company, producers of high-budget features, was a small organization in terms of staff, which gave Mr. Knox the chance to work with skilled people active in every phase of major film production. This invaluable experience was equivalent to a thorough schooling in all aspects of film production.
In 1940, at the beginning of World War II, Mr. Knox was offered a producer’s post in New York City with American Film Center in conjunction with the U. S. State Department. As a producer/director, Knox had complete production responsibility for numerous films. In 1941 in New Mexico, he and his crew, including his wife, Nancy Corbusier Knox, produced the film Son of the Conquistadors for the Coordinator of the Inter-American Affairs (CIAA), headed by former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. The film has also been referred to as Sons of the Conquistadores. The film shows the common bond between the people of Spanish ancestry in the United States and those in the Latin-American republics of the western hemisphere. In 1944 Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer purchased the film and re-edited it in 35-mm with a new musical score and renamed it Somewhere in America for distribution to theaters.
In 1941 Mr. Knox formed the Princeton Film Center (PFC) in Princeton, New Jersey with his office in the sunroom of his house. The company made many films during the war, including Know Your Enemy – Japan for the Institute of Pacific Relations; An Army of Specialists and The Army Medical Corps for the CIAA; University Town (including Professor Albert Einstein) for the CIAA; and Fortress in the Sky for Boeing Aircraft. In addition, PFC distributed films for the Office of War Information and the CIAA, including Cradle of Victory, PBY Record Breakers, and Loaded for War, as well as many other educational and informational films.
Growing rapidly, in 1943 the Film Center settled in a larger house in Princeton Township with room for its expanding production and distribution services. After the war the PFC produced a wide array of documentary films for the government and private sponsorship.
Among the films were Men Bet Their Lives on It, depicting Packard’s war role as a producer of precision built engines for aircraft and marine use; This is Macy’s, an orientation film for the department store’s new employees; Watson Wakes Up, produced for the Savings Bank Association of the State of New York promoting the values of saving money; The Phantom, a McDonnell Aircraft Corporation film about its new jet-propelled aircraft; and Parkways of Progress, produced for the New Jersey Highway Department.
In 1948 the PFC began an ambitious project in Venezuela producing a series of eight films on life in the country entitled “Venezuela on the March.” The Creole Petroleum Company and other American and British petroleum companies financed the project. A crew was sent to Venezuela. When on remote location, the crew lived in a custom-built Flexible bus with accommodations for nine, including a galley, shower, two lavatories, refrigerator, air-conditioning and its own power plant and water purifier. In addition, the entourage included a Western Electric sound truck, a Jeep towing a mobile generator, a lighting and camera truck and a passenger station wagon.
In 1948 the Film Center moved again five miles from Princeton to a state-of-the-art facility, including its own theater, a five thousand square feet sound stage, an employees’ commissary and a wing dedicated to its film library and distribution department.
The Film Center continued to create several hundred short and feature-length documentaries for the United States Armed Forces, state and federal governments, non-profit organizations and the private sector. In addition, a series was produced for the Ford Foundation’s television program, Omnibus.
Among the films produced were The Cape Ann Story, (1946) depicting the revival of post-war ship building in the Cape Ann-Gloucester, Massachusetts area; The Blue Angels, (1958) produced for the Grumman Aircraft and the U. S. Navy, featuring the Navy’s demonstration flying team; Old Man in a Hurry, (1953) a Reader’s Digest story about Bion Shivley, the oldest driver to win the famed Hambletonian Stakes harness race with the horse he trained named Sharp Note; andBackfire, (1950) a Freedom Foundation award winner produced for the Atomic Energy Commission.
In the early 1960s, Mr. Knox formed a business relationship with Chet Huntley, co-anchor of the NBC Huntley-Brinkley Report, producing informational films of topical interest for television and supplementary distribution. Mr. Huntley was the narrator of The Laser, one of a series of the Princeton Report’s inter-disciplinary films dealing with the physical sciences. The film featured Dr. Charles Townes, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in laser development.
In 1954 Mr. Knox had a business relationship with Martin Jones and Henry Olmstead to produce a series for television on the U. S. Marines.
In 1968 Mr. Knox established a New Mexico Corporation, SKS Productions, with Jack Schaefer, the author of Shane and many other fictional works. SKS did not produce any films.
Films produced by Mr. Knox were recognized with many awards and citations from the National 16mm Victory Film Committee, Film Council of Greater Boston, New York Film Council, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Cleveland Film Assembly and others.
Biographic information provided by Mr. Toby Knox, February 11, 2009