In donating the Warner Film Library to the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research in 1969, along with RKO and Monogram film libraries and UA corporate records, United Artists created a truly great resource for the study of American Film. Acquired by United Artists in 1957, during a period when the major studios sold off their films for use on Television, the Warner Library is by far the richest portion of the gift, containing eight hundred sound features, fifteen hundred short subjects, nineteen thousand still negatives, legal files, and press books, in addition to screenplays for the bulk of the Warner Brothers product from 1930 to 1950. For the purpose of this project, the company has granted the Center whatever publication rights it holds to the Warner Films. In so doing, UA has provided the Center another opportunity to advance the cause of Film scholarship.
Our goal in publishing these Warner Brothers screenplays is to explicate the art of screenwriting during the thirties and forties, the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood. In preparing a critical introduction and annotating the screenplay, the editor of each volume is asked to cover such topics as the development of the screenplay from its source to the final shooting script, differences between the final shooting script and the release print, production information, exploitation and critical reception of the film, its historical importance, its directorial style, and its position within the genre. He is also encouraged to go beyond these guidelines to incorporate supplemental information concerning the studio system of motion picture Production.
We could set such an ambitious goal because of the richness of the script files in the Warner Film Library. For many film titles, the files might contain the property (Novel, Play, Short Story, or original story idea), research materials, variant drafts of scripts (from story outline to treatment to shooting script), post-production items such as press books and dialogue continuities, and legal records (details of the acquisition of the property, copyright registration, and contracts with actors and directors). Editors of the Wisconsin/Warner Bros. Screenplay Series receive copies of all the materials, along with prints of the films (the most authoritative ones available for reference purposes), to use in preparing the introductions and annotating the final shooting scripts.
In the process of preparing the screenplays for publication, typographical errors were corrected, punctuation and capitalisation were modernised, and the format was redesigned to facilitate readability.
Unless otherwise specified, the illustrations are frame enlargements taken from a 35-mm print of the film provided by United Artists.
In theory, the Center should have received the extant scripts of all pre-1951 Warner Brothers Productions when the United Artists Collection was established. Recent events, however, have created at least some doubt in this area. Late in 1977, Warners donated collections consisting of the company’s Production records and Distribution records to the [USC] and Princeton  respectively. The precise contents of the collections are not known, since at the present time they are not generally open to scholars. To the best of our Knowledge, all extant scripts have been considered in the preparation of these volumes. Should any other versions be discovered at a later date, we will recognise them in future printings of any volumes so affected.