Cedric Gibbons, Irving Thalberg, Clara Beranger, Ernst Lubitsch, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and William DeMille.

Mary Pickford (top).

Professor W. Ray McDonald holds letters from students interested in USC's motion picture study course.


In 1932, USC becomes the first American college or university to introduce a course of study leading to a bachelor's degree in cinema.

Director Frank Capra (It Happened One Night, It's a Wonderful Life) joins the ranks of notable USC Cinematography Department guest lecturers.

Richard Bare's The Oval Portrait, the first student film produced at USC, wins the Paul Muni Award, an early college competition sponsored by Warner Bros.; the film was shot at MGM Studios for a mere $400.


Virginia Clough, Warren Scott, USC President Rufus von KleinSmid, and an unidentified woman look over a script in the "old cinema building" in 1935.


1939, USC alumnus A. Arnold Gillespie (1899-1978) becomes the School's first Oscar winner, which he earned for Special Effects in The Wizard of Oz.


In 1940, the Department of Cinematography becomes the Department of Cinema. The program moves into the former Architecture and Fine Arts Building, sharing space with the Trojan band in a facility that came to be known affectionately as "the stables.