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Noa Noa Screenplays

Identifier: MS-3771

The collection consists of 155 photocopied leaves of the orginal agency's copy of the Noa Noa screenplay dating from around the 1970s, and the original German translation of the screenplay that is undated. This screenplay, an original story by James Agee, was about the life of artist Paul Gauguin with a focus on the relationship with fellow artist Vincent van Gogh. The film was never produced.


  • circa 1970s, undated


The material in this collection is in English and German.

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


0.1 Linear Feet


Photocopy agency draft script, likely dating from the 1970s, and a German translation that is undated, for an unproduced film, Noa Noa, by James Agee. The screenplay is about the life of artist Paul Gauguin with a focus on the relationship with fellow artist Vincent van Gogh.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Rufus Agee was born to Hugh James and Laura Whitman (Tyler) Agee in Knoxville, Tennessee on November 27, 1909. Hugh Agee was killed in an automobile accident in 1916, leaving a deep impression on his young son. In 1918, Laura Agee moved James and his younger sister, Emma Farrand, to Sewanee, Tennessee where James attended the St. Andrews School. It was here that he met Father James Harold Flye, who had a profound influence on him. The Agees returned to Knoxville in 1924, and James Agee attended Knoxville High School during the 1924-25 school year. He continued on to Phillips Exeter Academy followed by Harvard University. A parody written for The Harvard Advocate contributed to Agee's employment at Fortune Magazine. His first book (written with photographer Walker Evans), Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, (1940) grew out of an article for Fortune. Agee then wrote book and film reviews for Time before becoming a scriptwriter for television and movies, where he produced such famous works as The African Queen (1951) and The Night of the Hunter (1955). Agee died of heart trouble (exacerbated by his lifelong heavy smoking and drinking) on May 16, 1955 in New York City. At the time of his death, he had been working sporadically on a novel about his father's death for approximately 20 years. His good friend David McDowell completed the work, which was published as A Death in the Family in 1957. The book won Agee a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1958.

Agee's personal life included many lovers and three wives, Olivia Saunders (m. 1933), Alma Mailman (m. 1939), and Mia Fritsch (m. 1945). Alma bore his first son Joel (b. 1940), and Mia gave him Theresa (b. 1946), Deedee (b. 1950), and John (b. 1954).

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA