The film portion of the Russell M. Saunders film collection consists of 90 to 100 reels of 16mm film (roughly 10,000 feet of footage) and over 100 reels of 8mm film. Some of the content is "home movie" footage of Muscle Beach from the 1950s and 60s, including muscle men, beauty contests and acrobatic acts performed for beach crowds. Most of the footage was shot in various places in Southern California, but some reels were shot in Hawaii, Oregon, New York and Canada. All other footage includes, but is not limited to, stage performances, circuses, Olympic tryouts, ice skating performances, water skiing, surfing and various commercially-made productions featuring Russ Saunders and his performance troupe. Most of the films show men, women and children involved in acts such as adagio, acrobalance, acrobatics, teeterboard, ballet, trapeze, gymnastics, trampoline, uneven bars, rings, tightrope, ice skating, water skiing, tandem surfing, cannon jumping, Olympic diving and various other variety and circus performances, including some with animals. The collection also includes nearly 500 slides and some reels of 1/4" audio tape.
The 16mm film has been examined and cataloged at the reel level; the 8mm film reels and the slides, however, have not been cataloged individually.