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Ruth Gordon. Now we’re up to Ruth. Ruth only wrote four movies together with her husband Garson Kanin. Two of them you’ve heard of Adam’s Rib and Pat and Mike these are Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy vehicles. This couple was best friends with Gordon and Kanin and they wrote the movies outside of the studio system. If you worked as a writer in a studio you got assigned something to work on. These two just wrote movies they wanted to in their own house and then sold them to the studio to actors they knew so nobody rewrote them and they were on the set through most of the production because they hired George Cukor who was a famous director, and another friend of theirs, to direct them. What I think is important for us to think about Ruth is that — and I love Katharine Hepburn and I don’t want to like mess with her reputation too much — but she has a reputation for being a feminist. That’s wrong. Katharine Hepburn stayed the mistress of Spencer Tracy their entire relationship. He never left his wife and she never left him for not leaving his wife. Rumor has it — stuff has come out lately — that he actually beat on her and she put up with that. That’s not a feminist woman. Her characters in the films were feminists because guess why? Ruth was. Ruth was writing herself and her own attitude.
Dr. Rosanne Welch discusses the women in her new book “When Women Wrote Hollywood” which covers female screenwriters from the Silents through the early 1940s when women wrote over 50% of films and Frances Marion was the highest paid screenwriter (male or female) and the first to win 2 Oscars. Yet, she fails to appear in film history books, which continue to regurgitate the myth that male directors did it all – even though it’s been proven that the only profitable movies Cecil B. de Mille ever directed were all written by Jeannie Macpherson film ever won for Best Picture was written by Robert E. Sherwood (who people have heard of, mostly due to his connection to Dorothy Parker) and Joan Harrison.
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