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Moving through into the 50s, we come up with Harriet Frank Jr. — a woman going by Jr. because her mother was Harriet Frank and her mother was a reader at one of the studios which is how she got into the business of writing. She married Irving Ravetch and together they made several important films. To me, most important is Norma Rae. Again a very female based film which really falls into Harriet’s world and also Stanley and Iris and Murphy’s Romance are very female-focused stories. Harriet was a really strong woman — very involved in the Union which makes sense when you think about Norma Rae right? So again names people don’t really know because these are considered Martin Ritt films because he directed all four of them, because he was best friends with Frank and Ravetch. So they liked to hire directors they knew who wouldn’t muck up their work and I believe in those collaborations. I don’t — like I’m dissing directors. I don’t mean to. I like directors but there it’s an even collaboration and I think that’s what academia has to start referencing more than we do because that’s how writers get lost and if male writers are getting lost you know female writers getting even more lost right? So we need to keep thinking about it’s a — it’s a collaboration.
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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