…but so these women have moved into tv they start doing these other sorts of westerns and then of course Leigh Brackett moves back into movies when she writes “The Empire Strikes Back” but also think about the era of tv as it expands and grows they’re done telling the same repetitive stories. So then we’re going to get Beth Sullivan and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”, right which takes the West from that female perspective and is based in real life on a couple of women who couldn’t be doctors in the East, right, but it’s still Western. We got horses. We got cute guys and you know outlaw outfits. It’s a western. It’s just a female experience. So they see much more opportunity there and then slowly maybe they’re appealing back in the movies when it comes to westerns but not as much as we’d like.
The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories. Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that. Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”.
I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras. If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. —
What this entire presentation
As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.