I first found Anita Loos in her memoir A Girl Like I which sat on the sparsely covered “Hollywood History” shelf in my local library one summer. Reading her story showed me women had been masterful in the world of screenwriting, which taught me that they could – and would be again – even though it was the late 1970s and I could only name two female screenwriters. Nancy Dowd, who had won the Best Screenplay Oscar for Coming Home and Harriet Frank, Jr., who had been nominated for Norma Rae. (Watch future columns for more on their storied careers.)
Dr. Welch discussed many highly successful female screenwriters of early Hollywood and explained why they don’t appear in most mainstream histories of the era.
The essays in this book were written by the alumni of the inaugural class of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting and come from the stories of the many brilliant female screenwriters studied in our History of Screenwriting courses and collected into When Women Wrote Hollywood.
It seems quite appropriate that in March, the month we set aside to commemorate all the many marvelous contributions women have made in the arts, I’ve begun a monthly column for Script Magazine celebrating famous female screenwriters of the past. The first column posted today. Come along and learn the names of the many wonderful women who wrote Hollywood.
I’m pleased to begin this new column in March, the month we set aside to commemorate all the contributions women have made – and will continue to make – as writers in media forms ranging from silent films to talkies to television to video games.
People often ask me why I created a series of History of Screenwriting courses and not courses on the History Film. I tell them that the History of Film most often becomes the History of Directors which in turn becomes the History of Great Men and I am done with that version of history. I’m also done with the auteur theory that came from French film critics deciding directors were the ‘authors’ of the movies – a theory that has been disproven over and over again but still refuses to die. The word writer comes before director in the job title writer-director because when people talk about the film and TV shows they love they rarely recollect a director’s camera angles but they always quote the writer’s dialogue.
In honor of World Book Day I wanted to say thanks to all the Readers of all my books — and to all the Librarians who have purchased books to be read!
What would we do without librarians and libraries? Writers need them for our research and readers need them as homes away from home. I can’t count the summer days I spent in the local library gathering a cart of books to take home and read. As an only child, books were my summer companions. Now it’s amazing to me to think books with my name on them sit on shelves beside all the ones I loved.
Read a book today to celebrate a Happy World Book Day!
MFA Executive Director Dr. Rosanne Welch will give a Zoom presentation on “When Women Wrote Hollywood” for the Empire State Center for the Book, the New York State affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. This event begins at 7 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Central on Tuesday, March 9, and is free and open to the public.
Dr. Welch will discuss many highly successful female screenwriters of early Hollywood and explain why they don’t appear in most mainstream histories of the era.
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. —
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.
“Where’s HER Movie” posts will highlight interesting and accomplished women from a variety of professional backgrounds who deserve to have movies written about them as much as all the male scientists, authors, performers, and geniuses have had written about them across the over 100 years of film. This is our attempt to help write these women back into mainstream history. — Rosanne
An Italian Baroque painter, Gentileschi began her careet at the age of 15, gained an international clientele, and was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence (in the 1620s).
She is now considered one of the most accomplished seventeenth-century artists.
Artemisia Lomi or Artemisia Gentileschi (US: /ˌdʒɛntiˈlɛski/, Italian: [arteˈmiːzja dʒentiˈleski]; July 8, 1593 – c. 1656) was an Italian Baroque painter, now considered one of the most accomplished seventeenth-century artists, initially working in the style of Caravaggio. She was producing professional work by the age of fifteen. In an era when women had few opportunities to pursue artistic training or work as professional artists, Artemisia was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence and she had an international clientele.
Many of Artemisia’s paintings feature women from myths, allegories, and the Bible, including victims, suicides, and warriors. Some of her best known subjects are Susanna and the Elders (particularly the 1610 version in Pommersfelden), Judith Slaying Holofernes (her 1614–1620 version is in the Uffizi gallery), and Judith and Her Maidservant (her version of 1625 is in the Detroit Institute of Arts).
Artemisia was known for being able to depict the female figure with great naturalism, and for her skill in handling color to express dimension and drama.
The reviewer (from the University College of North Manitoba, Canada) singled out several chapters for being outstanding for various reasons. They found Amelia Phillips’s chapter on Jeanne Macpherson to demonstrate “exacting research”, Julie Berkobien’s chapter on Francis and Albert Hackett to be “beautifully crafted” and Chase Thompson’s chapter on Lois Weber to be “trailblazing”. They found that Pamela Scott gives “thorough and measured” coverage to the scripts of Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman; Laura Kirk “comprehensively” examines Sam and Bella Spewak’s signature style; Kelly Zinge authored “carefully detailed discussion” of Lillian Hellman’s confrontation with the Blacklist, and that Elizabeth Dwyer’s work on Dorothy Parker is “riveting.”
Congratulations to all the contributors to our book!
The spoiled, somewhat “mama’s boy” young son of a railroad magnate and the pretty young daughter of the magnate’s partner set out to stop their respective fathers from their constant quarreling. In the process they find themselves falling for each other. – IMDB