01 Introduction from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

01 Introduction from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

 

Transcript:

It’s really sad to think that many of these early women writers – and there were more women writing films in the early silent days than there were men – it was a wild west of a job and so we always let women in the beginning and then when it becomes a business we say oh no no this is now a place where men can make money. You ladies should leave

VO: From the Autry museum located on Tongva homelands in Los Angeles California join us in asking “What is a western?

(Western Music)

 

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. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


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.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

10 Three Women Of Color from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

 

10 Three Women Of Color from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Transcript:

They don’t tell the story of people like Marion E. Wong all right. Without having the material, these stories disappear. She’s just really coming into the textbooks now. She was from San Francisco. She only made one film which was “The Curse of Kwon Guan.” She tried to get it distributed and she was turned down by almost every distributor in New York. She traveled from San Francisco to New York with her parents and they could not get the movie sold. So they went bankrupt on it and they continued running their restaurant in San Francisco.

Jeannie Louise Toussaint Welcome was a famous African-American screenwriter in the early silent days. She worked out of Chicago. She comes from a famous family to the extent that her brother was a Harlem Renaissance photographer and her parents worked for President Ulysses S. Grant. We have advertisements of the work that she did and the films that she made but none had been preserved. So we do not have things to study right? So the archives can’t tell us the whole story because these women do not have their words in those archives. We have advertisements for what they did. That’s how we know that they worked. The same is true with Tressie Souders who worked out of Kansas, We have listings from movies that were made and distributed in black-owned theaters and those kinds of things and Eloyce King Patrick Gist. We know of course more about Zora Neil Hurston because she was doing documentary work through the WPA. So and because of her novels she’s a name that we recognize but these other people were all working in this time period and forgotten because they don’t exist in our archives.

 

 


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Screenwriter Laura West Perelman: From New York to LA and Back – Dr. Rosanne Welch, Script Magazine, June 2022

Screenwriter Laura West Perelman: From New York to LA and Back – Dr. Dr. Rosanne Welch, Script Magazine, June 2022

 

This month in my monthly column for Script Magazine – which “celebrates the female screenwriters who came before us” — I turn the spotlight on playwright turned screenwriter Laura West Perelman. She wrote 6 films, many adapted from plays she had co-written with her husband, humorist S. J. Perelman. I learned more about her when I researched them both for my dissertation “Married: With Screenplay” which studied several married screenwriting couples from the early days of Hollywood.

What I learned that happened often with married couples is that many of the female screenwriters were lost to history as newspapers referred more often to their husbands as the authors of the works. Unless the woman was equal or more famous than her writing partner husband (such as was the case with Dorothy Parker, Ruth Gordon, and Frances Goodrich Hackett) the contribution of the wifely part of the partnership was ignored, even by later oral historians. So it’s nice to have a place to bring their names back into the conversation about their screenplays.

Screenwriter Laura West Perelman: From New York to LA and Back


Read about more women from early Hollywood

 

09 Friends & Archives As Unreliable Narrators from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

09 Friends & Archives As Unreliable Narrators from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Transcript:

Friends can be unreliable narrators. Salka Viertel was an early screenwriter. She wrote several Greta Garbo films and was in fact sidelined when Greta decided to stop making films. Her home in the Hollywood Hills is a big salon. The new book out “The Sun and Her Stars” is all about that but men who write about her write about her chocolate cake. The only man to write about her as a writer that he respected was Christopher Isherwood the playwright who she rented her guest house to with his lover Don Bachardy and so he respected her work enough to mention that but her friends – her male friends – all thought about her cooking. Archives don’t want to be unreliable narrators but they can be if women don’t send their work to them. If other people don’t preserve the work of women. So as much as we adore these places they don’t tell the whole story either. I don’t think it’s their fault.

 

 


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08 Bess Meredyth from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

08 Bess Meredyth from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Transcript:

Bess Meredyth had the same thing happen. Her husband Michael Curtiz pretty much neglects to mention her. He of course directed Casablanca and the Epstein brothers are fond of saying that whenever there was a problem on the set Michael Curtiz would say I have to go figure this out and they knew he went to the office and he called his wife at home and she would solve the story problem and he would come back to the set and say he’d figured it out but the Epstein’s knew that he couldn’t figure it out. It was Bess who was doing it for him from home. Sadly her son did the same thing to her. In his own memoir about his television writing career, he didn’t bother asking his mother much about what she did because what could she really have done that was very important right? She was a girl. So by accident he dismissed his own mother and her career which was quite long and quite famous.

 

 


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07 Husbands As Unreliable Narrators from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

07 Husbands As Unreliable Narrators from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Transcript:

Husbands are unreliable narrators. Sarah Y. Mason wrote with her husband Victor Herman who later became a director of the Marx Brothers comedies. They won an Oscar for adapting Little Women and they wrote it twice right? They wrote the original version and they wrote the Katherine Hepburn version. They won to oscar together. When he did his oral history he said that he was the better writer than his wife. She was already dead. She didn’t get to say how much work he really did but if you look them up on IMDb, she has about 20 credits before she marries him and about 20 or 30 credits after they stop writing together because he becomes a director. He has about seven credits and half of those are writing with her. So who’s the real writer in that team. I don’t know but I think I can tell you. Clara Behringer’s husband did pretty much the same thing and Clara helped found the writing department at USC. She wrote one of these earliest books on how to write for the screen –– which is very difficult to use because it costs about $600 online right now –– because it’s like there’s few copies left but she wrote 85 different films. Her name is not particularly brought up often at USC even though she helped found the school and her husband was William DeMille who wrote about his career and not about hers.

 

 


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06 Female Writers Can Be Unreliable Narrators from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

06 Female Writers Can Be Unreliable Narrators from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Transcript:

Francis Marion. So female writers are their own unreliable narrators. She was throwing away all her papers at the end of her career. She felt nobody would care. Her secretary dragged them out of the trash and gave them to Carrie Beauchamp who ended up writing “Without Lying Down”, right? This is one of the most wonderful books about the history of Francis Marion which wouldn’t have existed because the female writer herself threw away her work. She did not think that it was worth keeping. She didn’t think anybody would care. Likewise, Carrie worked on “Anita Loos Rediscovered” I don’t think Anita Loos needed rediscovering because Anita was very good at taking care of herself. So I apologize to Mr. Stemple for having to say his book didn’t tell us what it should but I’m not going to apologize to Mark Norman because he knew better. His book came out after Carrie’s book did and he actually interviewed Carrie and he refused to use the information from her book in his. So there.

 

 


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New Book Coming This November – “American Women’s History on Film” by Rosanne Welch and Peg A. Lamphier

I’m proud to announce my latest book (co-written by my colleague Peg Lamphier) is set for publication this November 2022 by ABC-Clio/Bloomsbury. In it we take a look at 10 films that tell stories about famous moments or women from Women’s History in the United States.

New Book Coming This November – 

Films covered in each chapter are:

  1. Norma Rae (1979)
  2. Silkwood (1983)
  3. Joy Luck Club (1993)
  4. GI Jane (1997)
  5. Iron-Jawed Angels (2004)
  6. Salt of the Earth (1954)
  7. Monster (2003)
  8. Hidden Figures (2016)
  9. Confirmation (2016)
  10. On the Basis of Sex (2018)

We’re particularly pleased with this cover. We learned from our Encyclopedia of Science and Technology that you have to ask for what you want upfront. For that one, the art department had chosen photos of 2 male inventors and the space shuttle to decorate the cover. We asked that it be 2 male inventors and one female inventor for balance. No one had thought about including a female until we asked. So for our Civil War on Film book, we asked for that upfront and sure enough, though the bulk of Civil War films are full of dudes in uniforms they found a photo of Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln sitting beside Mr. Lincoln.

For Women’s History in the United States, we asked to be sure to include women of color and you’ll see we succeeded at that request.

Similarly, a couple of years ago in my work as book reviews editor for the Journal of Screenwriting I asked to use a photo of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala on the cover since one major article was about her amazing career writing everything from Room with a View to Howard’s End to Jefferson in Paris. The editor agreed but then production hit a snag in that the only photo available in our price range was too small to blow up to fill the whole cover. But then someone in production had the great idea to use that small photo several times, strung along on a graphic that made it look like a strip of film with that same picture in every frame. Creative and brilliant and salvaged the idea of having a female face on the cover while simultaneously celebrating the work of a wonderful female writer.

I’m learning!

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

From ABC-Clio…

By exploring a range of films about American women, this book offers readers an opportunity to engage in both history and film in a new way, embracing representation, diversity, and historical context.

Throughout film history, stories of women achieving in American history appear few and far between compared to the many epic tales of male achievement. This book focuses largely on films written by women and about women who tackled the humanist issues of their day and mostly won.

Films about women are important for all viewers of all genders because they remind us that the American Experience is not just male and white. This book examines 10 films, featuring diverse depictions of women and women’s history, and encourages readers to discern how and where these films deviate from historical accuracy. Covering films from the 1950s all the way to the 2010s, this text is invaluable for students and general readers who wish to interrogate the way women’s history appears on the big screen.

Features

  • Focuses on 10 films with an emphasis on racial and class diversity
  • Explores where storytelling and historical accuracy diverge and clarifies the historical record around the events of the films
  • Organized chronologically, emphasizing the progression of women’s history as portrayed on film
  • Accessible for general readers as well as students

 

05 Unreliable Narrators In Textbooks from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

05 Unreliable Narrators In Textbooks from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

 

Transcript:

Screenwriters who write textbooks are unreliable narrators. When Mark Norman wrote What Happens Next he has about six women mentioned in the entire book and he declares that their work wasn’t very worth studying. So this is not a textbook that I use after two years of trying it and my students pretty much having a fit. Now I love Tom Stempel. Tom gave us the first book on screenwriting history but he didn’t know anything about Francis Marion at the time. He didn’t have much to say about her and I’ll tell you why in a second. For McPherson, he listened to what Cecil B DeMille had to say and that’s what ends up in his book. Now i’ve been lucky enough to have him come to speak to my students and he has apologized because he’s learned more in the days since he wrote that book and he asked the publishing company could he do a rewrite but they didn’t think that the ratio of new pages would make the higher price worth it and they didn’t give that to him but he has a column you can read in Script Magazine and he tries to cover for the things he missed originally.

 

 


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04 Joan Harrison & Jeannie Macpherson from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

04 Joan Harrison & Jeannie Macpherson from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

 

Transcript:

Joan Harrison as we think about Alfred Hitchcock and we’re gonna hear all more about her later. So I won’t go into it but let’s remember that we call them Hitchcock films but they were written by other people. Hitchcock is not a writer all right. she wrote Rebecca which got the academy award nomination and there’s also in the corner here just a little bit on John Michael Hayes who wrote several other Hitchcock films. I really hate the fact that directors get authorship but that’s another story. Look at this picture. Almost everybody can name Cecil B. DeMille whether you recognize him or not. If I say his name you’ve heard it a million times in film history. So you know Jeannie Mcpherson? Jeannie Mcpherson wrote almost all of the films that Cecil B. DeMille made that made money and when they stopped working together his films stopped making money but when he was giving an oral history later in life, she had already died. He said “She was not a good writer. She would bring in wonderful ideas but she could not carry a story all the way through. I carried the story” and his word is the last word we have on her career because she died too young for people to start doing oral histories and by the way she was a pilot too. That’s not from her acting. She was actually a pilot. She was his private pilot.

 

 


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