Anita Loos: An Introduction with Dr. Rosanne Welch, Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting and the Retroformat Silent Film Society [Video]

Anita Loos: An Introduction with Dr. Rosanne Welch, Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting and the Retroformat Silent Film Society [Video]

During each of our Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting we take our MFA candidates on field trips around Los Angeles and this January that included the screening of a silent movie – “The Social Secretary” – hosted at the Historic Women’s Club of Hollywood with a full audience. Many attendees had never watched a film shown from a projector, much less a silent film on such a large screen with live piano accompaniment. The MFA co-sponsored the event with the , a group dedicated to promoting education and enthusiasm about the art of silent film.

I was happy to be asked to deliver this introduction to the work of screenwriter and novelist Anita Loos whose work bridged the worlds of silents – where she was instrumental in creating the swashbuckling character for Douglas Fairbanks – to talkies and screenplays to novels to Broadway plays. Her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes remains a classic, never having gone out of print, and it led to several film versions including the famous one starring Marilyn Monroe. Her book for Gigi helped give the play a successful transition to the well-known film that showcased Leslie Caron.

If you don’t know much about this prolific woman writer, check out my introduction and then go watch some of her films, many of which are on YouTube. Yet the experience of seeing it on the big screen became one of this Workshop’s most appreciated events.

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

 

Transcript:

…Rosanne Welch. [Applause]

Hello everybody. I am Dr. Rosanne Welch. I run the Stevens College MFA and TV and Screenwriting where we study film with a female gaze.

So we study Anita Loos and so I’m gonna –– we’re here for an hour and a half lecture right?

Very quickly, I just want to make sure people who are here know what we’re talking about. First of all, what we do in our program is we teach the history of screenwriting because in most places they teach you the history of film and that tends to be the history of directors which becomes the history of Great Men. While we love men, women founded Hollywood and need to be remembered.

So I was really pleased when Tom said I have the Anita Loos print and I was like, oh yeah Anita Loos. We study her. We love her and it would be lovely to see it with real live accompaniment. 

[Applause]

I’m gonna say a very quick things about Anita. I want people who don’t know her to know these things. First of all, we have to remember her as the first person to put wit in her title cards and today when someone writes a television or film script, in their action lines they use that technique. They use their own voice. They say funny things. They don’t just say the door opens right? They are still doing something essentially we learn from Anita. So I think that is a reason that she should stay with us. I think it’s also important to remember her as a star maker. She’s the reason you know who Douglas Fairbanks is. He was just the stumblebum actor until she made him a swashbuckler and then he became the Douglas Fairbanks –– the founder of the Academy right? She also –– I’m sure many of you can think about Carol Channing and Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. Talk about a character that lived forever in that actress. So I think that’s brilliant for Anita. She was also known for her diligent work ethic. The woman got up at five o’clock and wrote until two or three in the afternoon and then dealt with business ––  that and she would tell people she didn’t work very hard. It wasn’t very hard at all. Think about that. So I think that’s really beautiful. I think it’s important to think about all the literary friends she had. She was friends with Theodore Dreiser , and H.L. Mencken –  these are major names of their day. Interestingly enough her name is still a little more famous than theirs are. So there’s something about her work. Though people made fun of films and film writing clearly she survived where some of their stuff isn’t read that much anymore and also she was a brilliant friend to other women in the business and we know that that’s how everyone who moves up in the world by taking the next person below you and bringing them up right? So she was friends with the young Ruth Gordon. Y’all don’t remember when she was young but she was and Anita was someone who helped her move forward in the business. She was best friends with Helen Hayes who many people remember. So the idea that she understood that sisterhood was the way to help everybody. So those are the reasons that I still admire Anita. I always say that I met her when I was six years old – not the person but in her memoirs and so if you haven’t read A Memoir of hers you should because they’re funny and witty and teach us a lot about this time period and also we’ve written about her in this book which we will have for sale afterward. There you go. I’ll teach Tom how to sell. Which was written by the first inaugural students in our program about seven years ago and there’s a chapter on 25 different famous female screenwriters of that period. So if you’re interested we’ll have some more of those and we’ll talk afterward and we have three of the original authors of chapters right here with me tonight. So with that, I hope that everybody adores if you haven’t met Anita Loos before you will listen to her voice today and laugh. Have a great night.

[Applause]

 

The new classics: 10 of the best feminist films you need to watch in your lifetime

The new classics: 10 of the best feminist films you need to watch in your lifetime

Recently, I was quite happy when sent this link to a RUSSH website and their article The new classics: 10 of the best feminist films you need to watch in your lifetime.

Why? Because among the 10 they chose are 3 that Peg and I cover in the new book American Women’s History on Film (On the Basis of Sex, Hidden Figures, Confirmation):

Check out the rest in American Women’s History on Film:

Remember, you don’t have to buy the book to read it – you can request that your local library buy a copy that can then be shared with many, many others!

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

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

Transcript:

Host: I know it’s always so heartening when something turns up that was thought to be lost and there may still be some Treasures out there and people are discovering new things every day and that’s what you know of course of interest to us at the Museum – finding those rare rare voices that luckily were preserved in some way or other and just bringing them to light more.

 

Rosanne: Well and that’s what I always tell students too. If you go to places like museums you know when my students are in town – they’re low residency but they come in town once twice a year – and we’ll go to The Autry. We’ll go to the Herrick. We’ll go to different places but what – even long before I did this job – I would go to The Autry with my son because of course cowboy stuff cool but also you look at the photographs of who the Cowboys right and we all know they weren’t John Wayne. We all know that wasn’t who it was right? They were the Mexican Americans and they were Chinese Americans and you see that in the photographs but movies came along and made them all Caucasian and that’s ridiculous but that became the myth right? So the more we look at the real history the more we can tell those real stories. I love research. 

 

Host: Me too. Well, thanks so much for joining us it was such a wonderful conversation and I especially I think I’ll take away this idea of a sort of community type stories in westerns particularly from our perspective – what are those western films that feature that Community story and is that a sort of more feminine point of view or a kind of women’s view of the West. That’s going to stick with me but as will many other points thanks so much for joining us.

 

Rosanne: Thanks for asking me. I love to talk about this clearly and I love The Autry 

 Museum

 

Host: Thanks 

 

the archery Museum of the American West thanks our members and supporters

 

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

My Reading Vacation over Winter Break

When a semester ends – even before grades are finished and posted – I dive into reading books I’ve been hoarding. While I love to physically travel on a break, one can’t travel across the WHOLE break, so books became my in-chair vacations.

This week I found myself immersed in two books that can best be described as biographies of books as much as they are biographies of writers. I’m not even a huge fan of The Great Gatsby but I found myself fascinated by the idea that Maureen Corrigan based a whole book on “How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures.”  

So for my first trip I visited 1920s New York and the life and (sad) times of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Again, not a fan of the actual Gatsby, but now a big fan of the book about the book. You can’t get much more meta than that.

I followed that up with Imani Perry’s Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry (author of the play A Raisin in the Sun).

There I visited 1950s Harlem to find her and her circle of Black poets and writers and activists who truly did change the country through pacifist protests – and art. While most people recognize Hansberry as the author of the play, many don’t know that she also wrote the screenplay for the film. That’s catalogued in yet another book that I had already read: A Raisin in the Sun: The Unfilmed Original Screenplay which has a forward by Spike Lee.

Hope you’re finding some fun books to tuck into over this holiday season. You’ve probably heard about the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, which translates into “Christmas Book Flood.”

 Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod

The tradition is to give or receive new books on Christmas Eve and then read them late into the night. I’ve always read before bed. It helps me fall asleep so I’m not sure I could read all night long – but I’m more than happy to read all DAY long. THAT’s what I call a vacation.

23 The Importance of Archives from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

23 The Importance of Archives from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

…and women are terrible at keeping track of their own archives. So many of these women threw away material. They cleaned out their houses. They were busy with kids. They didn’t want all this clutter around when their career was over and it disappeared. I mean it’s a great story, Bess Meredyth – who wrote many, many films in the silent era – and then she married Michael Curtiz who is the director of Casablanca and there –as people study Casablanca often – he would be asked the question on the set and had to leave to figure it out and they knew he went home to call his wife to help him figure out the story problem. Then he’d come back and her son wrote a biography of her. He also became a TV writer. Problem was he never thought to ask his mother about her career. When she was older it was like I didn’t imagine she did anything interesting. So even within our own families we don’t talk about the work that we do women particularly and that’s a mistake because then the stories die. So we need you know in the places where we have things like the Library of Congress and all the catalogs of film, we have to start going backward and preserving as much of female work as we can and work by African Americans. We have a lot of early African-American screenwriters where we know they existed because there are advertisements for their movies but the movies don’t exist anymore. So how can we study stuff that we can’t have access to.

 

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

22 Preserving Women’s Film History from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

22 Preserving Women's Film History from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

Host: So are there some ways that we as – like the work you’ve been doing with your research – that in terms of revising those kind of incomplete histories of the film industry. What steps can we take to actually repair that and have a more accurate Narrative of the past?

Rosanne: Oh wow. Well, of course, hire more women writers. Step one to get more of those stories that – hire more underrepresented voices to tell us the stories we haven’t heard before and once we’ve done that, we have to preserve this material. One of the issues again with why we don’t remember these women is when we started preserving films and doing the Library of Congress and the 100 Years of – all of that stuff – people kind of push the that wasn’t important. It was Charlie Chaplin and these other people and we preserved all their material. We didn’t really think about that when it comes to stuff done by women.

 

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

Rosanne at Shakespeare and Company Booksellers in Vienna, Austria [Photography]

Rosanne at Shakespeare and Company Booksellers in Vienna, Austria  [Photography]

Find more of my photos on Instagram | Flickr | PixelFed

More from my Instagram Feed

New Book Available: American Women’s History on Film – Hollywood History Series #2 – Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier

It never grows old… today the 2nd book in the Hollywood History series that I co-wrote with my dear friend and colleague, Peg Lamphier, arrived on my doorstep. American Women’s History on Film covers 10 films that focus on some area of women’s history, usually through the eyes of a bio-pic since that is mostly the way women’s history is told.

New Book Available: American Women’s History on Film - Hollywood History Series #2

American Women’s History on Film is part of the Hollywood History series from ABC-Clio that included our earlier title The Civil War on Film. What’s been most fun about being part of this project has been the perfect way it split between my and Peg’s specialties. She is a Civil War historian, and my specialty is Screenwriting Studies — together we are both women’s history professors – so each book focused on an area in which one of us had perfect expertise.

Hollywood History Civil War On Film cover

As well, we learned from earlier books that we had to be very specific about the cover art we wanted on each of these books – that it should have a female presence on the Civil War book (since the assumption was they’d choose some photo of male soldiers on a battlefield) so for that book, they gave us a photo including Sally Field playing Mary Todd Lincoln beside Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln. For the current book, we were even more specific and requested women of color – and they gave us this lovely photo from Hidden Figures.

21 Examples of the Heroine’s Journey from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

21 Examples of the Heroine's Journey from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

Host: What are the examples of the heroine’s journey? What are some of those the stories that are in the heroine’s journey format template? I’m curious.

Rosanne: Oh I would obviously “The Wizard of Oz” like I said. In a TV world, we claim that for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” right? Very much so about that. The joke becomes you could say “Scooby-Doo” does that. It’s anything that involves a team coming together and so in a fun way that can also be sometimes a male-focused team. If you think about war movies they’re all about a team of people coming together for the betterment of each other. Even though they’re like the most dude movies and you could say the same thing about westerns. If it’s a group of people an Oregon Trail kind of thing or group of men in a town or the sheriff and a couple of his buddies. The heroine in terms of pulling away from being female and then pulling back into it, that tends to happen more often in sort of romantic comedy or something like “The Intern” where she’s trying to figure out how to be a leader of these other men and then she has to realize it’s about the nurturing that I do. That is better than me being more loud and annoying and stuff but I can make a list for you that I can have.

Host: Okay great. Well, I’ll claim “The Wizard of Oz” and “Buffy” as westerns. I think Sunnyvale – Sunnyvale? Is that – I think that’s in California we can call it

Rosanne: it is. That’s true. It is about making the town safe for the new inhabitants.

Host: Right.

 

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

20 Diversity in the Room from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

20 Diversity in the Room from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

But we’re also looking for news stories and the newer, most interesting ones. They’re gonna break through because the audience is so diverse and so wide and now we’re International right with Netflix and streaming and all that stuff. We can think about people we haven’t covered before and we know around the world other people will be interested in it. In the same way, we’re watching Japanese anime and you know Korean telenovelas and all that stuff.

 

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