Host: Usually the directors become the heroes of film history. What’s different between the history of screenwriters and the history of directors or actors or actresses in what gets remembered?
Rosanne: Of course. We always grant you that people go first to see an actor or an actress. They fall for that person. That’s who they are going to see the movie for. That’s just the truth. The whole writer-director thing makes me crazy. Back in the day, they recognized writers more. Writers were in “Photoplay” magazine when they had marriages or they were taking vacations. We read about people like Lorna Moon and Anita Loos, obviously. All these people and then what happens is the “Auteur Theory” shows up and the “Auteur Theory” blows us away because François Truffaut over there in France decides directors are the real author of a movie. Even though they don’t write anything unless they’re writer/directors and I always tell my students the word Writer still comes before Director in that phrase.a
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.