Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Best of Enemies' Co-Director Morgan Neville on Intellectual Divas and the Theatricality of Politics 'Best of Enemies' Co-Director Morgan Neville on Intellectual Divas and the Theatricality of Politics Want to Go to Cuba and Learn About Contemporary Filmmaking in the Island Nation? Want to Go to Cuba and Learn About Contemporary Filmmaking in the Island Nation? Call for Entries for Berlinale Talents and Other Programs During the 2016 Festival Call for Entries for Berlinale Talents and Other Programs During the 2016 Festival Sundance Offers New Resource Tool for Female Filmmakers Sundance Offers New Resource Tool for Female Filmmakers Wim Wenders' Academy Award-Nominated Doc 'The Salt of the Earth' is Now on Blu-Ray/DVD Wim Wenders' Academy Award-Nominated Doc 'The Salt of the Earth' is Now on Blu-Ray/DVD 7 Reasons Why Roy Andersson's Latest Film is a Must-See Philosophical Wonder 7 Reasons Why Roy Andersson's Latest Film is a Must-See Philosophical Wonder 'Panama Canal Stories’ - A Cannes Market Sleeper 'Panama Canal Stories’ - A Cannes Market Sleeper 'Mother’s Day' Cast: Courteney Cox and Roselyn Sanchez Join the Ensemble  'Mother’s Day' Cast: Courteney Cox and Roselyn Sanchez Join the Ensemble Women Screen Directors Wanted in New Story and Leadership Program Women Screen Directors Wanted in New Story and Leadership Program 10 Rising French Talents to Watch! 10 Rising French Talents to Watch! Geena Davis to Launch Global Symposium on Gender in Media at BFI London Film Festival Geena Davis to Launch Global Symposium on Gender in Media at BFI London Film Festival How Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Used Determinación to Go From a Small Town to NYU to Sundance How Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Used Determinación to Go From a Small Town to NYU to Sundance Deranged Midnight Film 'Dude Bro Party Massacre III' is an Instant Cult Classic, Bruh Deranged Midnight Film 'Dude Bro Party Massacre III' is an Instant Cult Classic, Bruh Inaugural AMBI Benefit Gala to Include Prince Albert II of Monaco, Diana Ross, Anjelica Houston, and James Franco Inaugural AMBI Benefit Gala to Include Prince Albert II of Monaco, Diana Ross, Anjelica Houston, and James Franco Cannes'15: Jane Fonda, Olivia de Havilland and Megan Ellison to Receive 'Women in Motion' Honor Awards Cannes'15: Jane Fonda, Olivia de Havilland and Megan Ellison to Receive 'Women in Motion' Honor Awards LatinoBuzz: EXCLUSIVE! New East Los High Cast Announced! LatinoBuzz: EXCLUSIVE! New East Los High Cast Announced! INTERVIEW: Director of Quiet Riot Documentary Regina Russell & Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot INTERVIEW: Director of Quiet Riot Documentary Regina Russell & Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders - Europe Part 1 Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders - Europe Part 1 Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders - The Americas Oscars 2015 : Best Foreign Language Film Contenders - The Americas EXCLUSIVE!! Hulu Original Series, 'East Los High' Reveals the New Cast for Season 2! EXCLUSIVE!! Hulu Original Series, 'East Los High' Reveals the New Cast for Season 2!

The 62nd San Sebastian Festival Will Dedicate a Retrospective to the Filmmaker Dorothy Arzner

Photo of Sydney Levine By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz April 19, 2014 at 8:30AM

As the only woman to carve out a professional career as a director in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Dorothy Arzner (1897-1979) was one of a kind in the history of American cinema. During its 62nd edition, the San Sebastian Festival will pay homage to the work of Arzner, today considered a pioneer in women’s incorporation to the film industry, proclaimed as a filmmaker of strong style and personality for which she earned undeniable prestige within the Hollywood studio system.
0
Dorothy Arzner
Dorothy Arzner

As the only woman to carve out a professional career as a director in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Dorothy Arzner (1897-1979) was one of a kind in the history of American cinema. During its 62nd edition, the San Sebastian Festival will pay homage to the work of Arzner, today considered a pioneer in women’s incorporation to the film industry, proclaimed as a filmmaker of strong style and personality for which she earned undeniable prestige within the Hollywood studio system.

Born in San Francisco but raised in Los Angeles, Dorothy Arzner’s parents ran a café popular with the famous actors and movie directors of the time, including Charles Chaplin, William S. Hart and Erich von Stroheim. Having obtained a degree at the University of Southern Carolina and after a stint as an ambulance driver in World War I, Arzner began a career in the world of journalism. However, introduction by a mutual friend to the director William C. de Mille (brother of the famous Cecil B. DeMille) was to forever change the direction of her life: following a visit to a film studio, she decided to become a film director. Her first work in the film industry was as a stenographer at the Players-Lasky studios (later to become Paramount), transcribing film scripts. Her skills and strong nature opened the way to works of greater responsibility: script writer, script girl and, finally, editor. It was there in the editing room that Arzner earned her excellent reputation i n the Hollywood movie industry, working on 52 films and assiduously collaborating with the filmmaker, James Cruze. In the famous motion picture starring Rudolph Valentino, Blood and Sand (1922), apart from her brilliant editing work, Arzner helmed the second unit crew for the bull-fighting scenes. She also worked as a script writer on some of Cruze’s films.

Dorothy Arzner
Dorothy Arzner

The tenacious artist pressed Paramount to let her direct a film, threatening the studio bosses with the acceptance of an offer from their rivals at Columbia. Finally, she made her directorial debut on Fashions for Women (1927), and the following year became the first woman ever to direct a talkie, Manhattan Cocktail (1928). Arzner went on to helm another 15 films in the 30s and early 40s, working with some of the greatest Hollywood stars like Clara Bow, Katharine Hepburn, Fredric March, Rosalind Russell, Claudette Colbert, Maureen O'Hara and Joan Crawford in comedies and dramas powerfully focused on women characters: The Wild Party (1929)Anybody's Woman (1930), Sarah and Son (1930), Honor Among Lovers (1931), Working Girls (1931), Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), Christopher Strong (1933), Nana (1934), Craig's Wife (1936) and The Bride Wore Red (1937).

In 1933 she became the first woman member of the Directors Guild of America and indeed remained its only female associate for several decades. She also went down in history as the inventor of the first boom mike for having used a microphone attached to a fishing rod when filming the early talkies.

Although she gradually fell from prominence, Arzner’s career was championed in the 60s by the feminist movements and she received several tributes, including one by the Directors Guild of America in 1975. Today her filmography is not only newly appreciated as an extremely unusual exception in the history of American film, but also for its intrinsic values. Arzner left her mark through a series of movies of refined visual style that questioned the traditional sexual roles of the time and the part played by woman in society or which, according to certain critics, introduced veiled lesbian undertones to the rigid Hollywood structure of the moment.

The retrospective dedicated by the San Sebastian Festival to Dorothy Arzner will be organized in collaboration with Filmoteca Española. The cycle will be complemented with a publication on her figure and work.


This article is related to: Dorothy Arzner , San Sebastian Festival , International Film Market, International Film Festival, International Sales Agent, International, International Film Business, Women in Film, Women: By and For, William C. de Mille, Fashions for Women

E-Mail Updates