As the UCLA Film Archive, responsible for restoring some of the most adventurous and challenging films of the Hollywood studio era writes in the program notes for the series, “The Archive is pleased to commemorate the indispensable career of director Dorothy Arzner (1897-1979) as part of a year-long commemoration of our own 50th Anniversary. This retrospective features six Archive restorations of Arzner’s work, which have helped to spur scholarship into and retrospectives of the director’s remarkable achievements. The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television is also proud to claim Arzner as a former professor.
A remarkable and nearly unique figure in American film history, Arzner forged a career characterized by an individual worldview, and a strong, recognizable voice. She was also, not incidentally, the sole female director in the studio era to sustain a directing career, working in that capacity for nearly two decades and helming 20 features—conspicuously, still a record in Hollywood.
Distinguished as a storyteller with penetrating insight into women’s perspectives and experiences, Arzner herself emphatically made the point that only a woman could offer such authority and authenticity. At a time when the marginalization of women directors in the American film establishment is still actively debated, we celebrate Dorothy Arzner, and the Archive’s long association with her legacy.”
Film screened include The Wild Party, Anybody’s Woman, Working Girls, Sarah and Son, First Comes Courage (a personal favorite of mine), Craig’s Wife and Christopher Strong (perhaps her best known films), Dance, Girl, Dance, Nana, The Red Kimona, Merrily We Go To Hell and a number of other titles from her long career, in gorgeously restored prints. If you’re going to be in the Los Angeles area, especially since many of these titles are simply not available on DVD – and as with director Ida Lupino, when is Arzner going to get a box set of her complete works (probably never, unfortunately) – you owe it to yourself to see the work of this pioneering and brilliant filmmaker.