Until just a few years ago, for a woman to be a film director was something very extraordinary. Fortunately, this anomaly is being corrected and now there are many filmmakers who can show their work to the point that festivals can only be organized with their films. A good example of this is the International Women’s Film Festival that is programmed these days in the Film library. But today we will fix our attention on another of its cycles that serves as a perfect complement to this contest. Is about Dorothy Arzner, a woman in the dream factory, which claims to vindicate the work of this pioneer who directed a score of films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was the only Hollywood director in that golden age, had an exciting life, worked with the best actresses of the moment and brought a unique look to both comedy and drama.
Lesbianism and motherhood
To start today (and Tuesday 15) we can discover The wild party (1929), a dramatic comedy about boarding school students who prefer parties to books, but everything changes when the wildest of them falls in love with their anthropology teacher. The film featured unusual themes such as female relationships in these types of centers and even lesbianism. It was carried out by a star of the time, Clara Bow, very insecure with her voice in the early talkies, for which Arzner invented what would later become the famous giraffe microphone. Tomorrow Thursday and Wednesday 15 will be projected Sarah and her son (1930), a drama about a German immigrant who marries a ruthless man who sells their son in common to a wealthy family. Years later, she tries to get it back even though she fears that she will be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. A moving view of motherhood from a woman’s perspective.
The retrospective continues with Get your man (1927, Friday the 11th), a silent comedy about an American woman and an aristocrat who fall in love after being locked in the Paris Wax Museum for a whole night. But he explains that he is engaged and is getting married that same week so she hatches a plan to get it. A very funny film in which Clara Bow exploited her mischief to the maximum. Will follow Nobody’s wife (1930, Saturday 12 and Thursday 17), in free session. He deals with a lawyer who falls into alcohol after being abandoned by his wife. In full drunkenness he meets a showgirl and, the next morning, discovers that they have married, so he decides to continue with her. The film stands out for his calm portrait of alcoholism showing it as an escape route and without any moralizing purpose.
Work and class differences
Sunday the 13th will be seen Working girls (1931), adaptation of a theatrical work that, unlike the film, was performed solely by women and took place entirely in a female pension. It tells the story of two sisters who travel from Indiana to New York with the intention of finding a job and a husband. The movie reflected the girls’ work and romantic difficulties and female solidarity. Honor among lovers (1931, Tuesday 15 and Saturday 19) focuses on the differences between men and women both work and class. Claudette Colbert plays the secretary of a powerful stockbroker who tries to seduce her, but she prefers another man. Her superior does not give up and decides to hire her husband with unexpected consequences.
Christopher Strong (1933, Tuesday 15 and Sunday 20), premiered in our country as Towards the heights, had another star as the protagonist, Katharine Hepburn. Despite its title, the film focuses on her, the pioneering aviator Cynthia Darrington who broke records in the world of aviation and fell in love with a prestigious married MP with whom she had a relationship. The movie was trying denounce social conventions that affect women. Yours forever was the Castilian title of We happily go to hell (1932, Wednesday 18 and Thursday 24), a romantic drama about an alcoholic writer who is about to premiere his first play on Broadway, but his wife is upset because the protagonist is an old girlfriend of the artist, which causes a marital crisis .
Social hypocrisy and a heroine
Another of the stars of the time, Joan Crawford, worked under him at The bride was going red (1937, Wednesday 23 and Sunday 27), which it was about social hypocrisy. A count defends in front of a friend that the only thing that separates the poor and the rich is luck at birth. To prove it, he sends a humble singer for two weeks to a luxury hotel to pose as an aristocrat in expensive clothes. Tape criticizes the importance of costumes and class in female identity. Rosalind Russell worked with her on Craig’s wife (1936, Thursday 24 and Friday 25), a drama centered on a dominant woman who decides to marry for money in order to carry out her ambitions. Reading the film implies that the only way for women to achieve independence was through a ruthless attitude similar to that of men. Arzner took care of endowing the character with a great attraction and glamour in contrast to the softness of her husband.
Dance, girl, dance (1940, Saturday 26) was in front of John Ford’s fetish actress, Maureen O’Hara, and recounted the adventures of two dancing friends who end up parting ways and one is dedicated to classical ballet while the other goes to vaudeville and to nightclubs. It was intended to make one think about the difference between art and money and contained an unusual scene in which the protagonist faced with male audiences who only wanted to see scantily clad girls. The last film of his career will close the cycle Value comes first (1943, Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30), renamed here Supreme sacrifice. The protagonist, Merle Oberon, is a spy for the Norwegian resistance who tries to marry a Nazi commander to get information. Its main contribution consists of a heroine role that was traditionally a male role. A month to discover the talent of a director who left her mark and paved the way for many others.
‘Dorothy Arzner, a woman in the dream factory’
Where? Filmoteca de Catalunya (Plaza Salvador Seguí, 1-9).
When? Until June 30th.
Price: from 3 to 4 euros.
More information: Film Library of Catalonia