This time I’ll discuss the women in my new book “When Women Wrote Hollywood” which covers female screenwriters from the Silents through the early 1940s when women wrote over 50% of films and Frances Marion was the highest paid screenwriter (male or female) and the first to win 2 Oscars – but fails to appear in film history books, which continue to regurgitate the myth that male directors did it all – even though it’s been proven that the only profitable movies Cecil B. de Mille ever directed were all written by Jeannie Macpherson film ever won for Best Picture was written by Robert E. Sherwood (who people have heard of, mostly due to his connection to Dorothy Parker) and Joan Harrison.
Cari Beauchamp wrote “Without Lying Down” which was one of the first books to have covered entirely the career of Frances Marion and all these women I’m speaking of. This textbook does not appear in any film history course that I have found in Los Angeles or around the United States and yet it covers all these important women. Cari comes in as well. She lives in Los Angeles. So I am lucky. I’ve also expanded recently to invite the writers of video games because that is a whole new area for our students to move into. A very important area. These gentlemen were early writers of half-hour children’s shows and they moved into video games and now they run the development for Blizzard which is a very major video game company. They do Overwatch.
“Dorothy Rothschild, however, was not long concerned with embodying society’s ideal for young ladies. Her transformation into Dorothy Parker likely began with her admittance to Miss Dana’s highly exclusive school for girls – both “a finishing school and a college-preparatory one, quite progressive for its time”
The Intimately Unknowable Dorothy Parker A Study of her Life and Art by Elizabeth Dwyer
“I focus on the writers of television programs and authorship. That’s my thing, because we focus on directors as auteurs of film and we don’t realize — or we forget — that writers, are just like the writers of books. A director can’t direct 20 empty pages.”
A hit television show about a fictitious rock band, The Monkees (1966-1968) earned two Emmys–Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Acheivement in Comedy.
Capitalizing on the show’s success, the actual band formed by the actors, at their peak, sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined, and set the stage for other musical TV characters from The Partridge Family to Hannah Montana. In the late 1980s, the Monkees began a series of reunion tours that continued into their 50th anniversary.
This book tells the story of The Monkees and how the show changed television, introducing a new generation to the fourth-wall-breaking slapstick created by Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers.
Its creators contributed to the innovative film and television of 1970s with projects like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laugh-In and Welcome Back, Kotter. Immense profits from the show, its music and its merchandising funded the producers’ move into films such as Head, Easy Riderand Five Easy Pieces.
I also love what you guys said about early film — the music — that we have to study the visual. So we do go back to the silence and talk about them from the very start. We chronologically do this course so you understand the visual is as important as the verbal. In the first year, I used several textbooks. This one I learned about through the Journal of Screenwriting, yea, so it is a very handy thing to have as the teacher. I also use Writers in Hollywood and this lovely book of Anita Loos’ early screenplays as they were first written. They’re written mostly in prose. You can read the stories and why should she stood out back in the day. So that’s a set of them. Then I also use Framework which we mentioned the other day and one of the keynotes and I’m also lucky that I am in Los Angeles so we can have guest speakers come in and this of course is Thomas Stemple we mentioned the other day.
“Sadly, the modern era has brought forth no better understanding of the writer or her subjects from certain circles. John Zmirak of Crisis Magazine states, ‘Hellman’s depiction of self-serving viciousness and callous lying might seem like the keen insight of a literary moralist — until we sat down next to Lillian on the divan and got to know her a little better…'”
“Writer and director Garson Kanin referred to the Hacketts as “…an enchanting couple; they were the writers the producers and directors used to kill to get”. David Brown said they were “The ultimate class writing team of the Golden Age of Hollywood… Virtually all their films were successful… They were the epitome of elegance in writing””
Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett: The Most Beloved Couple in Hollywood By Julie Berkobien
“When people talk about television I get them to try and look at what were your favorite episodes of a program. Now, go to IMDB and find out who wrote those episodes and look at the rest of their career. What else have they written that you might enjoy, because clearly they speak to you. Their voice speaks to you.”
So how I teach it. That’s why I teach I want respect to come back to writers. That seems simple right? How I do it. I start in the very beginning when women were the major writers of Hollywood films. There were 50 percent of the films are in by women if not more and they made more money. This is Gene Gauntier from Ireland, this is Anita Loos and Jeannie Macpherson working with Cecil B. DeMille. She wrote every one of his financially successful films and when they stopped working together, his movies stopped making money. That’s the end of Cecil B. DeMille. How I teach it. I start by asking students very quick questions. What are your first five favourite films? Who directed those films? They always know. Who wrote those films? and the look of humiliation on their faces when they sit in a screenwriting class and cannot name the people who wrote their favorite films is ridiculous to me.