Directed by Dorothy Arzner

Directed by Dorothy Arzner

Judith Mayne
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/22/1995
Format: Paperback 62 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-20896-5
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Dorothy Arzner was the exception in Hollywood film history—the one woman who succeeded as a director, in a career that spanned three decades. In Part One, Dorothy Arzner's film career—her work as a film editor to her directorial debut, to her departure from Hollywood in 1943—is documented, with particular attention to Arzner's roles as "star-maker" and "woman's director." In Part Two, Mayne analyzes a number of Arzner's films and discusses how feminist preoccupations shape them, from the women's communities central to Dance, Girl, Dance and The Wild Party to critiques of the heterosexual couple in Christopher Strong and Craig's Wife. Part Three treats Arzner's lesbianism and the role that desire between women played in her career, her life, and her films.

Author Bio

JUDITH MAYNE, Professor of French and Women's Studies at Ohio State University, is the author of Cinema and Spectatorship, The Woman at the Keyhole, Kino and the Woman Question: Feminism and Soviet Silent Film, and Private Novels, Public Films.


““It is the first major study of Arzner’s work since 1975 and, considering the depth of Mayne’s research, will be the landmark study for many to come.” —Lambda Book Report “ . . . brilliant and lively reading . . . ” —Feminist Boookstore News “ . . . displays an interpretive subtlety that does justice to Arzner’s films themselves.” —The Lesbian Review of Books “ . . . brilliantly written and constructed . . . ” —Gay Times “[Mayne explores] in fascinating detail how Arzner succeeded in becoming a director, how her films reflected a distinct sensibility and set of life experiences, and how she was portrayed in the popular media.” —Steven Mintz, H-Net Book Review The first major study of the only woman film director who survived and flourished in the Hollywood of the 1930s and ’40s. Judith Mayne pays particular attention to Arzner’s roles as “star-maker” and “woman’s director” and considers Arzner’s lesbianism and the role that desire between women played in her career, her life, and her films.”

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Table of Contents


Part I
The Cinderella Girl of the Movies

1. Apprenticeship
2. Successes and Failures
3. The Independent
4. After Hollywood

Part II
Films for Women Made by Women

5. Working Girls

6. Odd Couples

7. Dance, Girls, Dance

Part III
Girl Director Sets New Standards of Beauty

8. Looking for Dorothy

Conclusion: Lesbian Detection