Breaking the Celluloid Ceiling — Our series honoring Women in Film
To commemorate the 100th birthday of legendary Ida Lupino, we are spending the year celebrating the achievements of women in film — both on and off screen. Our programming will highlight the crucial role women have played in both the history of Hollywood and independent film.
Lupino appeared as an actress in numerous Hollywood films throughout the 40’s and 50’s, but it was her work behind-the-camera as a producer, writer, and director that marked her as a pioneer. She was fearless and tenacious in all facets of filmmaking and this series is dedicated to her. (She also directed one of the only movies shot in Ambler, PA, the Hayley Mills comedy The Trouble with Angels.)
Our previous screenings in this series have included the Lupino-directed The Hitch-Hiker, as well as her acting turn in On Dangerous Ground. We also screened works by Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust), Agnes Varda (Cleo from 5 to 7, Faces Places with JR), Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry), and Nora Twomey (The Breadwinner).
Below are our upcoming screenings and why they have been included in this series:
A League of Their Own
1992 — d: Penny Marshall
Director Penny Marshall tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League which was founded in 1943, when most of baseball-playing age were fighting in World War II. Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry. An excellent sports comedy that features a dynamic and charming ensemble cast. Marshall attended the actual opening of the AAGPBL exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988 and was able to interview many real members of the league. This empowering film required all who auditioned to know how to play ball, and 2,000 women came out for the chance to show their skills. Geena Davis was the only cast member who did not know how to play in advance, but picked the game up quickly during the cast’s months long training prior to the start of filming. Geena Davis is herself a major proponent for women in film and established the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2004.
1942 — d: Archie Mayo
French leading man Jean Gabin stars in this moody dockside drama, which is part noir and part romance. The night after a drunken brawl, a longshoreman wakes up convinced that he has committed a murder. Filled with worry, he happens upon a troubled young woman, played by Ida Lupino, and a romance develops between the two outcasts. We continue to honor Lupino with this film for which she and Thomas Mitchell received Best Acting awards from the Board of Review. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White.
1968 — d: William Wyler
Hello, gorgeous! Funny Girl is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Barbara Streisand was nominated for a Tony Award for her powerhouse performance in Funny Girl on Broadway, then won the Best Actress Oscar for the same role in this film version — her motion picture debut. Streisand plays Fanny Brice, famous comedian and performer of the early 1900’s, and the film is loosely based on her rise to fame and her relationship with gambler Nicky Arnstein, played by a dashing Omar Sharif. The screenplay was written by Isobel Lennart, based on her musical play. Her other screenplay credits include Anchors Aweigh and The Sundowners. All three films were nominated for Best Picture Oscars.
1959 — d: Howard Hawks
In Howard Hawks’ classic western, John Wayne plays Sheriff John T. Chance. When a criminal’s wealthy brother tries to break him out of jail, Chance enlists the help of a group of misfits to ward off the hired guns that are sent into town. This classic western is included in our series thanks to a script co-written by Hollywood legend Leigh Brackett. Bracket has more than twenty writing credits to her name, including the noir classic The Big Sleep, El Dorado, The Long Goodbye, and a little sci-fi film, Star Wars V — The Empire Strikes Back. Brackett sadly died soon after finishing the first rough draft of Empire.
2004 — d: Mark Waters
SNL Alum Tina Fey wrote the hilarious screenplay for the modern classic Mean Girls. Lindsay Lohan plays Cady, who starts at a new school only to be confronted by the group of A-list popular girls known as “The Plastics”. The film was Fey’s screenwriting debut and was based on the non-fiction self-help guide Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman. Fey produced an excellent piece of social satire, now an iconic entry in the High School Comedy genre. As a show of the story’s lasting message, Fey’s musical adaptation of the film opened on Broadway in April 2018 and has received 12 Tony nominations.
1939 — d: George Cukor
The brilliant and funny Anita Loos was one of Hollywood’s foremost early screenwriters. The biting script for The Women, co-written by Loos and Jane Murfin, was based on the hit play by Clare Boothe Luce, a comedy of manners about status, gossip, and “l’amour”. George Cukor directs a fantastic who’s-who of acting talent in this all-female cast of over 100, including Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, and actress/gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Not a single male, human or animal, appears in the entire film. Filled with crackling dialogue, snappy comebacks, and fashion by the iconic costume designer Adrian. Loos’ other writing credits include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Gentleman Prefer Blondes. Murfin’s other credits include What Price Hollywood? and Roberta. In addition to writing the play The Women, Clare Boothe Luce served as managing editor of Vanity Fair from 1932–34, a congresswoman from 1943–47, and US ambassador to Italy in the 1950s.
Sleepless in Seattle
1993 — Nora Ephron
Rom-com master Nora Ephron co-wrote and directed this crowd-pleasing date movie. On Christmas Eve, Sam Baldwin’s son pours his heart out on a radio show about his widower father’s sadness and need to find a new wife, and his call is heard by journalist Annie Reed, who is drawn in by Sam’s Story. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star and are supported by Bill Pullman, Rosie O’Donnell, and Rita Wilson. Ephron (along with co-writers David S. Ward and Jeff Arch) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing; she had been nominated previously for When Harry Met Sally… and Silkwood. She also co-wrote and directed Mixed Nuts, Michael, You’ve Got Mail, and Julie & Julia. Ephron’s work in Hollywood as a director, producer, and screenwriter made her a cultural icon. In addition to those roles, she was also an accomplished journalist, essayist, novelist, and playwright. In 2013, the Tribeca Film Festival added the inaugural Nora Ephron Prize, annually awarded to a female director or write.
1936 — George Cukor
Greta Garbo stars in the classic MGM romance Camille, based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, with a script co-written by Frances Marion, Zoe Akins, and James Hilton. A luminous Garbo plays Camille, a worldly Parisian courtesan who is pressed to give up her true love in order to save his reputation. Greta Garbo received her third of four Best Actress Academy Award nominations for her portrayal of the tragic “Lady of the Camellias”. Co-writer Frances Marion is considered one of the most renowned female screenwriters in Hollywood history. Marion worked early on as an assistant to Lois Weber, an incredibly successful and prolific director in early Hollywood, from whom she received a great education in film production. Marion went on to write over 200 films, and by the mid 1920’s she was earning $3,000 a week, roughly equivalent to $40,000 today. She won Academy Awards in 1930 and 1932 for The Big House and The Champ, and was nominated in 1934 for The Prizefighter and the Lady. She was the first woman to win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
I’m No Angel
1933 — Wesley Ruggles
Mae West stars in I’m No Angel, supported by Cary Grant in their second box office hit of 1933, after She Done Him Wrong. West plays Tira, a circus performer in a seedy company seeking a better life among the New York elite. West wrote many of her own films, but this was the first where she was given sole story and screenplay credit. West established her reputation for pushing the envelope and tackling controversial topics in New York before heading to Hollywood. She wrote several plays, her first entitled “Sex” for which she was convicted of “producing an immoral play” and was sentenced to ten days in jail. The media coverage only helped West gain more attention. Her play “The Drag” dealt with homosexuality and was banned from playing in New York. West’s additional screenplay credits include Goin’ to Town, Klondike Annie, and My Little Chickadee.