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Definition: Arzner, Dorothy from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US film director and scriptwriter. Azner was the only femal director working in Hollywood in the 1930s. Her debut film was the 1927 Fashions for Women, and she went on to direct 15 more films. During World War II, Arzner made training films for the US Women's Army Corps. She was never allowed to direct again, and her pioneering role was not recognized until the 1980s.

Summary Article: Arzner, Dorothy
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


US film director

Born in San Francisco, she studied medicine at the University of Southern California and became a volunteer ambulance driver during World War I. She began her film career as a script typist in 1919, then, diligently learning the craft of film-making, she progressed from script supervisor to editor on such important silent features as Blood and Sand (1922). Encouraged by director James Cruze (1884-1942), she edited several of his westerns including The Covered Wagon (1923) and Old Ironsides (1926), which she also wrote. After making her directorial debut with Fashions for Women (1927), she directed Paramount's first sound feature Wild Party (1929). Her best-known films include Merrily We Go To Hell (1932), Christopher Strong (1933) and Dance,Girl Dance (1940). The only major woman director in Hollywood in the 1930s, she worked with many of the top female stars of the era, such as Clara Bow, Claudette Colbert and Katharine Hepburn.

  • Mayne, Judith Directed by Dorothy Arzner (1994).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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