Winter 2006

Dorothy Arzner

Member, 1938-1979

“Women’s dramatic sense is invaluable to the motion picture industry,” said Dorothy Arzner, whose contributions include being the first female member of the DGA. A typist, screenwriter, editor and ultimately director, Arzner is also believed to have developed the boom mic, enabling actors to move and speak more easily in early talkies. As a director who was at one time under contract to Paramount, Arzner is best known for directing such strong personalities as Clara Bow, Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn and Joan Crawford in films like Honor Among Lovers (1931) and Christopher Strong (1933). She eschewed meandering shots or anything that would distract from her clarity of vision or devotion to detail. “Maintain conscious control of your medium - nothing random,” was her philosophy. She later taught at the Pasadena Playhouse and UCLA, where she inspired filmmakers including Francis Ford Coppola.


The Legends column began as part of the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the DGA in 2006 to profile Guild members who have made outstanding contributions to their Guild in service and leadership.

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