Dorothy Arzner

1897 – 1979

Hired as a typist at Famous Players’ Paramount Studios, Dorothy Arzner was promoted to script supervisor, writer, and “cutter” within her first six months. She worked as a film cutter from 1919-1926. From 1927-1943, as the only woman directing feature films in the Hollywood studio system, Arzner directed seventeen films, seven of which were edited by men. For the other ten, she hired Viola Lawrence for Craig’s Wife and First Comes Courage, Adrienne Fazan for The Bride Wore Red, Jane Loring for Merrily We Go To Hell, Working Girls and Anybody’s Woman, Helene Turner for Honor Among Lovers, Verna Willis for Sarah and Son, Doris Drought for Manhattan Cocktail, and Marion Morgan for Fashions for Women.

In 1938 Arzner became the first woman to join the Directors Guild of America. The DGA quotes Arzner as saying, “I was averse to having any comment made about being a woman director… because I wanted to stand up as a director and not have people make allowances that it was a woman.”
Sharing Our Story: Hollywood’s First Contract Director Dorothy Arzner’s ‘Dance, Girl, Dance’” by Samantha Shada. The full text can be found in the Appendix.



Adrienne Fazan

1906 – 1986

Adrienne Fazan began cutting films in 1931. She was helped early in her career by Dorothy Arzner, who promoted her from the short film department to feature films; she edited Arzner’s The Bride Wore Red. Fazan worked on many MGM films, including The Tell-Tale Heart, Anchors Aweigh, Singin’ in the Rain, and Lust for Life. She was nominated for an Oscar for An American in Paris and won an Oscar for Gigi. Both were directed by Vincente Minnelli, with whom she collaborated on eleven films.

“After I had sequences cut, I would show them to the director, and he would make comments. With Minnelli, he would mostly say, ‘Too tight,’ especially if it was somebody walking. He would count very slowly, ‘one, twooo, threeee, fourrrrrrr, cut!’ When I got the film on the Moviola, I would count a little faster, which, of course, was all right because I could lengthen the scenes later the way he wanted them. In the final editing, Freed would come in. Then it was up to the producer and the director to argue it out, and they would tighten the picture. Margaret Booth [MGM’s supervising editor] would yell and scream. ‘It’s too slow!’  She liked everything very tight, so I would trim it down some more.”
—“The Magic Factory: How MGM Made An American in Paris” by Donald Knox. The full text can be found in the Appendix.

“The studio made a rule that we could not work overtime without special permission…So I said, ‘Oh, the hell with you.’ I worked the overtime, but I didn’t put in for it, because I hate that business: ‘You can’t do that.’ What the hell! I’m working on the picture for the picture, trying to do as good a job as possible. Then they tell me I can’t work, I have to go home when I have work to do. I didn’t go for that.”
—“The Magic Factory: How MGM Made An American in Paris” by Donald Knox. The full text can be found in the Appendix.