Meet the Real Women Who Work: Dorothy Arzner’s Working Girls – 35mm Studio Print on June 21

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, June 21 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Dorothy Arzner • 1931
Two sisters, Mae and June Thorpe (Dorothy Hall and Judith Wood), move from Rockville, Indiana, to New York City seeking their fortune. Under the direction of Dorothy Arzner, this boilerplate premise becomes a nuanced examination of the intersection of class and gender in Depression-era urban America. The relationship between sexual mores, work, and social advancement is a central area of interest: the sisters’ professional positions are opportunities for both economic empowerment and romantic liaisons, the latter of which in turn can be a source of either upward mobility or social ruin. As the first female member of the Director’s Guild and the only woman director to sustain a Hollywood career into the 1940s, Arzner brought a focus on female relationships to her work that was rare among her studio contemporaries. The relationship between Mae and June is as important as the sisters’ romantic relationships, contrasting the literal bond of sisterhood and the support it provides with the often cruel and fickle world of men. Aside from her underground feminist film studies classic Dance, Girl, Dance, much of Arzner’s output remains unseen and unavailable outside of archives and studio vaults. (JR)
77 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by: Thelma Todd and Zasu Pitts in “The Pajama Party” (Hal Roach, 1931) – 16mm – 20 min

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art / Film Stills Archive

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