CO-SPONSORED EVENT | Film Series: We Can Do It! Trailblazing Women of Hollywood’s Golden Age: Dance, Girl, Dance

March 11, 2024 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room, 603 E Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, MI


Film Series: We Can Do It! Trailblazing Women of Hollywood’s Golden Age

CEW+ is sponsoring a series of classic films at the Michigan Theater by some of Hollywood’s most influential women. This series aims to feature women who broke down barriers to diversity and equity in early Hollywood, clearing the path for those who followed.

Join us after the film for a panel discussion on the impact and influences of these trailblazing women.

During Hollywood’s Golden Age of Film female actors, directors, and production staff had to fight against mainstream traditional gender roles while working within the studio system. Women in Hollywood had to tread carefully to be able to advocate for their rights while avoiding being branded “difficult”, a moniker that could end a career. While often imperfect, each movie in this series has something interesting to say about gender, race, and sexuality.

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) 1hr 30 min


Dance, Girl, Dance was panned by critics of its day as a superficial story about burlesque dancers, but found a warm welcome in the feminist movement of the 1970s. The film follows two women (played by Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball) as they strive to succeed in the male-dominated world of showbiz, and highlights their different responses to the objectification of women’s bodies under the male gaze.

Director Dorothy Arzner was the only female director working in Hollywood from 1927 until 1943; she was one of the very few women able to establish a successful and long career in Hollywood as a film director until the 1970s. Arzer was in a long-term relationship with a woman, Marion Morgan, who also worked as a dance choreographer for this film. The list of Arzer’s accomplishments is long, but a few highlights include being credited with inventing the boom mic, being the first woman to join the Director’s Guild of America, and the first woman to direct a talkie (1928’s Manhattan Cocktail).

As far as influential women, this movie has a few, in 1962 Lucille Ball broke the glass ceiling as the first female studio head in Hollywood, at Desilu Productions. She paved the way for women in leadership positions in television and film. Maureen O’Hara was considered headstrong and no-nonsense and refused to compromise her morals, calling out the “casting couch” where studio executives would coerce sex from young women in exchange for better roles.

Full Film Series Schedule:

  • His Girl Friday (1940) – Starring Rosalind Russell – Monday, March 4th
  • Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) – Dir. Dorothy Arzner, starring Lucille Ball – Monday, March 11th
  • Adam’s Rib (1949) – Starring Katherine Hepburn – Monday, March 18th
  • All About Eve (1950) – Starring Bette Davis/Anne Baxter/Marilyn Monroe – Monday, April 1st
  • The Hitch-Hiker (1953) – Dir. Ida Lupino – Monday, April 8th
  • Carmen Jones (1954) – Starring Dorothy Dandridge – Monday, April 15th
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1956) – Starring Liz Taylor – Monday, April 22nd