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UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program present

Independent Stardom on Screen: Freelance Women in Hollywood

Female (1933)
April 16, 2016 -
May 26, 2016
Emily Carman, author (4/16, 4/17, 4/29, 5/8, 5/14, 5/15, 5/26).

Read about this film series in the Los Angeles Times.

In her new book, Independent Stardom: Freelance Women in the Hollywood Studio System, Emily Carman rewrites the standard history that depicts female stars of the studio era as purely the creations of male studio executives who controlled their images and careers through restrictive, long-term contracts.  Deploying extensive research, Carman shows that stars such as Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, Irene Dunne, Constance Bennett, Miriam Hopkins and others were, in the mold of Mary Pickford, pioneers who leveraged their star power to manage their own Hollywood destinies as freelancers.  Successfully negotiating percentage deals long before James Stewart’s contract for Winchester ’73 (1950) and prefiguring Olivia de Havilland’s legal victory in 1944 that recognized the right for movie talent to be free agents, these women also wrested from the moguls creative decision-making over films—including their choice of scripts, directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, designers and co-stars.  While some proved more successful than others, Carman nevertheless makes the compelling case that for each of the actresses profiled in her book we must now recognize their business and production acumen as essential ingredients of these stars’ timeless screen images.  Independence, however, did not mean the same thing for all women in the studio era and Carman offers an equally compelling look at how women of color, including Anna May Wong and Dolores Del Rio, fared in an exclusionary contract system that often forced them into freelancing.  Through a selection of classic and rare films, this series offers the opportunity to rethink the legacies of these Hollywood legends in the context of their independent stardom.  Carman will be present to sign copies of her book and introduce many of the screenings in this series.

Series co-curated by Paul Malcolm and Emily Carman.

Past Programs & Events

Title Date and Time Location
In Name Only

To Be or Not to Be  /  In Name Only

Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Daughter of Shanghai

Daughter of Shanghai  /  Madame Du Barry

Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 7:00 pm Billy Wilder Theater
The Story of Temple Drake

The Story of Temple Drake  /  Call Her Savage

Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Gallant Lady

Gallant Lady  /  Ann Vickers

Sunday, May 8, 2016 - 7:00 pm Billy Wilder Theater
What Price Hollywood?

The Hard Way  /  What Price Hollywood?

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Baby Face

Baby Face  /  Female

Friday, April 22, 2016 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Theodora Goes Wild

Theodora Goes Wild  /  Topper

Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 7:00 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Ball of Fire

Ball of Fire  /  True Confession

Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater