, April 11, 2000

American Movie Classics Honors Women Pioneer Filmmakers in an Original Documentary and Film Festival ‘Reel Models: The First Women Of Film’ Airs on Tuesday, May 30

Alice Guy, Lois Weber, Frances Marion and Dorothy Arzner are Profiled

Newly Restored Early Films to Accompany the Special

BETHPAGE, New York, – Alice Guy, Lois Weber, Frances Marion and Dorothy Arzner are four pioneering women filmmakers who made indelible contributions to the world of film but are practically unknown. On Tuesday, May 30 at 8:00 PM (ET) as part of its “Hollywood Real to Reel” series, AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS and Barbra Streisand’s Barwood Films will salute these women, who were trailblazers in the cinematic world, in an original one-hour special, REEL MODELS: THE FIRST WOMEN OF FILM. In addition, AMC will present a film festival that encompasses key films made by these women.

Through original footage, film clips, interviews, first person accounts and insightful commentary from prominent movie industry leaders such as Shirley MacLaine and Francis Ford Coppola, REEL MODELS: THE FIRST WOMEN OF FILM explores the tremendous creative and commercial roles early women pioneers played in the motion picture industry. Guy, Weber and Arzner were directors and Marion was a screenwriter.

The silent age of film was the Golden Age for women in Hollywood. In the 1910s and 1920s, at least half of all films were written by women. These women were pioneers in the film industry, and they bravely attacked previously taboo subject matters: prostitution, divorce, infidelity and alcoholism. Alice Guy’s western ALGIE THE MINER (1912) shows how the filmmaker liked to mix up traditional gender types in her films. Lois Weber’s use of frontal nudity in THE HYPOCRITES (1914) created a censorship outcry. Frances Marion’s THE BIG HOUSE (1930) brought to life an inside look at a 1920s prison. Dorothy Arzner’s THE WILD PARTY (1929) showcased Clara Bow as a sexy student being thrown out of a school dance for wearing a low-cut dress.


Alice Guy was the world’s first woman director and the first woman to head her own studio. D.W. Griffith has frequently been called the “father of the movies,” but before he directed his first film, Guy had already directed hundreds of short films in France. Guy made her first movie in her spare time while working as a secretary for the Gaumont Film Company in 1896, but was warned not to let her filmmaking interfere with her secretarial duties.

In her remarkably prolific 28-year career, she directed and produced hundreds of critically acclaimed films in France and the United States. Most of Guy’s films have been lost, but among those that have survived, her 1906 feature THE LIFE OF CHRIST was the most impressive. Other Guy films featured include LA FEE AUX CHOUX (1896), MADAME A DES ENVIES (1906), THE SEWER, (1911), ALGIE THE MINER (1912), DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT (1913) and OCEAN WAIF (1915). Leading Guy historian Alison McMahan provides insightful stories about Guy’s life and career.


In 1916, Weber was the highest paid director at Universal Studios. At the height of her career, she was as famous as D.W. Griffith and more talked about than Cecil B. DeMille. In addition to her directing talents, Weber also wrote, acted in and produced many of her films. Her commitment to social issues produced films on birth control, divorce, prejudice, abortion, promiscuity and poverty. Leading film historian Anthony Slide shares Weber’s cinematic contributions in the special REEL MODELS: THE FIRST WOMEN OF FILM will show clips from many of Weber’s films, including A JAPANESE IDYLL (1912), SUSPENSE (1912), HOW MEN PROPOSE (1913), THE HYPOCRITES (1915), WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN? (1916), and THE BLOT (1921).


Two-time Academy Award winner Frances Marion was a renowned and highly respected screenwriter. A stunning ing