This Woman's Work: Producer Harriet Parsons
by UCLA Film & Television Archive
UCLA Film & Television Archive presents free screenings at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum.
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In person: Karina Longworth, writer, producer and narrator of the You Must Remember This podcast.
In the 1940s, the vast majority of producers working in Hollywood were men. But along with Virginia Van Upp and Joan Harrison, Harriet Parsons (1906-1983) was one of the very few women able to make her mark as a feature film producer during this decade. Parsons got her start at Columbia and, after years being denied on-screen credit, moved to Republic Pictures in 1940. She would produce a total of six feature films with RKO before the gender-based roadblocks became too much to bear; she gave up producing in the mid-1950s and moved in with her longtime partner, Evelyn Farney. The evening’s screening will be introduced by Karina Longworth, writer, producer and narrator of the You Must Remember This podcast.
Meet the Stars #1: Chinese Garden Festival
Hollywood stars gather at the famed Pickfair estate for a garden party to raise funds for a war-torn China.
35mm, b&w, 11 min. Director/Producer: Harriet Parsons. With: Harriet Parsons, Mary Pickford, Barbara Jo Allen, Kay Aldridge, William Bakewell.
The Enchanted Cottage
For her first feature producing project, Parsons tapped screenwriter DeWitt Bodeen to adapt the 1921 play. The duo imbue real-world pain from their own repressed queer lives into their romance about a disfigured war veteran who finds love with a plain housekeeper after falling under the spell of an enchanted cottage. Parsons' first triumph was nearly never hers: after she pitched the project, it was reassigned to a more established male producer. Only in reaction to Hedda Hopper's scathing editorial accusing RKO of gender bias did the studio relent.
35mm, b&w, 92 min. Producer: Harriet Parsons. Director: John Cromwell. Screenwriters: DeWitt Bodeen, Herman J. Mankiewicz. With: Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young, Herbert Marshall, Midred Natwick, Spring Byington.
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