What To Watch During TCM's Trailblazing Women

by | September 30, 2015 | Comments

This October,  in partnership with Women in Film Los Angeles, Turner Classic Movies will be showcasing films directed by women in their primetime slots on Tuesdays and Thursdays as part of a three-year programming initiative to raise awareness of the history of women in film working behind the camera. We’ve picked one film from each programming block that we think is essential viewing.

Lois Weber – The Blot (1921) 100%


Lois Weber directed over 100 shorts and feature films in a career that stretched over three decades and is credited with pioneering many techniques, including using split screen to show simultaneous action. Her 1921 film The Blot tells the story of the impoverished Griggs family, whose patriarch — a law professor — can barely support his family while teaching spoiled rich kids.

Airing on: October 1 at 7:15 p.m. PT / 10:15 p.m. ET

Dorothy Arzner – Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) 83%


Dorothy Arzner worked in the film industry for over thirty years, moving from a script typist to film editor before making her directorial debut in 1927 with The Wild Party (during which she invented the earlier version of the boom mic). Her penultimate feature film, Dance, Girl Dance, features one of Lucille Ball’s most acclaimed performances. Ball places a dancer named Bubbles who rises to fame as a burlesque dancer, while her friend Judy (Maureen O’Hara) struggles to become a ballerina. Notable for its frank discussion of gender politics (a theme throughout Arzner’s directorial filmography), the film was not a financial success in its initial release, but was reassessed in the 1970s for its feminist subject matter.

Airing on: October 6 at 5 p.m. PT / 8:00 p.m. ET

Barbara Loden – Wanda (1971) 91%


The only film of writer, director, and actress Barbara Loden, Wanda was an independent feature. Shot with a crew of just four people, including Loden, Wanda opened in limited release in 1971, and although it did well in Europe, it languished in relative obscurity until it was released in France in 2003. A semi-autobiographical film inspired by an article Loden read about a woman who thanked a judge for sentencing her to prison, Wanda follows its titular heroine as her husband takes custody of their kids and she becomes involved with a bank robber. There’s a great interview with the director on the Mike Douglas Show where she discusses what drove her to tell this story and why she insisted on directing it herself. Loden, unfortunately, died before she completed another film.

Airing on: October 8 at 5 p.m. PT / 8:00 p.m. ET

Euzhan Palcy – A Dry White Season (1989) 81%


Marlon Brando hadn’t made a film in nearly a decade before appearing in A Dry White Season, director Euzhan Palcy’s second feature film. Notable for being the first feature film directed by a black woman and produced by a major Hollywood studio (MGM), the film is set in South Africa in 1976 during apartheid. Although it received mixed reviews, Brando earned an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Airing on: October 13 at 8:45 p.m. PT / 11:45 p.m. ET

Shirley Clarke – Portrait of Jason (1967) 100%


Shot in 12 straight hours by avant-garde filmmaker Shirley Clarke, Portrait of Jason focuses on hustler and aspiring cabaret entertainer Jason Holliday. One of several films Clarke shot in the Chelsea Hotel, the film uses cinéma vérité techniques, prodding and provoking Holliday to tell his troubled life story. Recently restored by Milestone Films, it remains a unique and fascinating piece of documentary cinema.

Airing on: October 15 at 9:45 p.m. PT / 12:45 a.m. ET

Penny Marshall – A League of Their Own (1992) 78%


Fresh off the success of her Best Picture-nominated film Awakenings, Penny Marshall amassed an extraordinary ensemble cast of women, including Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Anne Ramsay, Megan Cavanagh, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna, to star as the ballplayers in this fictionalized account of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. A League of Their Own focuses on sisters Dottie (Davis) and Kit (Petty), who are recruited to play for the Rockford Peaches as part of the newly-established AAGPBL, which was established during WWII when it seemed Major League Baseball might shut down for good. Throw in Tom Hanks as the coach — who had previously worked with Marshall in Big — and “There’s no crying in baseball!,” and the result is an iconic film that still resonates with viewers two decades later.

Airing on: October 20 at 5 p.m. PT / 8:00 p.m. ET

Leslie Harris – Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1993) 67%


Like Barbara Loden, Leslie Harris only made one feature film (so far), but also like Loden, that one film is about a young woman whose story Harris was in a unique position to tell. Just Another Girl On The I.R.T. follows Chantel Mitchell (Ariyan A. Johnson), an A-student living in Brooklyn whose plans for her future start to crumble when she discovers she’s pregnant. While the story may seem familiar, Chantel is the kind of heroine we don’t often see in mainstream films and one whose voice is still struggling to be heard today.

Airing on: October 22 8:45 p.m. PT / 11:45 p.m. ET

Mira Nair – Salaam Bombay! (1988) 93%


Indian-born Mira Nair discovered her love for filmmaking while studying at Harvard University, where she began to make documentaries on Indian culture. Nair collaborated with her friend Sooni Taraporevala on the screenplay for Salaam Bombay!, which features actual street children from Bombay. The story focuses on Krishna (Shafiq Syed), who is put out of his home by his mother after he sets fire to his brother’s bicycle and is told he cannot return until he earns enough money to replace it.

Airing on: October 27 at 8:15 p.m. PT / 11:15 p.m. ET

Julie Taymor – Frida (2002) 75%


After a twenty-year struggle, producers Nancy Hardin (who optioned the rights in 1983) and Salma Hayek (who signed on in 1997) finally saw their film vision of the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo become a reality under the helm of Julie Taymor. Taymor, who worked mostly in theater, had only directed one film previous to Frida, the 1999 Shakespearean adaptation Titus. Hayek’s performance in the film, which traces Kahlo’s turbulent life from age 18 until her death, received rave reviews and and earned her a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars.

Airing on: October 29 at 12:45 a.m. PT / 3:45 a.m. ET

Trailblazing Women airs every Tuesday and Thursday in October. View the complete schedule here.

Tag Cloud

series video comiccon Rocketman Star Wars Anna Paquin Nat Geo Mystery hist The Arrangement Musicals BBC One worst LGBTQ Character Guide emmy awards Baby Yoda quibi Superheroe FX on Hulu ratings Cannes aliens football Western children's TV Cartoon Network Country Action Walt Disney Pictures canceled comic venice cancelled TV series Academy Awards AMC Winter TV cancelled game show OWN war 2018 Marvel Studios Disney streaming service anthology TCA Winter 2020 E! Photos mockumentary worst movies fast and furious finale Disney Plus reviews Reality Competition crime drama Television Critics Association GLAAD Oscars Tubi Film Festival Super Bowl Marvel Holiday Trivia Mary poppins Ellie Kemper ABC Family all-time E3 transformers Trophy Talk Black History Month cults game of thrones YA Warner Bros. nfl Dark Horse Comics TruTV name the review composers Logo period drama rotten movies we love nbcuniversal Ovation Captain marvel Crackle Infographic police drama comedies Sundance TV dogs singing competition theme song Stephen King 72 Emmy Awards documentary 2020 Television Academy doctor who casting twilight sitcom versus 2015 laika Disney+ Disney Plus 007 chucky VICE Awards Paramount Trailer Hulu justice league Tomatazos asian-american Travel Channel Sundance Now Netflix Christmas movies Drama scorecard Pride Month satire witnail GIFs Pirates stand-up comedy The Walking Dead BET Awards indie documentaries The Witch Hallmark TCA Awards cancelled television Vudu TV renewals mutant parents streaming psycho 2019 Food Network spanish language crossover sag awards Shondaland dragons BET breaking bad talk show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Comics on TV halloween Music USA LGBT 45 films WarnerMedia Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Grammys ITV HBO Go TBS TCM festivals Film VH1 television Best and Worst HBO Showtime hispanic ghosts batman Kids & Family Hear Us Out 2016 20th Century Fox adventure zombies Heroines Fantasy political drama PaleyFest Election FOX Britbox PlayStation movies mission: impossible scary movies science fiction TCA 2017 spinoff Star Trek romance Marathons Premiere Dates Quiz Calendar blaxploitation Polls and Games miniseries BAFTA Sundance HBO Max hollywood dramedy Syfy supernatural sports Amazon President technology USA Network Certified Fresh FX rotten MCU cooking Columbia Pictures DC Universe Song of Ice and Fire TCA OneApp Arrowverse spider-man Spring TV American Society of Cinematographers cops Pet Sematary IFC Films blockbuster indiana jones Podcast Family NBC Chernobyl Writers Guild of America Comic Book comics true crime Brie Larson Sony Pictures Elton John RT21 Bravo Amazon Prime Video directors strong female leads FXX Sneak Peek award winner robots Musical anime Video Games Summer YouTube Red Biopics Ghostbusters New York Comic Con YouTube Turner Classic Movies werewolf CW Seed Disney Channel franchise classics IFC renewed TV shows 2017 concert MTV joker discovery Binge Guide cartoon unscripted See It Skip It dc video on demand die hard A24 revenge Box Office Horror YouTube Premium travel MSNBC Tumblr WGN latino CBS San Diego Comic-Con medical drama cars reboot sequels Animation History The CW free movies First Look festival DC Comics romantic comedy Teen BBC Apple TV Plus Pixar Reality zero dark thirty Valentine's Day Spike Emmy Nominations binge CBS All Access Superheroes kids a nightmare on elm street GoT Esquire Set visit Epix thriller Watching Series Rock Amazon Studios spy thriller sequel Nickelodeon Amazon Prime VOD 24 frames golden globes Paramount Network Thanksgiving Awards Tour TNT Winners stoner Funimation Discovery Channel Spectrum Originals biography Marvel Television Black Mirror disaster Opinion docudrama dark Apple TV+ crime thriller ABC crime Fall TV Lucasfilm Mindy Kaling criterion Classic Film book Peacock nature toronto Nominations Lifetime Rom-Com Netflix tv talk screenings harry potter Endgame slashers remakes 21st Century Fox SDCC Turner space psychological thriller TIFF what to watch news christmas movies Martial Arts richard e. Grant Pop TV politics X-Men Mudbound A&E adaptation foreign facebook Women's History Month Hallmark Christmas movies Starz Disney independent Masterpiece elevated horror Red Carpet SXSW Adult Swim zombie TV Land diversity obituary 4/20 Extras cats Fox News TV BBC America animated Mary Tyler Moore green book toy story Pop screen actors guild jamie lee curtis Tarantino natural history Countdown Schedule Year in Review social media universal monsters ESPN teaser DGA south america child's play El Rey superhero Cosplay cancelled TV shows First Reviews National Geographic Holidays Toys Freeform Christmas TLC Lifetime Christmas movies spain serial killer vampires stop motion SundanceTV critics CMT Mary Poppins Returns Creative Arts Emmys Shudder CNN APB based on movie Comedy RT History Apple DirecTV Avengers 71st Emmy Awards best Rocky Sci-Fi Lionsgate PBS historical drama The Purge movie Comedy Central cinemax boxoffice Crunchyroll Interview Universal canceled TV shows Acorn TV NYCC DC streaming service Emmys dceu