Dorothy Arzner was an American film director. Her directorial career in feature films spanned from the late 1920s into the early 1940s, a time period in which there were very few?if any?other women working in the field.
Born in San Francisco, California, Arzner grew up in Los Angeles, where her father owned a restaurant frequented by many Hollywood celebrities. After finishing high school, she enrolled at the University of Southern California with hopes of becoming a doctor. During World War I, she left school to work overseas in the ambulance corps. By the time the war ended, she decided against returning to her medical studies and, after a visit to a movie studio, decided to pursue a career as a film director.
Through connections with director William C. DeMille, Dorothy got a job at Paramount Pictures. Starting out as a script writer, she was promoted to film editor within six months and quickly mastered the job. Her first assignment as an editor was in 1922 for the renowned classic Blood and Sand, starring Rudolph Valentino. She was soon receiving accolades for the high quality of her work.
Impressed by her technique, director James Cruze employed her as a writer and editor for several of his films. Arzner had achieved a great deal of clout through this, along with her work on over fifty other films at Paramount. She eventually threatened to move to rival Columbia Studios unless given a directorial position. Paramount conceded in 1927, putting her in charge of the film Fashions for Women, which became a financial success.