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Christopher Strong (PG) + To Be a Woman

Katharine Hepburn, dazzling in silver lamé, takes on her first lead role as a single-minded aviatrix in this delightful pre-Code melodrama. 

Led by a female creative team, with a script written by screenwriter Zoë Akins (adapted from the eponymous 1932 novel) and Dorothy Arzner in the director’s chair, Christopher Strong follows Hepburn’s Darrington (a character based partially on famous pilot Amy Johnson) as she falls for married politician Sir Christopher Strong (Colin Clive), and navigates the perilous territory of illicit love, monogamy and career in prim and proper 1930s London.  

Dorothy Arzner (1897–1979) was one of very few women to find credited work as a director within the studio system during the Hollywood Golden Age. Between the 1920s and 1940s, Arzner made a series of playful films which drew upon her own experience as a queer working woman to smuggle subversive ideas around gender, marriage and the injustices of patriarchal society into popular entertainment. Working with stars such as Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburn, Lucille Ball and Rosalind Russell, Arzner also created a series of indelible, unusually complex female leads.  

This programme is curated by archive activists Invisible Women

  • DIRECTOR: Dorothy Arzner
  • CAST: Katharine Hepburn, Colin Clive, Billie Burke
  • LANGUAGE: English

Please note: Christopher Strong will be introduced by Rachel Pronger of Invisible Women andpreceded by the short film To Be a Woman.

To Be A Woman (1951)

Pioneering filmmaker Jill Craigie built a reputation with her polemical and socially engaged films which often blended documentary, re-enactment and wry humour. In To Be a Woman, Craigie tackles the gender pay gap, exploring the experience of womanhood in twentieth century Britain with trademark wit and style. Ironically, the film was one of the last Craigie made as director—having become disillusioned with the sexism of the industry, she spent the rest of her career as a writer and political activist. 

BFI / BD2025 / Pictureville / National Lottery