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Screenwriter Wanda Tuchock retains a singular role in film history as one of the few women who began her career in the silent era and was able to maintain her career in Hollywood during the early sound years. It is now well known that after the end of the silent era, the number of women directors trickled down to nearly zero. Anthony Slide highlights this for us by pointing out that screenwriter Wanda Tuchock was the only woman apart from Dorothy Arzner to receive a directing credit on a Hollywood studio film in the 1930s (Slide 1996, 136). Tuchock shared the directing credit with George Nichols, Jr., on the RKO production Finishing School (1934). This legacy must have defined her career, as it is highlighted in her Chicago Tribune obituary, which also offers the information that she entered the industry in 1927 from work as an advertising copy editor, and this would have been when she was nearly thirty years old (A6).
Tuchock was not a product of the silent era and has essentially one silent film credit, shared with Agnes Christine Johnson, on Show People, a Marion Davies comedy vehicle based loosely on the life of Gloria Swanson. From there, at Metro-Goldyn-Mayer, she went on to write the scenario for the important all-black cast musical Hallelujah (1929) directed by King Vidor. Tuchock was one of the few female screenwriters who, along with Frances Marion, worked at MGM in the early 1930s, but one of her last jobs for the studio was the adaptation of the Marie Belloc Lowndes novel Letty Lynton (1932), notorious not only for the puff-sleeved dress that Gilbert Adrian designed for Joan Crawford in the film, but also for the lawsuit against the studio filed successfully by the writers of the play based on the same novel.
This charter member of the Screen Writers Guild continued to write one or two films a year in the 1940s. Her last two credits in the 1950s were apparently for a documentary short and a thirteen-minute fiction film that she wrote and produced.
Slide, Anthony. “The Talkies’ First Women Directors.” Films in Review vol. XXVII, no. 4, (April 1976): 226-229.
“Third Woman Gets Rank as Film Director; Wanda Tuchock Promoted by Radio Studio.” Chicago Daily Tribune (22 Nov. 1933): 19.
“Film producer Wanda Tuchock, 86.” Obit. Chicago Tribune (14 Feb. 1985): A6.
Archival Paper Collections:
Wanda Tuchock Papers, 1898-1975. UW-AHC.
Complete Project Bibliographies
A. Archival Filmography: Extant Film Titles:
1. Wanda Tuchock as Screenwriter
Show People. Prod.: Marion Davies, dir.: King Vidor, sc: Agnes Christine Johnston, Laurence Stallings, Wanda Tuchock (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp., Loews Inc., A King Vidor Production, A Marion Davies Production US 1928) cas.: Marion Davies, William Haines, Elinor Glyn, si&sd, b&w, 35mm., 9 reels, 7,453 ft. Archive: USW, USL, USR, USM, BEB, ITG, GBB, ITT, AUC.
C. DVD/VHS Sources:
Show People. DVD/VHS (MGM US 1998)