In her 1991 autobiography Ginger: My Story, Ginger Rogers didn’t mince words: “It was tough being a woman in the theatrical business in those days…women were not allowed in the production department or in the directorial field. We had script girls, dress fitters, costume designers, and stand-ins, but no women were on the cameras or operating the sound boom, or, indeed, working on any of the sound equipment. There were no women set designers, nor were females allowed to act as assistant directors or directors.” In 1982, a comic strip summed up Hollywood sexism in one memorable phrase: “Sure [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards…and in high heels!”
David O. Russell is one of the most exciting film directors working today. Beginning in the 1990s with the oddball comedies Spanking the Monkey and Flirting With Disaster, then taking a unique spin on the war genre with Three Kings and continuing through his recent Oscar-nominated trio—The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle—Russell’s films are built upon the most basic human desires and the complex, often tragic, often humorous relationships they create.