In the ’90s, there weren’t many successful female film directors in Hollywood (even today, there aren’t many female directors). There were a few, mostly actors-turned-directors like Penny Marshall and Barbra Streisand, but not many. Ephron’s decision to start directing her own material after many years as a successful journalist, novelist, and screenwriter, and her immense success with Sleepless in Seattle, was a very significant one. Here’s Entertainment Weekly in 1992 reporting from the Toronto set of her first film as a director, This Is My Life.
And YouTube has Ephron’s first produced feature film script, a TV movie called Perfect Gentlemen. (Though Ephron was the daughter of screenwriters, the husband-wife team of Phoebe and Henry Ephron, she’d been reluctant to get into the business herself: “I never wanted to be in the movies because my parents were in the movies. Yecchh!” she told the Los Angeles Daily News in 1992. “I honestly believed that by going into journalism, I was turning my back completely on my parents’ life. but y’know, every journalist writes a screenplay, and so did I.”) The movie, a breezy little caper comedy about four women who team up for a heist, is hurt by an inappropriate disco score – it was 1978 – but boasts an impressive cast that includes Lauren Bacall, Sandy Dennis and Ruth Gordon. Here’s part 1 and here’s part 2; the rest of it is on YouTube in six parts.