The American Cinema: Directors And Directions 1929-1968

Front Cover
Da Capo Press, Aug 22, 1996 - Performing Arts - 393 pages
2 Reviews
The auteur theory, of which film criticAndrew Sarris was the leading American proponent, holds that artistry in cinema can be largely attributed to film directors, who, while often working against the strictures of studios, producers, and scriptwriters, manage to infuse each film in their oeuvre with their personal style. Sarris's The American Cinema, the bible of auteur studies, is a history of American film in the form of a lively guide to the work of two hundred film directors, from Griffith, Chaplin, and von Sternberg to Mike Nichols, Stanley Kubrick, and Jerry Lewis. In addition, the book includes a chronology of the most important American films, an alphabetical list of over 6000 films with their directors and years of release, and the seminal essays "Toward a Theory of Film History" and "The Auteur Theory Revisited." Over twenty-five years after its initial publication, The American Cinema remains perhaps the most influential book ever written on the subject.
 

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The American cinema: directors and directions, 1929-1968

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This 1968 volume is probably the bible of the auteur theory of filmmaking, i.e., that the director's vision is what shapes film history. Though LJ's reviewer found some of Sarris's conclusions ... Read full review

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A work which can only be taken seriously if one subscribes to the nonsense of the auteur theory whose influence is long overdue for debunking and dismissal with the contempt that it deserves. Anyone who denigrates the work of some of the greatest directors in history( Houston, Wyler, Zinneman, Billy Wilder) simply beacuse they do not seem to live up to Sarris own standards of an "Auteur", is a HACK by any definition of the term. The issue here is the validity of auteurism which seeks one- person authorship to a cooperative project like film production, a notion which simply cripples logic. As important(even critical) as a directors role may be, only those who are also involved in the over-all production (editing, writing, cinematography,art direction ect.) can lay a claim to authorship. And not even then in most cases as has been pointed out by real scholars like Thomas Shatz. Sarris arguments and the whole mess of Auteurism needs to be burried with all the rest of the fossils as we move on and seek true enlightment in researching and understanding the greatest art form of our time.
Robert Lozada
 

Contents

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Page 33 - So far, so good, at least for the auteur theory which even allows for exceptions. However, Cameron continues: "On the whole we accept the cinema of directors, although without going to the farthest-out extremes of the la politique des auteurs which makes it difficult to think of a bad director making a good film and almost impossible to think of a good director making a bad one.

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About the author (1996)

Andrew Sarris is film critic for theNew York Observer and professor of cinema at Columbia University. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. Mr. Sarris has been the film citic for the Village Voice, editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Cinema in English, and an associate editor of Film Culture. He is the author of The Films of Josef von Sternberg, Interviews with Film Directors, The Film, Confessions of a Cultist, The Primal Screen, The John Ford Movie Mystery, and Politics and Cinema.

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