Where I’m At Today

Ernest Callenbach, erstwhile editor of Film Quarterly magazine, once called me a “Hitchcoko-Hawksian.”  I never felt prouder; with that accolade he placed me among what might appear a vanishing breed of film buffs: the auteurists, those who believe that director are the authors (hence auteurs of their films, though only a small handful of directors ever attain to this lofty status, conferred often after years of work in film until, finally, a figure may be glimpsed in the carpet of their career.  This is how I understand the Andrew Sarris position on the matter.  When I was a film student at UCLA in the late 60s the auteur theory was all the rage.  I knew of the animosity toward it exhibited in the writings of Pauline Kael, who had a spat with Sarris, the Dean of American Auteur Critics, that went on for a considerable time.  I decided to challenge her when she guest lectured in a film school class, suggesting that Fellini had given us an auteur masterpiece in Otto i Mezzo, a notion Kael immediately pooh-poohed, calling Federico a fraud and a charlatan.  (This happens to be what Guido, the director’s alter-ego, tells his estranged wife he really is, asking her to accept him for all his flaws.)  I am still an auteurist at heart.  I hope you are, too.


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