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The American Cinema: Directors And Directions 1929-1968 Paperback – August 22, 1996
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You may not agree with all of Sarris's assessments, but this book provides the best possible opportunity to consider auteurism, an approach to cinema that, in an age that reveres Scorsese, Spielberg, and Tarantino, seems more relevant than ever. The book closes with an essay called "The Auteur Theory Revised," Sarris's attempt at a definitive theoretical statement. --Raphael Shargel
From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
But I love this book and always find it worth picking up to reread a few entries, for two or three reasons that never grow old:
1) Sarris IS an absolutely remarkable writer. His prose bristles with alternately apt and acid phrases and insights. The parallel between Ambrose Bierce and Sarris has grown on me through the years. (I think it was Sarris who brought currency to the word "pretentious"-- possibly THE serious put-down word from the 70s to the 90s, possibly to the present-- by the way. He used it with unerring surgical delicacy, as a bludgeon.)
2) He is hard to argue with in his negative evaluation of certain other respected directors. Thirty-five years ago, Sarris renounced Kubrick, noting, in typical form, that the very fact that he made one film every 5 years seemed to be all the proof his advocates needed of his integrity. Ouch! And he said that Kubrick is the director of the best coming attractions in the business.Read more ›
Sarris groups directors into categories including "Pantheon Directors," "The Far Side of Paradise," "Lightly Likeable," "Expressive Esoterica" and "Less Than Meets the Eye." Sarris is an avowed auteurist, meaning that he considers that in the great majority of films, the director's contribution is decisive.
I have used the book as a guide for my movie and video viewing for the past 20 years, and the rewards have been vast.
There's some things to quibble about (I never could see why he thought so highly of Blake Edwards, but I keep trying because I trust his insight. Even Sarris can change his mind as he did on Billy Wilder a few years back).
If you are a film buff and have not discovered his work (also recommended:
Confessions of a Cultist; The John Ford Mystery Book; You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet are among the best) start here. That goes double if you experience guilty pleasure and see things no one else does in people like Anthony Mann, Michael Powell, Sam Fuller, Max Ophuls, Budd Boetticher or James Whale. I have often given this book as a gift to film loving friends. It opens a world of discovery and rapport when a friends "gets it" and suddenly, you both have a shared sensibility and frame of reference.
Also, check out his website for yearly top ten lists and also the work of his wife Molly Haskell (especially good on Howard Hawks).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this many years ago and am planning to re-read it. The part about the tension between the material and the artist never made much sense and Sarris never applied it during his... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Gerry Robinson
This book is a classic and was a Christmas present for a relative who is a film freak. It covers American film directors and their films/film careers through 1968. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Stereo Nut
I am not a contrarian by nature but there are several points that require clarification among the many reviews of Sarris’ seminal “The American Cinema. Read morePublished 17 months ago by J. Ricciardelli
Sarris's book started a salvo the equivalent of the battle of Tushima Straits between those who bought the French idea of the director as "author" or auteur, and those who did not. Read morePublished on June 21, 2012 by Mark D. Burgh
Brilliant introduction to the movies. Writing style very entertaining, sharp and concise. Fun to compare thoughts on the overrateds and the underrateds. Read morePublished on March 12, 2012 by J. Rodeck
Enjoy reading about Hollywood. Been a movie fan all my life. Amazon makes it possible to read more for less. T. SmithPublished on April 19, 2011 by Terry G. Smith