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The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-1968
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The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-1968

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  271 ratings  ·  12 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 s ...more
Paperback, 392 pages
Published August 22nd 1996 by Da Capo Press (first published 1968)
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What can one say about a book that inspired a generation of cinephiles? The American Cinema is one of those reading experiences that illuminate its subject so clearly that the subject has a 'before' and 'after' in the consciousness.
From a scholarly perspective, Sarris' method is outrageous - the dividing of film directors into wacky categories like 'Less than meets the eye' and 'Strained seriousness' - but in spite of just a few judgments that, in the course of time have been shown to be dubiou
Ian  McLatchie
Along with the Truffaut Hitchcock interviews, still my favorite book on film. Hardly a day goes by that I don't glance through a few director profiles or year-by-year lists of American movies. Indsipensible. I haven't found Sarris as trustworthy a critic in recent years, but always value what he has to say. Sad to hear he's been let go by the New York Observer.
Fascinating. A snapshot in time yet still relevant. The most readable overview of directors - didactic but full of humour. When you read other 1960s film criticism this stands as a beacon. Remarkable how relevant it still is - and so much more illuminating and entertaining as a canon to be aware of than the slipshod likes of "1001 films to see before you die".
Tom Stamper
The foremost American proponent of the auteur theory, Sarris has a lot to say about which directors are over-rated and under-rated. His overall view, shared by Manny Farber, that genre films are ignored in favor of forgettable prestige movies resonated with me. I can appreciate any critic that sees Howard Hawks in the upper echelon of film makers.
The most efficient and learned book on film I've ever read, Sarris' supreme intellect shines through this collection of fiercely focused evaluations of American film's most iconic directors.
Paul Secor
This was my bible when I was young and beginning to realize what films were about and what they could be. Andrew Sarris is my favorite film critic. 'Nuff said.
Jun 19, 2013 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: film
Best book ever written! No other piece of writing has had such a profound impact on my life.
Indispensable, and a testament to Sarris's establishment of a robust, eloquent and organic approach to auteur theory in the U.S. After spending time in Paris with the Cahiers crowd, Sarris trained his intellect on achievements of hundreds of directors' ouevres back in the states. The rather pithy -- and often slyly hilarious -- synopses of directors' careers here are nuanced, and burst with insight. And it quickly becomes apparent just how many films, and how much dedication Sarris must have inv ...more
Keith Brinkmann
It's a good book for info on the "Pantheon" directors
and for info on lesser known films,
but his criticisms are usually based on "decency"
and the necessity for films to directly address issues
and ideas...
This is evidenced in his criticism of David Lean.
In fact, I enjoy a lot of his reasoning for praising directors, but when it comes to critiques, I feel like I am turned off by his tone.
I love the films he loves, but I also love the films he hates--
Lawrence of Arabia is one of my favori
Dan Domanski
In this book, Andrew Sarris operates under the simple premise that a film's primary author is its director. With this premise in mind, he searches out the directors of the American cinema--past and present--and finds the great ones, the really good ones, the overrated, etc. His writing is very accessible, and if you're a film buff you'll want to watch many of these movies you've never seen (and rewatch the ones you love). I also love his response to Pauline Kael!
Alan Keep
This is almost a little redundant considering how personal Sarris probably considered his ratings but the sort of confusion of quality as a director with distaste for the directors subjects or style is like very obvious and strangely contradicts his own supposed anti-moralism. The section on Ida Lupino and the general references to feminism as something to positively contrast directors against also just made me ill. Historically important and definitely a good source for neglected genre director ...more
Strong opinions (many of which I disagreed with), interesting organization--all major directors fit into various categories like "Expressive Esoterica" or "Less Than Meets the Eye"--a thought-provoking read
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Most famous for his 1962 essay "Notes on the Auteur theory" which popularized this film criticism technique in America. He wrote for the Village Voice criticing films and literature before bringing the Auteur theory from France to America and employing it in analysis of Hitchcock's film Psycho.
He wrote for The New York Observer until 2009 and was a professor at his alma mater, Columbia University
More about Andrew Sarris...

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