The Elusive Auteur

The Question of Film Authorship Throughout the Age of Cinema

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About the Book

 The director’s authorial role in filmmaking—the extent to which a film reflects his or her individual style and creative vision—has been much debated among film critics and scholars for decades. Drawing on generations of criticism, this study describes how the designation “auteur” has gone from stylistic criterion to product label—in what has always been an essentially collaborative industry. Examining the controversy in regard to Hollywood directors, the author compares directors and would-be auteurs of the classic studio system with those of contemporary Hollywood and its new climate of cultural entrepreneurship.

About the Author(s)

Barrett Hodsdon has spent many years teaching, writing about and researching the film industry. In the 1970s he pioneered a film studies collection for the National Library of Australia. He has written a number of film journal articles covering aesthetics, genres, and documentary and domestic film culture issues. He lives in North Sydney, Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Barrett Hodsdon
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 340
Bibliographic Info: 48 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6873-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2788-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Notes on Terminology 7

Part I: Critical Origins

 1. Authorial Function and Historical Precedents 17

 2. Cahiers du Cinéma and Founding the Discourse of Auteur Criticism: Snapshots in Time 22

 3. Andrew Sarris and the Auteur ­Re-Evaluation of Hollywood 40

Part II: Auteur Concepts and Problematics

 4. Reconsidering the Underpinnings of Traditional Auteur Criticism 55

 5. Agency and Authorship: Forms of Mediation 75

 6. Extending the Lineages of Authorship: Art Cinema and the ­Avant-Garde 89

Part III: The Director in the Classic Hollywood System

 7. The Hierarchy of Directors and Work Relations 97

 8. Reconciling the Director with Creative Contributors 105

 9. Reformulating Authorial Presence: The Value of a Neoformalist Designation 116

10. Triumphs, Accommodations, Victims and Mavericks: 15 Examples 121

Part IV: Cinephilia Revisited

11. Cinephilia and Its Historical Trajectory 165

12. Recapturing the Sublime Moment: A Spectrum of Films 178

Part V: The Changing Face of Hollywood

and the Shifting Sands of Authorship Since the 1970s

13. From Vision to Branding 219

14. Contemporary Hollywood Directors and Auteur Slippage: Illustrating the New Breed of Auteurs 233

Part VI: Auteur Displacement in the Digital Age

15. The Inheritance from the Past 263

16. The Enclave of Art Cinema 271

17. Old Notions of Authorship Unhinged 279

18. Revamping Cinephilia in a Postmodern Climate 290

19. Implications of the Media Revolution 300

The Last Word 304

Chapter Notes 307

Bibliography 317

Index 321

Book Reviews & Awards

“one of the most rewarding books I’ve read this year…a labor of love…work of astute and careful scholarship”—Film International.