Anthology Film Archives


March 20 – March 30

AUTEURS GONE WILD combs the filmographies of some of the towering filmmakers of classical Hollywood – Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, George Cukor, and others – to zero in on their most atypical works. The series highlights the bizarro, stereotype-busting, seemingly flukey projects in which these artists were afforded (or demanded) the freedom to work in unfamiliar genres, to flex new stylistic muscles, or to transgress conventional studio strictures. These Halley’s-comet films may not fit neatly into the rest of their bodies of work, but for precisely that reason they each represent a fascinating window into the creative sensibilities of their respective makers.

“If the Hollywood auteurs were the ghosts in the studio machine, what would they look like exorcised? Rather than author, the word ‘auteur’ might have referred to a kind of rhetorician working within genre codes that, once decoded, would only reveal his own commentary on them. But what would happen if this auteur cleared his throat, managed a sip of water, and tried speaking in his own tongue? Typically, the critics who had authored the auteur as a retroactive justification for their own generic interpretations would have to snub such attempts to break out of genre molds to go strange, personal places. For the irony is that these works, kind of laboratory experiments for directors to hone ideas and techniques for future work, would be too entrenched in personal idiosyncrasies to fit the personality of the rest of an auteur’s canon. ‘Arty junk,’ Harry Cohn called it. Rosetta stones of sorts, furtive masterpieces for sure, they’re the exceptions that prove the rule.

But wait, say readers full of sound and theory, isn’t ‘Auteurs Gone Wild’ both a tautology and a misnomer? If the auteur was someone whose spirit could be routed through demands of all different genres and still poke through, weren’t all auteurs ‘gone wild’? Wouldn’t all auteurist works mark a victory of spirit over content? Didn’t Hollywood offer America’s last institutionalized wilds? If so, then each of these movies is a portrait of an alternate history Hollywood would never heed.” –David Phelps

All film descriptions by series curator David Phelps.

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