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Customer Review

on 30 July 1999
Auteur criticism is, in my opinion, a profoundly flawed theory of cinema that nonetheless was instrumental in emphasising the important role the director. Anyone not in the grip of a theory and aware of the myriad of factors that goes into the making of a good film has to realize that a vast array of factors goes into the final product. Only in rare instances can a film be said to be the expression of the will of the director and treated as such. Frequently a film can be carried not by the director, but by the cinematographer, the editor, the actors, or the screenwriter (anyone who has read the original screenplay of CITIZEN KANE can enjoy a graphic instance of the role a good screenplay can play in the production of a masterpiece).
Having pointed that out, Sarris did help America take directors more seriously than they had ever been taken before, and for that he must be applauded. That took many took the director to be the only game in town doesn't undercut the value of this book
Stepping off my soapbox, let me just say how much fun this book is. It is great fun to argue with Sarris about which directors he places in the Pantheon (the best of the best of the directors to have worked in the U.S.) and which he leaves out. It would be wonderful if he were to turn his attention to producing an updated version of the book, extending into the current decade. I would be interested to see to what extent he revised the Pantheon, to see where he placed Coppola, Scorsese, Sayles, and Spielberg.
Recommended to anyone with a more-than-casual interest in American cinema.
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