These films are essential but unexamined. We’ve either forgotten about them, they haven’t popped up on our radar, or we dismissed them out of hand.
- Auteurism gets a bad rap because participants are sometimes ridiculed for their commonalities, which they may or may not have created. An auteurist is like a political liberal: you can screw it up and look like an ass, but the concept in itself is worthwhile and, done right, can lead to benefits which transcend its libelous opponents’ inability (or unwillingness) to deal. An intelligent critic with auteurist inclinations exists in a constant state of (a) exploration – what some have designated the “Daniel Boone” instinct, always striking out for more elbow room, and (b) renegotiation, refusing to let personal opinions calcify into dogma. If I have failed in the above paragraph to make the concept more scalable, Dan Sallitt succeeds, here.
- I’m not above non-directorial assets in films. The best example I can come up with is Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun (1950). Some people think I’m off my medication when I say that her performance, which is as heartbreakingly sincere as it is thoroughly outsized and overdone, is one of the greatest performances the cinema has ever seen, but in this instance, I am using the example to illustrate my willingness to leave my auteurist armband at home from time to time. The film itself isn’t really very good – there isn’t anything about the direction that compels me to investigate George Sidney further. (This is not an outright dismissal – I have encountered Sidney fans.)