Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema

Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema

Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema

Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema


"This new edition of Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinemas is a revised, updated, and expanded version of the previous edition. Gene D. Phillips focuses on fourteen American and British directors to tell the story of the history of cinema from the days of silent movies to the advent of sound, color, and widescreen. Phillips has chosen those moviemakers who have made enduring works that still appeal to filmgoers today, as attested by their availability on television and on videocassette. Moreover, Phillips seeks to represent the various trends in filmmaking that have evolved over the years, such as American film noir, which is included in the discussion of Alfred Hitchcock's films, and British social realism, which is included in the discussion of Bryan Forbes's films." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


"Hollywood's like Egypt," the late producer David O. Selznick once remarked, "full of crumbled pyramids. It will just keep crumbling until finally the wind blows the last studio prop across the sands. … There might have been good movies if there had been no movie industry. Hollywood might have become the center of a new human expression if it hadn't been grabbed by a little group of bookkeepers and turned into a junk industry."

These are bitter words indeed to come from the man responsible for producing films like Gone with the Wind. Nonetheless, Selznick has accurately expressed the perennial problem that has vexed motion picture makers since the movies developed from their humble beginnings into a full-scale industry: the problem of trying to make motion pictures that are personal, unified works of art which a director can truly call his own, despite the fact that he or she is working in a complicated commercial industry. Yet many a film maker has succeeded in this hazardous enterprise, as the following chapters aim to show.

Indeed, the premise of this book is precisely that the director alone can confer artistic unity on a motion picture. The director, after all, is the single controlling influence during the production of a motion picture; hence it is up to him to blend all of the varied contributions of cast and crew into a unified whole. Consequently, the director, more than anyone else involved in the making of a movie, is the one who leaves his personal stamp on the finished product.

Andrew Sarris, one of the most articulate champions of the film director's vital role in the movie making process, has written, "Only the director can provide a unity of style out of all the diverse ingredients at his disposal. The script writer will find his words chopped up into shots. The actor who performs continuously on the stage is recorded intermittently on the set, where his part is slowly eroded out of sequence into little bits and pieces." Only the director, then, can create a unified work of art out of the corporate effort that characterizes the making of a motion picture. In describing the central role of the director in the production of a movie, another critic has said that the director's function is that of quarterback, orchestra leader, trail boss, company commander, and, at times, lion tamer.

When the role of the director is viewed in this fashion, moreover, as the guiding light of film production, it is clear that he is the true author of a film in much the same way that a writer is the author of a novel. A film director who merely puts together a motion picture as if he were a foreman on an assembly line would, of course, not be considered the author of a film that he has directed, and there are many such directors in the history of cinema.

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