Encounters with Filmmakers: Eight Career Studies

Encounters with Filmmakers: Eight Career Studies

Encounters with Filmmakers: Eight Career Studies

Encounters with Filmmakers: Eight Career Studies

Synopsis

This aptly titled study of the careers of eight prominent Hollywood directors is based on personal acquaintance and interviews conducted over a period of several years as well as on scholarly research. In each case, Tuska presents a study of the artist in terms of his creations, surrounding the chronology of his work in film with an appraisal of it and an informal portrait. The directors were chosen because their careers parallel the development and growth of the motion picture industry. Detailed filmographies, a bibliography, and index complete the work, and a photo section provides a graphic dimension to the "portraits."

Excerpt

There are eight career studies in this book. Accordingly, I ought best to define what a career study is and what it is not. It is not just an interview; nor is it an attempt at full-scale biography. It lies between these extremes. Ideally, it is a portrait of an artist in terms of his creations. It does not propose to present the whole man. The field of vision is too circumscribed for that. Yet it does make an effort to evoke his personality. Because I knew each of these eight directors and in most cases visited with each over a period of years, I was able to surround the chronology and appraisal of his work in film with an informal portrait.

I have chosen these particular eight directors because, through their careers, I can also address a dimension outside of their lives and films, namely the development and growth of the motion picture industry itself. For example, H. Bruce Humberstone has been included because he was for most of his career a contract director at Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. He began at Fox in the "B" unit and worked his way up to directing "A" pictures with some of the studio's most famous and popular contract players. Yet, what results he was able to achieve were the consequence of having to contend not only with problems on the set or with a script, but also making a film so that it suited both the individual producer and Darryl F. Zanuck, who was at the time head of production.

The auteur theory of film direction originated among French critics and during the 'Sixties and 'Seventies enjoyed a certain vogue among American critics. In brief, this theory equates what a film director does with what a novelist does, viewing him as the principal agent and prime mover behind an artistic creation. This entire concept simply cannot apply when it comes to a contract director. Beyond the studio chief, the head of production, and the producer, there may also have been an executive producer, and an associate producer, and beyond . . .

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