Directed by Allen Smithee

By Jeremy Braddock; Stephen Hock | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Artificial Auteurism and the Political
Economy of the Allen Smithee Case

Craig Saper

In a New York Times Magazine article on the increasing importance of script doctors for Hollywood movies, the editors include a parodic movie poster to capture the odd jumble of talents lumped together in contemporary productions.1 The poster advertises a movie called Baseball Commandos starring an absurd array of actors from Bruce Willis to Roseanne. The stars, rendered by cartoon-like drawings, are shown parachuting into a baseball park. In the style of a movie poster, the bottom of the illustration presents a long list of writers as well as actors, producers, and, last, the director. In the description of the corresponding fictional movie, the New York Times reporter, Jaime Wolf, describes how a hypothetical producer would hire nearly ten different writers to bring the script to fruition with “punched-up jokes,” heightened action sequences, and other specialized aspects of a script. Each script doctor contributes her or his specific expertise. The target of the parody is Hollywood’s current conveyor-belt approach to filmmaking. The poster reinforces the joke by including these script doctors’ names as the writers, as if the script had been put together by a committee with no single author or singular authorial voice.

Oddly, the poster includes as director a name not found elsewhere in Wolf’s article. To make sure that the reader does not miss the point, the director’s name is placed at the end of the list of the film’s participants and is further set off from the absurdly long list of scriptwriters by being

-29-

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