Alan Smithee lives: death and resurrection of the non

Once Smithee is invented, the syndicate begins to use him as a wild card to cases where the final product does not represent the vision of the director. In most cases, this translates into a production supervised by the studio or the producers with their backs turned to the guy or girl who yelled “Action!” on the plate. And we are not only talking about feature films, but also about television episodes or video clips. For example, Francis Lawrence, future director of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) or red sparrow (2018), went from signing Waiting for Tonight, Jennifer Lopez’s very danceable homage to Effect 2000. Meaning, J-Lo worked with Smithee on that music video. In the same way, there are filmmakers who do recognize the commercial cut of their film as their own, but not the censored remake that the studio prepares for broadcast on public television or on airplanes. Michael Mann has been Alan Smithee on two of these occasions: Heat (1995) and The dilemma (1999). Why would she want to see his name associated with non-violent, non-swearing versions of her baby?

The problem was that, by the mid-nineties, the pseudonym was already so vox populi that every person who took refuge in it was, in reality, sending a message. That is, being aware that the general public would immediately understand that something had gone wrong during the production of the film. Therefore, some studios dispensed with Smithee and began to create false identities ad hoc: Sam O. Brown—Blake Edwards—for screenplay for very hot city (1984), Jan Jensen —Paul Verhoeven— for the television version of showgirls (1995), etc

The great turning point came with the farce Burn Hollywood! (1997), whose intrahistory is so ironic that it would be said to be written by Alanis herself. Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas imagined the odyssey of a British director (played by Eric Idle) whose real name was Alan Smithee: what would this man do when, dissatisfied with his first Hollywood film, the union only let him sign with his real name. .. or with a pseudonym identical to your real name? Burn Hollywood! it was directed by Arthur Hiller, who later stated that Eszterhas had taken control of the final cut and therefore (ah-ha!) asked to sign on as Alan Smithee. real case or gimmick advertising to draw attention to a movie not too memorable? You choose.

After the insane promotional campaign for this meta-Smithee movie, both the studios and the syndicate felt the party was over. Supernova (2000) was the first more or less high-profile production that clearly opted for a name (Thomas Lee) invented for the occasion, something that did not seem to bother its real manager, Walter Hill. The guy ended up so fed up with fighting his superiors that, when push came to shove, he just wanted to wash his hands and forget that he ever got involved in that project. Since then, Smithee’s filmography has been getting thinner and thinner. whatAn accident called love (2015), David O. Russell’s famous “lost” film? It was released under the pseudonym Stephen Greene. whatGod’s daughter (2016), where Keanu Reeves met Ana de Armas? Its director is called Gee Malik Linton, but in the credits it says Declan Dale.

Alan Smithee lives: death and resurrection of the non-existent director with the most films in film history