In this wonderfully witty and wide-ranging manifesto, noted book and movie critic David Kipen takes dead aim at that old film school canard, the auteur theory, and blows it sky-high with a theory of his own that he supports with a rollicking tour through movie history.
Thanks to the auteurists, everyone nowadays credits the director with being the creative genius behind every movie. But, in what may be the first significant counter-theory to the notion invented by legendary critics Andrew Sarris, François Truffaut, and others, Kipen says, "Au contraire."
Instead, inspired by "the mother tongue of America's first screenwriters," he uses the Yiddish word for writer to coin The Schreiber Theory, which decrees that knowing who wrote a film is often a far better-and far more consistent-guide to whether it was any good.
Kipen's new heresy topples the old orthodoxy by studying the careers of the early writers who came to Hollywood from Broadway and the modern scriptwriters coming out of TV. Most usefully, the second half of the book is a who's who of screenwriters past and present, with entries on over 40 of Hollywood's most significant schreibers.
There's plenty of film-world gossip along the way, as well as smart discussion of how the auteur theory took hold and what some other opponents-such as Pauline Kael-had to say about it. From the early days-when Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway labored in Hollywood-to today, when international sales are turning scripts into pidgin affairs, it's a clever and savvy consideration of movie-making from a whole new perspective.
David Kipen is the former editor of Buzz Magazine and has written about movies for The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Boxoffice, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Los Angeles Times. He is currently the book critic for San Francisco Chronicle, as well as a weekly commentator on NPR's Day to Day program and on KCRW-FM in southern California.
About David KipenSee more books from this Author
A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.Feb 13 2013 | Read Full Review of The Schreiber Theory: A Radic...
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