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April 21, 2010


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I do this shit, too, though I don't currently have the space to go full on. My "Filmmakers" shelves (that's what I call it, anyway -- it sounds more classy, I think) can't fit everyone who deserves to be there. Plus, outside of that, I don't do alphabetical, but rather break things up into genre. There are several benefits to that, but among the drawbacks are splitting up filmmakers who've worked in several genres whose films I'd like to keep together, and the fact that some genres are sort of nebulous.

Also, is that the silent FANTOMAS on your shelf, or is there another version I should know about? Of course, I haven't seen ANY version of FANTOMAS, but having recently read the first book, I'd like to see what I can.

Noel Murray

If I have more than three movies by a director, they get their own section. The rest of my discs are divided by genre or country.

Can't do shelves though, man. No space. Got 'em in individual plastic sleeves, in a big filing cabinet.

Glenn Kenny

Yeah, that is the silent "Fantomas," an early Flicker Alley release and a really wonderful thing. I would love to catch up someday with the '60s Fantomas films with Jean Marais in the title role. And the Fantomas movie for French TV directed by Jean-Luis Buñuel, whose dad adored (and why wouldn't he) the silent version.

Tom Russell

We have three sections: the auteurs shelf (which also contains animation, silents, and television, all squeezed together on the very bottom of the shelf), the general shelf (for everything else) and the floor between the two shelves (for everything that doesn't fit on the general shelf). Generally, a space on the auteur shelf is reserved for any director for which we own more than two DVDs: Andersons (Wes and P.T., the latter complete-so-far), Altman, Brad Bird[*], Coppola (F.F.), DePalma, Eastwood, Fassbinder, Fincher, Ford, Frears, Hawks[**], Kubrick, Kurosawa, Leone, McTiernan, Minelli, Ozu, Ritchie[***], Schrader, Scorsese, Scott (Ridley, and hot damn, isn't THE DUELLISTS something spectacular?), Spielberg, Tarantino, Truffaut, and Yates (Peter, of THE HOT ROCK, BULLITT, BREAKING AWAY, EDDIE COYLE, and MOTHER, JUGS, AND SPEED).

And I know how that looks-- lot of movie brat stuff, not a whole lot of foreign or classics. But, again, that's just the shelf with directors with two or more DVDs. I have a Godard, just not two of them, a Lean, a delTormo, an Argento, a Griffith (who, like Bowers and Chaplin, gets a spot on the Silents part of the Auteurs shelf), a Soderbergh, a Visconti, a MacKendrick, a Coens, a Russell (David O., not, um... yeah). I have a 21-film Hitchcock box set (one of those cheap-o fly-by-night bargain-bin companies) but am currently waffling as to whether that counts as more than one DVD for my purposes.

[*-- Though Mr. Bird's work is filed next to the other animated films at the bottom of this shelf.]
[**-- With apologies to Mr. Nyby.]
[***-- My wife likes the first two Ritchie films, so we own them, and I put them on the Auteurs shelf under protest.]


No Panic Room? 'Cmon Glenn ! It's a wothy addition to the FIncher canon, especially if you love your claustrophobic thrillers like I do.

Glenn Kenny

On the one hand, Jordan, you are correct. And on the other, I am not made of money. I'll hold out for the Blu-ray and even then see if I can score a review copy.

Tom Russell

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: I can't believe there's an three-disc set-- one disc for the film, two for making-of featurettes-- of PANIC ROOM.

Tom Russell

(Oh, and sorry for the multiple postings, but I can't believe I forgot Welles on my list of People-On-My-Auteurs-Shelf).


I forgot: I also have the Criterion shelf, which is jam-packed to overflowing, and which also plays merry hell with my "Filmmakers" shelf. I have Welles broken up onto the "Filmmakers" shelf (KANE, TOUCH OF EVIL, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI and, in keeping with the spirit, if not the letter, of the law, IT'S ALL TRUE) and the Criterion shelf (MR. ARKADIN, F FOR FAKE). And of course THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST is up there with the Criterions, while all other Scorsese, which is most of the rest of his filmography, is over with the "Filmmakers". See also Truffaut. Since I only have one non-Criterion Bresson (THE DEVIL, PROBABLY) and one non-Criterion Fellini (LA DOLCE VITA), I put those with the Criterions, but it just doesn't look right. Same with Powell/Pressburger. It's a mess, really, is what I'm saying.

PS - Glenn, I'm surprised to see that you only have two Ashby films, and that one of them isn't THE LAST DETAIL.

PPS - A friend of mine was just telling me I needed to see WAGON MASTER.

don r. lewis

I would argue (and have in my thesis) that "Ashby's" SHAMPOO is more Warren Beatty's SHAMPOO and Ashby was a hired hand. Although it strangely fits perfectly into his milieu which may explain why I cannot finish my thesis.


Wait. Richard Fleischer is an auteur? I'm confused.


So it's alphabetical by director but the directors' films aren't organized in any particular order after that? Weird.


I just go alphabetical all the way. Don't have to stop and think "Do I have THE SEARCHERS under Ford, or Westerns, or 50s films, or Hank Worden's Greatest Roles?" (Actually, I have it in the Ford/Wayne box set, and box sets are a whole 'nother issue.)


But, jbryant, say you're in the mood for a horror film, or a crime film, or a Western. If you have those DVDs separated out, you don't have to scan your whole collection until you find the one you want, but rather only that genre's shelf(ves). It's a time saver, I wanna tell ya.

Tom Russell

Eyjafjallajokull-- I think so, yes.

I'm not familiar enough with Fleischer's work to give any kind of really stirring articulate defense pointing out trademarks and stylistic reoccurences, but I can say that one of the pleasures of auteurism is discussing a filmmaker's works in the context of each other, and given his long career in which he returned to multiple genres, his work gives us ample opportunities to indulge: compare, for example, his two barbarian fantasy films, his three serial killer films, his forays into science fiction.

I think a number of his films made use of at-the-time cutting-edge effects-- from the fantastic elements of Fantastic Voyage to the less-than-fantastic effects in Amityville 3-D. Someone with more time and knowledge than I might put forth that coming from a family of animators he was more in-tune with the technical as opposed to the human side of filmmaking. (Again, I'm being careful not to make that assertion myself.)

I will say that if part of auteurism is being able to tell "who the devil made it", well, it does not surprise me that the rather bloated Barabbas, Dr. Dolittle, and Tora! were all made by the same hand. (Though I will say that I absolutely adore Dolittle, perhaps against my better judgement.)


So that means being an auteur is not a title of prestige, but merely the result of having made enough movies for somebody to compare.

Tom Russell

I think it's a little of both, actually. When we say that a director is an auteur, we're saying that they're one of, if not the, primary creative force behind their films and that there are certain similarities-- thematic, formal, stylistic, moralistic, whatever-- that mark the film as their films.

And if it's an auteur worth talking about, generally we do so because we like their films, but I wouldn't say that someone is not an auteur if they make shitty films. I might not like most of M. Night Shyamalan's work, or Kevin Smith's, but I can certainly see how their work is for the most part indelibly theirs.

Glenn Kenny

@Eyjafjallajökull: Well, Fleischer's an auteur IN MY HOUSE. Probably in Dave Kehr's, too. Although a lot of the films I have of his are in slipcases, or part of box sets. We have a separate Disney shelf, which is where "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" is. I considered moving it so "These Thousand Hills" wouldn't be lonesome.

My categorization method has its quirks. Richard Linklater, for instance, is absolutely an auteur, but his films are filed on the general shelf, by title, because I witnessed him being a real asshole to my former boss, who's also a friend of mine. That'll teach him.

Claire K.

The system in the Kenny Household on the auteur shelves is alphabetical by director, and then the directors' films in chronological order.

Glenn Kenny

It IS? I'd better get back to work, I think I screwed that up when I was integrating the Blu-rays...


I recall Francis Coppola once suggesting that he understood the definition of an auteur to be a director who also writes his films.

And I've heard Steven Spielberg categorically deny the concept of auteurism, saying that movies are 100% collaborative.

I would suggest 99% of directors are conductors, but only a few can truly lay claim to be composers. And I think the concept of auteurism is probably more important to critics than it is to filmmakers.

Glenn Kenny

Why am I thinking of Warren Oates drawling "Lighten up, Francis," right about now?...

Tom Russell

"Well, Fleischer's an auteur IN MY HOUSE."

Much more succinct. :-)

And, Eyjafjallajokull-- well, look, the concept of auteurism isn't that the director is the only creator of a given film, or that film isn't a collaborative medium. The concept of the auteur is that directors matter, that it's worth seeing a film for reasons beyond "I like this actor or actress who is in it".

IIRC-- and, I'm no expert, so if I'm talking out of my hat here, please, everyone feel free to tell me so-- Truffaut formulated his "theory of authors" in response to what he termed the Tradition of Quality-- basically, the technically-competent-but-lifeless "well-made" film. Kinda like the Oscar-bait Prestige Pictures we have today. Auteurism argues for directors who deviate from the norm, and for directors who express themselves through the language of cinema rather than the words on the page. A great director can make a great film out of the shittiest, silliest script, whereas a great script in the hands of a hack will often result in hackwork.

That said, I think the concept of auteurism is more mutable than just being a director's thing. I interpret it as being as simple as, it's worth following someone's work for the things that make them distinctive, and that it's possible for a person to express themselves personally in an inherently collaborative medium. In that regard, an editor can be an auteur, such as the legendary Rosenblum or the recently-departed Dede Allen, a cinematographer, like the tenacious Wexler, or a screenwriter, such as Paddy Chayefsky.


Are we really going to debate the auteurist theory based on how Glenn organizes his DVD collection?


Curious. Would Paddy Chayevsky be considered an auteur? His scripts couldn't be altered. Or what about Jerry Bruckheimer on the producer end -- his work seems to fit a pretty cohesive aesthetic/concept?...


I'd say a case could be made for Chayefsky, sure. Why not?


Wait, no, I already questioned why this discussion was happening. Forget I said anything.

Jason M.

@bill- Yes. Yes we are.

Tom Russell

"Would Paddy Chayevsky be considered an auteur?"

Well, that's kinda what I said. You always know when something you're watching has been written by Chayefsky, and it's worth watching movies for his scripts.

Well, except for ALTERED STATES, in which Ken Russell, by contract, could not and did not alter Chayefsky's words but the meaning of them by having the dialogue delivered in high-speed mumbles.


I found the system that works best for me is by continent first, then director's family name within continent, THEN chronological by director. I mean, really, doesn't it make more sense for Edward Yang to be next to Wong Kar-Wai rather than William Wyler?

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