When the auteur theory of film criticism made it to the U.S. from France during the 1960s, its chief American advocates were critics Andrew Sarris and Eugene Archer, and fledgling filmmaker-writer Peter Bogdanovich.Recently, Bogdanovich went back into his archive for interviews with 16 giants including Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Howard Hawks and Raoul Walsh for his new book, “Who the Devil Made It.” The L.A. County Museum salutes the interviewees and their chronicler with 16 films — one per filmmaker — starting tonight with a double bill of the seminal noir thrillers Joseph H. Lewis’ “Gun Crazy” and Edgar Ulmer’s “Detour.” Bogdanovich and Lewis will be present for the screening and a discussion to follow.
Auteurism remains a hot-button topic. However, few would deny the ascendancy and power of the film director in the Hollywood pantheon as a focus of critical attention and as media celebrity.
What sets Bogdanovich apart from the theory’s other advocates is that he actually sat down with the men who created the movies — mostly when they were at the very end of their careers. Just three of those profiled in the book are still alive, and only Sidney Lumet is still making films.
Classics and gems
The selections at LACMA include several classics and a few interesting rarities. Saturday’s program — an homage to Walsh and Alan Dwan — highlights silent screen queen Gloria Swanson with showings of “Sadie Thompson” and “Stage Struck.” Later in the series, there’s the English-language version of “The Blue Angel” and “Kiss Me Deadly,” with its original ending, not seen in the States for 40 years.
For further information on the series, which runs through May 27, call (213) 857-6010.