Hollywood Mavericks

Produced by Florence Dauman for the American Film Institute, this is a watchable if often predictable documentary about Hollywood directors who have tended (to varying degrees) to go against the systeman honor roll that includes, among others, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, John Cassavetes, Francis Coppola, John Ford, Samuel Fuller, D.W. Griffith, Dennis Hopper, David Lynch, Sam Peckinpah, Alan Rudolph, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Josef von Sternberg, Erich von Stroheim, King Vidor, and Orson Welles. Most of these men (no lady mavericks like Ida Lupino, Barbara Loden, and Elaine May need apply) are articulate, and so much of what they have to say about themselves and each other is interesting, if not always accurate (e.g., Scorsese’s claim that Stroheim forced his extras to wear special underwear is a studio-produced legend; Sternberg’s claim that everything except the sea in his remarkable The Saga of Anatahan is artificial is contradicted by that film’s powerful use of newsreel footage). Some of the clips are too brief to leave lasting impressions, and a commentary about Altman’s innovative methods of sound recording unfortunately accompanies a clip from M*A*S*H, made four years before he introduced those methods in California Split. But this is still basically good, instructive funmuch of it about directors and films that deserve wider attention. (JR)

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