'Alan Smithee' is a common pseudonym for directors whose film was clearly taken away from her/him and recut heavily against her/his wishes in ways that completely altered the film.
The Directors Guild contract generally does not permit a director to remove her/his name from films. The Directors Guild has been striving for decades to establish the director as the "author" of a film, and part of getting the credit for the successes is taking the blame for the failures. The only exceptions they make are cases in which a film was clearly taken away from a director and recut heavily against her/his wishes in ways that completely altered the film. Directors are required to appeal to the Guild in such cases. If the appeal is successful, their name is replaced by Alan Smithee. So if you notice a film directed by Alan Smithee, it is certain it is not what its director intended, and likely that it is not any good.
Born in 1967, the same year he directed his first picture, Death of a Gunfighter (1969). Restricted by Directors Guild of America rules to certain "genres" of film, i.e., those on which the other directors have functioned, but from which they wish to be disassociated. Gained strong reviews for his initial film: "Sharply directed by Allen Smithee who has an adroit facility for scanning faces and extracting sharp background detail", (New York Times); "Smithee's direction keeps the action taut and he draws convincing portrayals from the supporting cast", (Variety). His oeuvre extends over a wide range of topics and styles, usually with only one unifying factor between projects: the refusal of other directors to put their name to the work. Although idle speculation has given birth to the rumor that his stage name derives from an anagram of "The Alias Men", in actuality it grew out of a decision that this particular stage name should be so individual that no other person would ever be likely to appear whose name matched that of Smithee. Although Smith, then Smithe, were considered, eventually it was decided that a second "e" would guarantee this individuality, and Smithee has functioned under this name ever since. Although his first name is occasionally misspelled "Allen", the name Alan Smithee has come to represent a unique vision in American film.IMDb Mini Biography By: George Spelvin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Alan Smithee has no distinguishable style, nor is it usually apparent what director he is taking the credit for.
The DGA decided that the name got so much exposure from the film An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997) that it was no longer an effective alias. The film Supernova (2000/I) was the first "post-Smithee" film; Smithee's successor is as yet unclear, but one possibility from this film is "Thomas Lee.".
The name given by directors who disown their films for any reason.
"Alan Smithee" is an anagram for "The Alias Men"
Directors are still allowed to use other pseudonyms, as are authors, but that pseudonym, such as those used by Nathan Juran and David DeCoteau, are theirs, and a method of detachment rather than disownership.
The Alan Smithee escape nomenclature can and has also been used by screenwriters and scenarists. It's true that it began being used by directors who did not want their mangled work identified as theirs but writers quickly began to catch on. Those not intimately familiar with the production process, especially so with big companies, might not quite understand this. However if an inept person in a supervisory position (this happens too often) moves in and re-cuts or re-writes leaving enough damage the professional will simply not want his name attached to the project.
When I refused to take directing credit for the film [Death of a Gunfighter], as did Bob Totten, the Directors' Guild made up a pseudonym for Totten and myself, 'Allen Smithee'. As the picture was well received, I told my young friends who wanted to be directors to change their name to Smithee and take credit for direction of the picture. I don't know if anyone did this. I still think under certain circumstances, they might have cracked the 'magic barrier' and become directors. - Don Siegel, "A Siegel Film", London: Faber and Faber, 1993 (320, 321).
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