Conspiracy Theory – Alan Smithee, the worst director in Hollywood

2 min read

So you’ve directed a film. Unfortunately, your script was written by a baboon on heat, and the production crew happens to be relatives of Uwe Boll. In short, your film stinks worse than a dead hooker outside of Ben Affleck’s trailer. Naturally, you don’t want anyone to know that you made this film, so you’re going to need a pseudonym.

And thankfully, there’s one guy in Hollywood that every dissatisfied director pretends to be, when releasing a movie. Say hello to Alan Smithee folks, a man responsible for more dysfunctional box office bombs than Oscar Schindler.

And this is all true.

The idea of crediting a bad movie to “Alan Smithee”, first originated in 1969, when Don Siegel and Robert Totten decided that nobody should know that they co-directed Death of a gunfighter. And the funny thing is, is that the western they created wasn’t badly received at all, and critics were actually happy with the work that “Mr Smithee” had produced. But thanks to the fact that Totten didn’t want his name replacing that of Siegel who had left due to clashes with the stars of the film, the Director’s Guild of America was forced to create the fake identity, which was unheard of before 1969.

From then on, the name surfaced over the years more frequently, for films such as Jud Taylor’s City in Fear, Kevin Yahgher’s Hellraiser 3 and Twilight Zone the Movie. Over the years that followed, the legend of Alan Smithee became well known, but was generally not discussed in Hollywood, and became a gentlemen’s secret.

The last film to use the name of Smithee was Woman Wanted, a film by none other than 24’s Kiefer Sutherland. Officially discontinued in 2000 after that film, the name lives on however, in music videos, comic books and television shows.

While everything it’s attached to may not be that bad, rest assured, the symbol of Alan Smithee is still a sign of bad quality and excremental production values.

Last Updated: February 1, 2013

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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