Alan Smithee is the worst film-maker who ever stepped into Hollywood. The man has directed some of the most disappointing movies ever made, and was at his high during the second half of the 20th century. Only thing, he isn’t real. As you may have guessed from the title of this article, Alan Smithee, the person, never existed. His name was a pseudonym used by directors who didn’t wish to be associated with films that they were a part of. Smithee’s wasn’t the only fake name that was used, by the way. Sam Lowry, Mary Ann Bernard, and Peter Andrews were pseudonyms used by film-maker Steven Soderbergh alone (although he used them for purposes other than disowning his pictures, and not necessarily in the director’s field). Film wasn’t the only creative medium that these were used for either. Paul Procopolis, for example, was the name used by record labels to sell various artists’ compilation pieces under one name.
Now this brings up an interesting question: why do directors disown their own films? Well, like the popular incident with ‘Fantastic Four’ (2015), which was disowned by director Josh Trank (who didn’t use a pseudonym as the practice had pretty much died by then) through a tweet he posted, the studio may interfere with the views of the film-maker and restrict their creative freedom, causing confusion and leading to the release of a film contrived and directionless. According to the Director’s Guild of America, such casting aside can only be done if the filmmaker in question proves that their artistic vision was disregarded or misused. The list below sheds light on some of the directors who rejected their films using fake names, and explains the reasons as to why they might have done so. After all, no one sets out to make a bad movie.
12. Michael Mann
- Pseudonym: Alan Smithee
- Film: Heat (1995)
Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’ is one of the best crime films ever made as well as one of the greatest movies of all time, but only in its theatrical version. When the film was to be shown on airlines and television channels, it had to be edited so that the viewing demographic could be considerably increased and no one would feel insulted or offended by the content. Mann wasn’t too pleased with the idea, and therefore asked to have his name removed from these versions, as he did not wish to be associated with them. Most of the time, such edits ruin what the director had in mind, and make his or her perspective or vision harder to understand. It acts as a block that doesn’t allow freedom of expression, and the final product feels incomplete. In the case of ‘Heat’, a near perfect film, removing scenes or lines of dialogue from it would only have reduced the picture’s overall quality.
11. Andy House