With any luck, Andrew Sarris, who passed away yesterday at the age of 83, will now assume his rightful and undisputed place in the critical pantheon as the patron saint of the film buff/movie nerd/pop-culture junkie.
A thoughtful and erudite film critic whose career spanned over 50 years — which he described as “a lifetime in the darkness” — Sarris is probably best known for his landmark 1968 book The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968. In it, he articulated his version of auteurist film criticism. Adapted from French film critics like Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, this theory was grounded in the belief that a film’s director was its chief creative force. In his brilliant introduction to The American Cinema, titled “Toward a Theory of Film History,” Sarris argued: