Alexander Mackendrick (1912–1993) occupies a unique position in film history. After distinguishing himself as a director of nine films, Mackendrick made a midcareer move into teaching filmmaking, becoming Dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of the Arts. His legion of devoted students testify to his pervasive influence on recent generations of filmmakers. American-born but Scottish-bred, Mackendrick had a talent for bridging barriers and linking seemingly diverse strands of culture. This complete retrospective ranges from his madcap Ealing comedies to his charming childhood adventures, with intermittent stops for slashingly modern social commentary, exemplified by Sweet Smell of Success (1957). The retrospective coincides with the publication of Alexander Mackendrick: On Film-making (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a compilation of Mackendrick’s insightful essays on the art of making movies, edited by Paul Cronin. Hilary Mackendrick introduces the September 29 screenings of Whisky Galore! (1949) and Sweet Smell of Success, and a panel discussion about the director’s work both as an auteur and an academic takes place on September 30.
Organized by Charles Silver, Associate Curator, Department of Film and Media.