8 Films Disowned By Their Directors Before They Were Released

That Alan Smithee's Rotten Tomatoes average is absolutely atrocious...

Keanu Reeves Exposed

In the age of Sharknado and Movie 43, it might seem strange to some that a film director might want to distance themselves from a theatrical disaster and miss out on all that lucrative "so bad it's good" money. Yet in the early days of cinema, directors had to build their entire careers on churning out successful, profitable films one after another in quick succession.

Back then, you didn't get to mess up as many films as directors like M Night Shyamalan have and still keep your job. If you screwed up too much, your name and your entire career would be cast aside for the next hottest talent. Early Hollywood was a cutthroat business, and very few directors managed to build a career out of purposefully producing terrible films.

But before we invented this internet-thing, people could just straight up lie and get away with it. As a result of this loophole, the pseudonym Allen Smithee was created by the Directors Guild of America. Make a rubbish film? No worries! Just pretend it never happened and have another crack at the whole film-making malarkey instead mate.

That isn't to say directors don't still engage in the practice of disowning their films. Of course nowadays discrediting your own work is more of a spiteful, power move rather than a crafty one. Whether you like it or not that stuff is still gonna show up on your IMDb - and on lists like this one...

8. Death Of A Gunfighter (1969)

Keanu Reeves Exposed
Universal Pictures

Death of a Gunfighter, unlike most of the films on this list, has the rare distinction of not being completely awful. It's garnered decent reviews and, due to its place in film history, has a small cult following.

The film itself is actually what birthed the Alan Smithee pseudonym, as the original director Robert Totten (of Gunsmoke fame) clashed with the film's star, Richard Widmark, and was dropped by the studio. He was then replaced by Don Siegel, director of Dirty Harry, who completed filming.

Once the film was completed Siegel protested his own directors credit, attributing too much of the work to Totten. With neither director wanting to take credit, the Director's Guild of America invented the pseudonym "Allen Smithee", and the rest is history.

The studio behind the film neglected to inform the press or reviewers of this fact however, so once the film was released to the public people began raving about this new up-and-comer. Robert Ebert himself said in his 3.5/4 review of the film that "director Allen Smithee, a name I'm not familiar with, allows his story to unfold naturally."


Lewis Parker hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would tell you to follow him on Twitter @LPCantLose, and to make sure you stay hydrated.