Alan Smithee Noun, e.g., Alan Smithee is credited with directing the big budget movie “Dune” (1984).
Definition: A pseudonym that the Directors Guild of America permits its members to use when their creative visions have been compromised by producers, stars or studios.
History: Reviewing “Death of a Gunfighter” (1969), Roger Ebert wrote of its star: “This is one of Richard Widmark's best, most fully realized performances. It's really his movie.” Ebert little knew how right he was. Alan Smithee, the film’s credited director, was a pseudonym invented by the Directors Guild after both Robert Totten, director of the movie until he was booted by Widmark, and Don Siegel, Widmark's choice to replace Totten, insisted the movie really was Richard Widmark’s.
Why select the name Alan Smithee? Given the various accounts, the best answer seems to be: “You had to have been there.” What's important is that dozens of films and TV productions have since been credited to director Alan Smithee or Allen Smithee.
Judging by Smithee's body of work, one must question the Directors Guild’s claim that it permits use of the pseudonym only when a director’s artistic vision is compromised. Chances are more than compromised artistic vision made directors want to renounce credit for films like “The Shrimp on the Barbie” (1990), “Bloodsucking Pharoahs in Pittsburgh” (1991), and “Hellraiser IV” (1996).