Bikini Car Wash: Directed by Alan Smithee

I’ve noticed several low quality movies (the kind you see late at night on USA Network) like “Critters 3” “Bikini Car Wash” “reform school girls” etc. list as the director “Alan Smithee”.

Is this some kind of running joke between low-grade film directors? My friend is convinced it’s the directorial equivilent of “John Doe”, when the films so bad you don’t want to take any credit for it. Could there be a REAL Alan Smithee, looked down upon by even the likes of Bert I. Gordon and Roger Corman?

All I got on my (admittadly brief) web search was a listing for “Meatballs 4”…

Adam “Inky” “I don’t actually watch movies like Bikini Car Wash,…Honest! What!? Quit looking at me like that!” Greene

Your friend is correct. If a director does not want his name associated with a movie, the name Alan Smithee is used. The movie DUNE was just on the Sci-Fi channel, and they show a 4 hour version that director David Lynch refused to sign off on, so the 4 hour version was directed by Alan Smithee, even though the 2 hour version that is available for rent or sale lists David Lynch as the director.

As mentioned earlier, Alan Smithee is a name that Hollywood puts on movies when the actual director renounces the film he has made, and refuses to have his name put on it.

However, the rules for using the name are a bit inconsistent. USUALLY a director is only allowed to renounce his fil, and use the Smithee alias, if he can legitimately argue that the finished product is NOT the film he made or wanted to make. That is, if a very ambitious, temperamental director makes a 3 hour film that he regards as his masterpiece, but the studio execs take it from him and edit out an hour of film… or force a re-shoot of the ending… or cut of funding before filming is complete… in ANY of those cases, a director can claim “this is NOT my movie any more.” In those cases, the studio is supposed to abide by his woishes, and put the name “Alan SMithee” as the director.

However, a director is NOT supposed to be able to renounce a film just because he realizes, too late, that the movie is a stinker! In the case you’ve described, “Bikini Car Wash” was obviously a stupid, trashy, expolitation film to begin with, and NO director could POSSIBLY have imagined it was ever going to be a work of art! I can’t believe for even a second that a director low and desperate enough to direct such a movie would hjave the pride or integrity to renounce it!

Is it possible that some movies are such obvious crap that a guy will direct them just for the paycheck (or the experience), but only if his name is never associated with the end product?

And lets not forget “Burn Hollywood Burn (An Alan Smithee Film)”. Its a Joe Eszterhas film that features Eric Idle as Alan Smithee. It supposedly pokes fun the “Alan Smithee” concept but from everything I’ve heard, is just as painful as a real Alan Smithee film.

Is that Curly I see showing?


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.

Some writers use a particular alias when they feel their work has been turned into a large pile doggie-doo. Harlan Ellison uses the name Cordwainer Bird when someone screws with his work.

The incredibly ironic thing about the movie ‘Burn Hollywood Burn’ is that, it was so awful (unintentionally) that the director didn’t want his name associated with it. So guess what?

Yep! A parody of the Alan Smithee idea ends up being directed by ‘Alan Smithee’ himself.

Bert I. Gordon! My hero!

Along with . . . (and now I AM ashamed to admit it, but he hired a friend of mine for a couple of his movies) . . . Andy Sidaris.

your humble TubaDiva
“I curse the day Sandy Frank was born!”

Bert I. Gordon–B.I.G. I’ve wondered–Is that his real name? Not that it’s hard to believe, of course, but it is an interesting coincidence.

It breaks my heart to think what a masterpiece “Bikini Car Wash” might have been had the studio not ham-handedly stolen the film away from its auteur director and trimmed the original five hour epic down to a piddling hour and a half.

Now, alongside trimmed films like “Birth of a Nation” “The Jazz Singer” and “Tank Girl” we can only wonder at what wonders we have missed…


Coincidentally or not, “Alan Smithee” is an anagram for “The Alias Men.”

inky- let us not forget that amazing excess of cinema, Von Stroheim’s Uncut “Greed” - 8 hours???

" If you want to kiss the sky you’d better learn how to kneel "

Hey, let’s not knock Roger Corman. The Edgar Allen Poe/Vincent Price stuff is marvellous fun. Just because Corman went on the cheap, and was bottom-line focused, doesn’t mean he didn’t craft movies that are largely enjoyable to watch, even today.

I’m not slamming the Cor-Man, CKDextHavn, I loved “King Dinosaur” (glued lizard fins and all). I’m just saying that, had he turned out to be real, Alan Smithee would catch more hell than Corman, Gordan, and Coleman Francis combined.


Click here for all the info on Alan Smithee

Ellison’s pseudonym is derived from the name Cordwainer Smith. When “Cordwainer Smith” published his first work Scanners Live in Vain in 1948 it created quite a sensation in the science fiction field. People correctly surmised that the author was using a pseudonym and due to the quality of the story most people guessed it was an established author who decided to conceal his identity. As Smith continued to produce excellent and unique stories there were several years of speculation and debate about his real identity. It was a number of years before he finally chose to reveal his real name; Paul Linebarger, a member of State Department who wished to keep his two professions distinct.

Years later, Ellison wanted to conceal his identity on a television script he wrote because he was unhappy about changes that had made to it. He decide to credit the script to Cordwainer Bird which was a combination of the well-known pseudonym with the idea of giving the producers of the show the bird.

Incidently, a cordwainer is a person who makes new boots.