Alan Smithee has been credited as director of more than 70 short and feature films and he has directed none of them. The popular alias has been used by some of the most successful directors in Hollywood to cover up their failures and mistakes and protect their precious egos from criticism. Not everything can go right when making a movie and Alan Smithee usually takes the blame.
John Landis used the Alan Smithee alias for the second director of his part of “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” During the filming of the second unit, an actor and two children died during a tragic accident and the name Smithee was used to help protect the actual second unit director Andy House. Easily the darkest moment in Alan Smithee's career.
To cover up his barely watchable film “Woman Wanted” Sutherland used Smithee the same way he would use a terrorist on "24". As a human shield to hide behind. Proving that some stars should simply stick to acting, drinking and tearing up every bar on the west coast and leave the directing to anyone else. Seriously anyone else at all.
While Dennis Hopper was a somewhat acclaimed actor and director, his film “Catchfire” was not up to snuff. Luckily Hopper was able to use Alan Smithee and save himself some of the shame of releasing a film this bad with his name as director and actor.
While Lynch didn’t use the name Smithee he did release the TV edit of his spectacular flop, and cult classic, “Dune” under the name Judas Booth. Saving his ego from the already phenomenal hit it took when “Dune” bombed in theaters.