Critical, often idiosyncratic essays on 117 American movie directors of the sound era--mostly by Coursodon, but also featuring contributions by such other ""auteurist"" critics as Sauvage, Charles Wolfe, Myron Meisel, Barry Putterman, Alain Masson, and others. Volume I covers directors born before 1907, with lesser-known, forgotten craftsmen often receiving more attention than the giants: John M. Stahl (Back Street, Leave Her to Heaven) earns three times as much space as Fritz Lang, for instance--in a piece that finds Stahl, semi-persuasively, ""anything but a romantic."" Similar tiltings occur with the younger directors in Volume II as well, Ida Lupino (as director, not actress) given twelve pages of intense study whereas Martin Scorsese is mused over in a few quirky paragraphs. And the styles throughout the two volumes are an unpredictable mix--with Coursodon chattily irreverent on Chaplin, then solemnly film-school/ pedantic on Arthur Penn. . . while the guest contributors take any approach they like, from academic to glossily journalistic. Still, though most of the essays are too unsystematic to be consulted as comprehensive career-overviews, each one is headed by a complete film list. And, if the opinions and perspectives here aren't authoritative enough to make this a reliable reference for beginning film-students or casual fans, more sophisticated cinema-followers will savor the sharper-edged commentary, ignore the glib/self-indulgent entries, and welcome the data on relatively little-known directors.