Director George Hickenlooper was one of the film makers behind the superb documentary 'Hearts Of Darkness' about the making of Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now', and also directed the interesting but flawed Civil War horror movie 'The Killing Box'. The latter was edited by cult director Monte Hellman, and this 14 minute short is Hickenlooper's attempt to draw some attention to Hellman, a criminally underrated figure in American movies. 'American Auteur' is a fascinating glimpse into some of the highlights of Hellman's career. The only criticism I have of it is that it is so damn short it only just whets your appetite. There is so much more to talk about when dealing with Hellman! Like many other directors and actors Hellman got his first big break working for Roger Corman, and did some uncredited direction on 'The Terror' as well as editing Corman's biker trash classic 'The Wild Angels'. His reputation is mainly due to his 1960s cult westerns 'Ride In The Whirlwind' and 'The Shooting', both collaborations with Jack Nicholson, and his existential road movie classic 'Two Lane Blacktop', the cast of which included his friend and frequent star Warren Oates. Hellman and Oates also made the little seen but highly thought of 'Cockfighter', and more recently Hellman produced Quentin Tarantino's classic 'Reservoir Dogs'. Tarantino is a great admirer of Hellman's movies, but unfortunately isn't interviewed for this documentary. You can hear him discussing Hellman, and particularly his love for 'Ride In The Whirlwind', on the 'Reservoir Dogs' DVD. Roger Corman IS interviewed in 'American Auteur' and is extremely complimentary, as is legendary character actor Harry Dean Stanton who acted in 'Whirlwind', 'Blacktop' and 'Cockfighter'. I hope Hickenlooper (or somebody) eventually expands upon this documentary as Hellman certainly deserves a LOT more attention. But for now this is an interesting introduction to one of the most underrated directors in American film history, and is highly recommended viewing for all film buffs, especially those fascinated by the 1970s.