Salinger (film)

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The official movie poster for SALINGER documentary film.jpg
Directed by Shane Salerno
Produced by Shane Salerno
Buddy Squires
Deborah Randall
Craig Fanning
Written by Shane Salerno
Starring Martin Sheen
Edward Norton
John Cusack
Judd Apatow
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Cinematography Anthony Savini
Buddy Squires
Edited by Jeffrey Doe
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • September 6, 2013 (2013-09-06)
Country United States
Language English
Box office $650,675[1]

Salinger is a 2013 documentary film about the writer J. D. Salinger, written and directed by Shane Salerno.

Production history[edit]

On January 29, 2010, the website broke an exclusive story and review of Salinger, a feature-length documentary about reclusive author J. D. Salinger that Salerno directed, produced and financed himself. The documentary was kept secret for five years. The film features interviews with 150 subjects including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito (whose interviews were cut from the film's official release), John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E. L. Doctorow, and Pulitzer Prize winners A. Scott Berg, Elizabeth Frank and the late Gore Vidal. Michael Fleming, the first journalist in the world to view the film, said Salerno's picture was "arrestingly powerful and exhaustively researched". Additionally, Fleming announced that Salerno had co-written a 700-page biography on Salinger with New York Times bestselling author David Shields.[2]

On February 4, 2010, Entertainment Weekly released an article about the Salinger documentary that detailed the elaborate security protocol that was put into place to keep the film secret for five years.[3]

On January 26, 2011, Salerno spoke with the Associated Press about his Salinger documentary and its expected late 2012 release. "In the final analysis, what distinguishes our film and book project is access—access to Salinger's friends, colleagues and members of his inner circle that have never spoken on the record before as well as film footage, photographs and other material that has never been seen," Salerno said. "We take the viewer and reader inside J. D. Salinger's private world and shine light on a man named Jerry who lived in the shadow of the myth of J. D. Salinger".

On February 27, 2013, it was announced that Harvey Weinstein had acquired the documentary for theatrical distribution by his studio, The Weinstein Company, after being the only studio head to see the finished film after the 85th Academy Awards. The purchase price was $2 million. It does not include the television rights, which were sold to PBS' American Masters. The release date of September 6, 2013 was chosen for the film to be a candidate for the 86th Academy Awards.[4]

On June 13, 2013, The Weinstein Company released the first trailer for the film.[5]

The film premiered on American Masters as the program's 200th episode on January 21, 2014.[6] This version contains fifteen extra minutes of footage, including the interviews which were cut from the theatrical release, as is considered by Salerno to be "my definitive version" of the film.[7]

On September 4, 2013, in an interview on Charlie Rose, Salerno revealed that the project initially started as a feature film, with Daniel Day-Lewis as his choice to play Salinger.[8]


The film received largely negative reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 35% based on a sample of 84 reviews, with a weighted mean score of 5.4/10.[9] On Metacritic, the film holds an average score of 40% based on 28 reviews.[10]

Many critics accused the film of sensationalizing the life of J.D. Salinger, especially its use of dramatic music and focus on salacious details such as his relationships with young women. The film was also criticized for an awkward use of reenactments and a recurring motif of the author sitting at a desk in front of a movie screen.[11]

Ben Sachs of the Chicago Reader called it "godawful", saying "The movie has little to say about Salinger's contribution to American literature, but plenty to tell us about his celebrity and romantic infatuation with teenage girls."[12]

A.O. Scott of the New York Times said "It does not so much explore the life and times of J. D. Salinger as run his memory and legacy through a spin cycle of hype. Salinger moved to the woods of New Hampshire partly to escape the intrusions and indignities of American celebrity culture. Salinger is that culture’s revenge." [13]

Former At The Movies critic Ben Mankiewicz gave the film a positive review, saying it told him a lot about the author's time in World War Two, and his relationships with Oona O'Neil and author Joyce Maynard. He described it as "definitely worth seeing." [14]

The film was one of the top-ten highest-grossing documentaries of 2013.[15]

American Masters Director's Cut[edit]

The director's cut of Salinger aired on the Emmy-winning PBS series American Masters on January 21, 2014. It was their special 200th Episode.

On January 22, 2014, AP reported that “within hours” of Salinger appearing on American Masters/PBS J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye “soared” to number 1 on Amazon for the first time in its publishing history.[16]


  1. ^ "Salinger". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (January 29, 2010). "Secret J.D. Salinger Documentary & Book, Now Revealed (Mike Has Seen The Film)". Deadline Hollywood. 
  3. ^ Sperling, Nicole (February 4, 2010). "J.D. Salinger documentary: the top-secret film five years in the making". Entertainment Weekly. 
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (February 27, 2013). "J.D. Salinger Documentary Acquired By Harvey Weinstein".
  5. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (June 13, 2013). "Hot Trailer: 'Salinger'".
  6. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (January 30, 2013). "Next Up For J.D. Salinger Docu: Film Distribution Deal To Follow S&S Book Pact".
  7. ^
  8. ^ "An hour with filmmaker Shane Salerno on his documentary about reclusive author J.D. Salinger.". Charlie Rose. PBS. September 3, 2013.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Salinger (Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman & Edward Norton) -- Movie Review", "What The Flick?!, Sep 5, 2013
  12. ^ Ben Sachs, "Salinger" capsule review, "Chicago Reader
  13. ^ A.O. Scott, "The Punishment for Being Publicity-Shy: ‘Salinger,’ a Documentary by Shane Salerno", The New York Times, September 5, 2013
  14. ^ Ben Mankiewicz, "Salinger (Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman & Edward Norton) -- Movie Review", "What The Flick?!, Sep 5, 2013
  15. ^
  16. ^

External links[edit]