Over the years, the idea of so-called auteur filmmaking has become identified with a certain breed of art-house cinema. A short list of American auteurs would probably include directors such as Woody Allen, Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson — but not someone like Sam Peckinpah, who made ultra-violent movies about cowboys and truckers, as well as "Straw Dogs," the anti-intellectual film par excellence.

It's worth recalling, though, that the idea of auteur filmmaking originated in the pages of French critical journal Cahiers du Cinema, with people writing passionately about directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks — individuals who worked within Hollywood yet somehow managed to put a personal stamp on their many disparate projects.

"Passion and Poetry: The Ballad of Sam Peckinpah," a documentary on the late director by Mike Siegel (which opens on Sept. 27 at Theater Image Forum), is a testament to Peckinpah's mythic status as a spike in the cogs of studio filmmaking. Friends and collaborators recall — with both laughter and head-shaking incomprehension — numerous stories of Sam, from him urinating on the screen to signal his dissatisfaction with some poorly printed rushes to tossing his carefully coiffed leading lady into a pig trough to give her the proper "look," and finishing off three bottles of vodka before noon each day while filming "Cross of Iron."