Alan Rudolph’s Trouble in Mind

Tampering with Myths
Caryl Flinn
A critical analysis of Alan Rudolph’s dreamy neo-noir
This title is open access and free to read on the web A free online version is forthcoming. This open access version made available by Joshua A. Bilmes and JABberwocky Literary Agency.


Despite a career spanning over forty years, filmmaker Alan Rudolph has flown largely under the radar of independent film scholars and enthusiasts, often remembered as Robert Altman’s protege. Through a reading of his 1985 film Trouble in Mind, Caryl Flinn demonstrates that Rudolph is long overdue for critical re-evaluation. 

Exploring Trouble in Mind’s influence on indie filmmaking, Rudolph’s dream-like style, and the external political influences of the Reagan era, Flinn effectively conveys the originality of Rudolph’s work through this multifaceted film. Utilizing archival materials and interviews with Rudolph himself and his collaborators, Flinn argues for this career-defining film’s relevance to American independent cinema and the decade of the 80s. Amply illustrated with frame enlargements and set photographs, this book uncovers new production stories and reception contexts of a film that Flinn argues deserves a place in the limelight.
Caryl Flinn is Professor of Film, Television, and Media at the University of Michigan.

Praise / Awards

  • “In recent years the discipline of cinema studies seems to be moving into the archive but without the excitement that characterized so much of the writing during the early years of cinema studies. This book on Trouble in Mind promises a new mode of study with roots in the archive but with multiple strategies for making it yield interpretive criticism. The result is a rich appreciation of how the film was received.”
    —Krin Gabbard, Stony Brook University

  • “This book fills a void in the work on independent cinema, particularly with regard to the 1980s, as well as director Alan Rudolph, who has largely remained in the shadow of his mentor Robert Altman in film scholarship. It serves as a model for reading films of this period in light of Reagan-era politics and policies.”
    —Richard Ness, Western Illinois University

Product Details

  • 5 x 8.
  • 136pp.
  • 35 photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2023
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-03939-5

  • $19.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2023
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-90378-8