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What is the best Director/Actor combo?


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I think Orson Welles did an excellent job of directing Glenn Anders in ?The Lady from Shanghai?. Anders played the weird lawyer, George Grisby.

 

Anders was mainly a stage actor in New York. He made a few movies, and I?ve seen a couple of them, but he was never any kind of noticeable character in them, until he made ?The Lady from Shanghai?. In that movie, Anders was really the main star. The film would have been nothing without him. Anders was never great again after this film. The only thing I can figure is that the right stage actor met just the right director, and the two of them made a great film together.

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Two that comes to mind most readily is John Ford / John Wayne and Anthony Mann / James Stewart.

 

Ford made Wayne a much better actor over the years and Mann resuscitated Stewart's career in the early 1950s with their adult westerns.

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SPOILERS

 

Billy Wilder/William Holden. As for the actress, I pick Billy Wilder/Audrey Hepburn/Barbara Stanwyck.

 

Hitchcock/ Cary Grant/ James Stewart. As for the actress, I pick Hitchcock/Teresa Wright/Vera Miles/Joan Fontaine.

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The pairing of director Josef Von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel (1930), Morocco (1930), Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), Blonde Venus (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934) and The Devil is a Woman (1935) gives me the most pleasure.

 

By the way, did the career of Jimmy Stewart ever need to be "resuscitated"? Sounds like hyperbole to me.

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*By the way, did the career of Jimmy Stewart ever need to be "resuscitated"? Sounds like hyperbole to me.*

 

Remember, Jimmy Stewart was in the military during WWII. When he returned, he wasn't looking to return to the fun-loving boy next door types or to his screen image before the war.

 

He wanted something different. He took his time coming back to his career. He spent a lot of time hanging out with Henry Fonda. Upon his return to acting, he didn't sign with MGM but with MCA and his new agent was an up and coming force to be reckoned with, Lew Wasserman.

 

Since he wasn't under contract to any particular studio, he became (like Barbara Stanwyck before him) a free-lancer. This gave him more freedom to pick and choose the roles he wanted. He'd been to war, he'd seen first hand and in some cases, up close and personal, the effects of war.

 

He was looking for more complex characters to play. His first one, George Bailey in *It's a Wonderful Life* bombed at the box office. Despite the Oscar nod for Best Actor, the film was considered a box office dud.

 

There was a new breed of actor making a name for themselves, Brando and Montgomery Clift. Stewart turned his sights to Broadway and a farce with a dark current running under it, *Harvey*. He returned to Hollywood to make the film adaptation. He seemed to like roles that had a dark current underneath the surface.

 

Wassermann took control of Stewart's career and teamed him up with Anthony Mann. They made a number of "adult" westerns together. The characters that Stewart plays in Mann's westerns are much darker than his pre-war characters and, along with Ethan Edwards (*The Searchers*) heralded a new frankness in American film.

 

The deal that Wasserman worked out for Stewart's services, a piece of the box office vs a straight salary, made Stewart a rich man

 

While not all of his outings with Hitchcock were successful, his turn as Scotty, the grieving and acrophobic detective of *Vertigo* is a far cry from the Jimmy Stewart roles of the 1930s. It was one of Stewart's most complex and negative roles, especially for the "hero" of the story.

 

He would work with John Ford a couple of westerns before Ford finally retired, giving one of his best, understated performances as Ranse Stoddard in *The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance*. On the surface it seems very much like a typical Jimmy Stewart "hero" western role but as you pull away the layers of the character you discover that the man Ranse Stoddard becomes is not the idealistic young lawyer he is at the top of the film. He becomes a politician too much in love with the sound of his own voice and caring too much for politics instead of the people he champions when he first arrives in Shinbone.

 

So, while resuscitated may be too strong a word for some, in some ways it is what happened to his career.

 

Message was edited by: lzcutter because I forgot Anthony Mann's name and made it sound like Wasserman had directed those films. Gads! I need a drink.

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Yet another interesting thread, Ezzo. Welcome to the board.

 

Director/Actress

 

5. John Ford/Maureen O'Hara - I haven't seen too many O'Hara films outside of Ford, but I'm going to be very surprised if any of them feature the kind of performances Maureen delivered with Ford. Her brand of loving fire is mesmerizing to me.

 

4. Alfred Hitchcock/Grace Kelly - Hitch was able to bring out the warm, playful side of Grace in Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. Oh, my.

 

3. G.W. Pabst/Louise Brooks - I only know of Lulu because of Pabst, so I'm pleading

my ignorance right upfront. But I will be stunned if Brooks could match her Pabst performances.

 

2. Josef von Sternberg/Marlene Dietrich - I must admit, I've only seen one of this couple's work, Morocco, and I was completely taken by it. That film alone made me like Marlene.

 

1. Fritz Lang/Joan Bennett - Ohhhhhhhhh, how I adore the dark Joan, and it was Lang who gave us the darkest of Joan.

 

One pairing I'm very interested in is Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman. And I have a feeling that Setsuko Hara's best work was with Yasujiro Ozu.

 

Director/Actor

 

9. F.W. Murnau/Emil Jannings - Jannings was a strong actor overall but I liked how Murnau allowed him to show his range. He played both the nefarious and sympathetic with Murnau.

 

8. John Ford/Henry Fonda - In this fella's book, Fonda is arguably the greatest actor of all, so it's hard to say one director brought out the most in Fonda. But what I've seen, I'd say Fonda's work with Ford has shown me different shades of Fonda. We get the dark side of Fonda in Fort Apache and the sensitive side in My Darling Clementine and Young Mr. Lincoln. I'm curious to see what Fonda I'll see in The Grapes of Wrath and Drums Along the Mohawk.

 

7. John Huston/Humphrey Bogart - We get the paranoid Bogie in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the cunningly cool Bogie in The Maltese Falcon, and a caring, heroic Bogie in Key Largo. And I haven't even seen The African Queen, Beat the Devil, and Across the Pacific.

 

6. Val Lewton/Boris Karloff - Okay, that's a cheat by me. But I love Karloff's performances in his Lewton appearances. He was able to show he was actually a very good actor.

 

5. John Ford/John Wayne - It was the films Rio Grande and The Wings of Eagles that made me realize that Wayne had much greater range than I ever realized. I give Ford the credit for entrusting Wayne with such demanding roles.

 

4. Orson Welles/Orson Welles - All right, this is more cheating by me, but I just love Welles in Welles. Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, and The Lady from Shanghai all feature stunningly powerful performances by Orson. And I haven't seen Mr. Arkadin or Macbeth.

 

3. Alfred Hitchcock/Cary Grant - Grant was a comedic genius but Hitch made Grant far more intrigruing by adding shades of gray to his characters while also placing him in tense, exciting situations.

 

2. Anthony Mann/James Stewart - Mann gave us a Stewart who had to fight both external and internal forces, with the latter being the more interesting of the two. Stewart's emotional and physical range were expanded by Mann.

 

1. Otto Preminger/Dana Andrews - I'm completely fascinated by the characters Dana Andrews plays in Laura, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Fallen Angel. He is mysteriously dark and dirty in all of these films... and he's our "hero."

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Good question Ezzo. For my money I'd have to go with:

* William Wyler & Bette Davis.

* Frank Capra & Barbara Stanwyck.

* Alfred Hitchcock & Ingrid Bergman.

* Michael Curtiz & Errol Flynn.

 

Frank, I love reading your detailed reasons.

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A lot of really good ones have already been mentioned, so I won't repeat those; a few other ones that came to mind:

 

Classic:

Tod Browning / Lon Chaney

Clarence Brown / Greta Garbo

George Cukor / Katharine Hepburn

Frank Capra / Jean Arthur

Howard Hawks / Cary Grant

Vincente Minnelli / Judy Garland

Elia Kazan / Marlon Brando

Budd Boetticher / Randolph Scott

Billy Wilder / Jack Lemmon

Blake Edwards / Peter Sellers

Vittorio de Sica / Sophia Loren

Michael Powell / Anton Walbrook

 

Contemporary:

Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio

Robert Zemeckis / Tom Hanks

John Woo / Chow Yun-Fat

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I'd also like to throw in the Ford/Wayne combo simply because I think JW did his best work with Ford at the whip ( and I do mean whip!)

 

Liberty Valence ( for me his best) and Quiet Man immediately leap to mind.

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I absolutely LOVED the *Robert Aldrich and Bette Davis* collaborations. Looking back now I think I liked more Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte a bit more than Baby Jane, I think it's the resonance on the Charlotte character that Bette plays so magnificently, and the horrible past that she has not been able to put away. Henry Ferrel really wrote a great stories for these two film, I think this film was previously entitlted: "What's wrong with Cousin Charlotte?", but was later changed to "ush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte" - which is the title of the great lullaby that is thoroughly played and used to haunt poor Charlotte. The film really had an intense Edgar Allen poe touch to it, I mean this was real suspense that only Hitchcock could make! And that last scene where Charlotte leaves the music box inside that old home and her entire past, after all those years of torment, it's finally put to rest as she drives away with her dignity and peace of mind. I've only seen the film once, but it's made such an impression on me, the acting can't get any better and Robert's directorial vision only enhances the experience.

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Husband and wife Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina, most notably in LA STRADA and NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, in which Masina's closing scene is for me one of the greatest and most moving affirmations of life I've ever seen on screen.

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Akira Kurosawa/Toshiro Mifune is certainly one of the top combinations. Another one that hasn't been mentioned is Joseph Losey/Dirk Bogarde. Losey helped Bogarde realize his potential as an actor in films like "The Servant" and "Accident."

 

Two of of my favorite director/actress combinations have already been nominated: William Wyler/Bette Davis and Federico Fellini/Giulietta Masina. Let's add Ingmar Bergman/Liv Ullmann.

 

FrankGrimes: you're going to love Bogart in "The African Queen" and Henry Fonda in "The Grapes of Wrath."

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I agree with all the combinations mentioned, esp Kurosawa/Mifune. But for my money I love directors as paired with character actors:

 

John Ford/Ward Bond, Mildred Natwick, Victor McLaglen

Preston Sturges/Eddie Bracken & William Demarest

John Huston/Walter Huston

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}

> CineSage may not agree, but how about Wilder and Lemmon? An unbeatable combination, as far as I'm concerned, especially after seeing "Avanti!" for the first time.

 

I had mentioned Wilder & Lemmon earlier... don't think many others did, though.

 

Bronxgirl, if you're interested in checking out Kurosawa/Mifune movies, there's about a dozen to choose from and I think most of them are on DVD. A good pair to start with would be Yojimbo and Sanjuro, with Mifune playing the same character in both.

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Hey, Kingrat -- you're going to love Bogart in "The African Queen" and Henry Fonda in "The Grapes of Wrath."

 

I believe you are right. Bogart and Fonda are both in my top six for favorite actors.

 

Love seeing Joseph Losey's name getting dropped by you. Very nice.

 

Hola, CineMaven & JackFavell -- Thanks for the love. That's always appreciated,

especially when it comes from two ladies with fine taste. Okay, CineMaven has fine taste,

Jackie needs some work. :D Ohhhh, heck, I can't get on you too much, Jackie, since you

watched some Gloria Grahame today.

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