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Best Directors


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Who is the best? Wilder, Hitch, Ford, Hawks? Please name at least five films to back up the claim.

It could be Wilder. The Jack Lemmon TCM original short about Wilder might be a convincer. Below are films he directed to say nothing if his writing. It's all over the map of style and genre. I'd love to see ten best directors then whittle it down.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Lost Weekend(1945)

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Ace In The Hole (1951)

Stalag 17 (1953)


Seven Year Itch (1955)

Witness For the Prosecution (1957)

Some Like It Hot(1959)

The Apartment (1960)

One, Two, Three (1961)

Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

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I'm sure they'll be some other great choices, including Wilder, Hitchcock, etc., but my money's on "The K", Akiro Kurosawa. These 20 films alone lap the field of any other director:


Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

Drunken Angel (1948)

Stray Dog (1949)

Scandal (1950)

Rashomon (1950)

The Idiot (1951)

Ikiru (1952)

Seven Samurai (1954)

I Live in Fear (1955)

Throne of Blood (1957)

The Lower Depths (1957)

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

Yojimbo (1961)

High and Low (1963)

Red Beard (1965)

Dodes?ka-den (1970)

Kagemusha (1980)


Luckily TCM played them all back in March of 2010, because otherwise except for Seven Samurai, the viewings here are few and far between.

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I'm not trying to define 'best' director but the director that has directed the most first rate productions and very few duds would be William Wyler.


Just a list of some of his films:


Dodsworth (36)

Dead End (37)

Jezebel (38)

Wuthering Heights (39)

The Westerner (40)

The Letter (40)

The Little Foxes (41)

Mrs. Miniver (42)

Best Years of Our Lives (46)

The Heiress (47)

Detective Story (51)

Roman Holiday (53)

The Desperate Hours (55)

The Big Country (58)

Ben Hur (59)

How to Steal A Million (66)

Funny Girl (58)


I also believe he has directed the most movies where the lead actresses won the Oscar.

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Yes, I should of said my favorite American director especially since the other choices listed by people so far were foreign directors.


I don't have enough knowledge of foreign films to 'rate' them, but I'm trying to gain more knowledge. e.g. I watched the French flims last night and really enjoyed them.

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*Friendly Persuasion* had *6* Oscar nominations, including Best Picture (1956) and BEST DIRECTOR, William Wyler. The theme song ( Thee I Love) sung by Pat Boone, was a big hit. *Friendly Persuasion* starring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire and Anthony Perkins, belongs on any list . listing great films by William Wyler.

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James, while I gather that you don't have a large collection of Pat Boone records, I also assume that you wouldn't leave Friendly Persuasion off the list of great Wyler films just for that reason.


I think it's an utterly charming film, full of gentle humour, as well as some poignant drama as it deals with the moral quandry of pacifists (in this case, Quakers) in a struggle with their religious beliefs when war threatens their own homes and families.


Gary Cooper seemed to rediscover the charm and gentle humour of his earlier screen characterizations in this film. Anthony Perkins is quite remarkable, too. And Marjorie Main as the Widow Hudspeth, with her three man hungry daughters, is the comedic highlight of the production. Oh, yes, there's also Samantha the Goose.


If the film seems a little rambling and long, that is a forgivable flaw, I feel, considering the virtues provided by the film. (Including "Thee I Love" by Dimitri Tiomkin and sung by you know who). I'm with lavenderblue on this being a major Wyler production.

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Tom, great recap of *Friendly Persuasion* , so glad you agree with me that it's definitely a major Wyler production and a very lovely, charming film. Tony Perkins was nominated for an Oscar for his outstanding performance. I happen to love the theme song, always have since I was a little girl.

*Friendly Persuasion* besides all he wonderful performances and the very moving story was also a very beautiful film to watch visually. Truly one of Wyler's best films :) imo

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lavenderblue, my grandfather was a soft spoken, humourous man with, at times, a mischevious gleam in his eye. In spite of his age, there was always a bit of a conspiratorial little boy quality about him which he needed, at times, because my grandmother was pretty straight laced without any humour.


My mother always loved Friendly Persuasion because Gary Cooper reminded her so much of my grandfather in that film.

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Tom, that's a very lovely memory of your grandfather for your mother and you. He must have been very special.

Thank You for sharing that with us. My kids have a wonderful memory of my beloved sister who passed away a few years ago. They think of their Aunt Edie as Auntie Mame. My beloved Edie was so much like that character. Generous, intelligent, worldy and adventurous. Isn't it great that not only do we have films like Friendly Persuasion and Mame, not just to enjoy for their own sake, but because they also remind us of loved ones and bring back lovely memories :)


ps- I think that whenever I watch one of my all time favorite Wyler films *Friendly Persuasion* I'll remember your post :)

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Thanks for sharing that memory about your sister, lavenderblue.


That's one of the wonderful things about the movies - that a performance or even, perhaps, just a scene or even moment, in a film may make a very personal connection with an individual viewer in a special way (hopefully positive).


You have happy memories of your sister when you see Mame, and I think of Grandpa when I watch Jess Birdwell in Friendly Persuasion wanting to get into a buggy race.

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  • 1 month later...

When I first became interested in film, Hitch was the guy, I even wrote my term paper on his films. A lifetime of catching up on the "classics", I realize how much hype Hitch created of his own persona & films. Although stylish, most of his miss the mark for me now.


I find Fritz Lang to be a much better director of suspense and just a touch more subtle. Last movie of his I watched made me literally squirm in my chair*. Some faves:

Metropolis '27

M '31

Woman In The Window '44*

Scarlet Street '45

While The City Sleeps '56


I love Wyler too, his films are definitely more varied in tone.


But I do thing Billy Wilder is the greatest director in classic film. His subjects were more varied and his ability to get stellar performances from tempermental actors was uncanny.


He had all the talents to make the best movies; the right guy at the right time in the right job. That brilliance doesn't align very often in any career.

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Nothing you stated that I disagree with. All I can add is that I believe Wilder was the best at creating a vision and making that vision into a finish product. I.e. he often came up with the plot, wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.


Wyler was one of the best at taking someone else?s vision and getting that to the screen. He was also great with temperamental women, like Davis and Dehavilland.

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