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Best Film Directors?


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I'm also a big fan of Lubitsch and Hitchcock. Here's my favorite quote about Lubitsch:

 

"I still remember the day of the funeral. After the ceremony, William Wyler and I walked silently to our car. Finally, I said, just to say something to break the silence, ?No more Lubitsch.? To which Wyler replied, ?Worse than that ? no more Lubitsch films.'"

 

? Billy Wilder (Action!, Magazine of the Screen Directors Guild of America; November 1967)

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Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Wilder, Kurosawa, Joel and Ethan Cohen, and I have to agree with David English on Ford. His use of shadow was as good as Welles, his movies have a surreal quality to them, Liberty Valance was an experiment in values, shades of gray and tones, watch it next to stagecoach other b.w. movie and you will see a difference. Another favorite of mine was William Wellman for the same reason as Welles, the use of shadow and camera angles, floating close-ups of actors who weren't speaking during the dialogue, using every bit of the film to tell the story.

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Glad to be around folks who recognize Lubitsch's talents. He is (obviously) one of my very favorite Hollywood directors yet I have never seen any of the following: The Oyster Princess (1919), Die Puppe (1920), The Love Parade (1929), Monte Carlo (1930), The Man I Killed (1931) and One Hour With You (1932). Does TCM ever show any of these titles?

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John Huston to me had a very erratic career. I that all the great Directors on ocasion could make some real stinkers. But I think he was King of Bad films. For every " Maltese Falcon ", there was a " Beat the Devil ". Don't get me wrong, I think that he was one of the greatest Directors of all time, but he did come up with " clinkers " more often than most top Directors. Otto Preminger was a close second.

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One of my all time favorite directors, along with Lubitsch and Von Sternberg, is Rouben Mamoulian! He was just incredible as far as I am concerned. His film credits include Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Song of Songs (1933), Becky Sharp (1935), Golden Boy (1939), The Mark of Zorro (1940), Blood and Sand (1941), and Silk Stockings (1957).

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> One of my all time favorite directors, along with

> Lubitsch and Von Sternberg, is Rouben Mamoulian! He

> was just incredible as far as I am concerned. His

> film credits include Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931),

> The Song of Songs (1933), Becky Sharp (1935), Golden

> Boy (1939), The Mark of Zorro (1940), Blood and Sand

> (1941), and Silk Stockings (1957).

 

Otto Preminger ( the producer ) replaced Mamoulian as director of " Laura ". The Nazi - like also replaced him on" Porgy and Bess "> Rouben Mamoulian was the original director on th Liz taylor version of "Cleopatra".

Mamoulian's " The Mark of zorro ", is the best of all the Zorro films, and his " Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a movie masterpiece. Too bad that TCM doesn't show it more frequently.

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Raoul Walsh directed two of James Cagney's best films. First the Gangster classic " The Roaring Twenties', where Cagney is WW ! vet Eddie Bartlett turned bootlegger. The second is " White Heat ", one of the great noirs.Here Cagney portrays the mother loving Cody Jarrett. Both films have memorable endings.

 

He also Directed the early talkie epic " The Big Trail " starring John Wayne. The only other Wayne feature the was Directed by Raoul Walsh was " The Dark Command ", for Republic in 1940 co - starring Claire Trevor. Republic was attempting to capitalize on the success of " Stagecoach " that co - starred Wayne - Trevor in 1939.

Raaoul Walsh was also an actor, he played John Wilkes Booth in " The Birth of a Nation "..

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Another of my favorite warm directors is Von Sternberg. His films were always so rich and shadowy, what I like to call "warm." Also, Hitchcock's Suspicion is another warm film, lots of shadows and rich black and white tones. But, Hitchcock, could be cold as well. I didn't care much for the coldness I felt in Foreign Correspondent. Everyone seems to love that film, but is was not a warm film as far as I am concerned. It seemed hollow at times, and the photography was just not as rich as some others I have seen of Hitchcock's.

 

I guess what I am trying to say, and pretty badly, is that sometimes I can tell they are in a studio, or it sounds a little tinny. Then, sometimes I feel like I am actually there in the room. It feels so warm and comfortable, I sometimes forget I am watching a film.

 

The worst "cold" film I have ever seen is Faces, I think that is the name, by, I think, Peter Bogdonavich. It was on last month or before that. It starred Gena Rowlands. I just couldn't bear to watch it. It was just horribly filmed. I suppose it was done for realism, but for me it was just poorly presented. Maybe they were on a budget?

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Faces is one of the most important American films of the 60s, a biting satire of the middle class written and directed by John Cassavetes. It was shot in 16 mm black and white partly due to budget and partly, as you say, "for realism". This is the opposite of the glossy, over-produced Hollywood cinema. It's a key work of the American Independent movement pioneered by Cassavetes, among others. Faces is certainly not a film for those seeking escapism but a searing critique of the middle class circa 1968: one long night in the lives of a married couple and their respective lovers. As free of contrivance and glamour as movies get, tough to watch perhaps, but truthful, honest and essential viewing.

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Here are my favorites:

 

Alfred Hitchcock

Akira Kurosawa

Ishiro Honda

Martin Scorsese

Stanley Kubrick

Tod Browning

Raoul Walsh

John Huston

James Whale

John Ford

Tim Burton

Frank Capra

Ridley Scott

Francis Ford Coppola

Steven Spielberg

Jun Fukuda

Shusuke Kaneko

 

Mind you, these are not in any kind of "official" order. However, I do favor the directors at the top the most. And of course, these are not all of them. I just can't bring a few

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  • 4 weeks later...

Federico Fellini

Billy Wilder

Alfred Hitchcock

Steven Spielberg

Vittorio DeSica

Francois Truffaut

William Wyler

Victor Fleming

FW Murnau

Fritz Lang

Sergei Eisenstein

Charles Chaplin

Roman Polanski

Milos Forman

Jean-Luc Godard

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There's one thing I'd like to say, in regards to Alfred Hitchcock. Personally, he is my preference when it comes to directors. The apex, if you will. There are many different reasons, but chief among them is because, to me, he clearly defined that fine line between "film-as-art," and "film-as-entertainment." He defined it, and he walked it like no other director before, or since. " Rear Window" is a perfect film in my eyes, because that balance is perfectly achieved. Hitchcock's idea of "pure cinema" coupled with his great sense of humor, and his ability to get the most likeable actors for the job, is what makes the movie perhaps the BEST example of the two things that movies are; art and entertainment.

 

John Ford is an American giant, Akira Kurosawa is an Emperor of legends, but nobody, in my opinion, has a damn thing on Alfred Hitchcock, when it comes to pure, moviemaking skill, and on all levels.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I seem to be on the same page with Mysterious Mose on this one. Rouben Mamoulien, Ernst Lubitsch, King Vidor, Lewis Milestone, Clarence Brown, and Edmund Goulding are the men most responsible for breaking the sound barrier. with extremely innovative and stylish films during that peroid. I also greatly admire the great performances that were coaxed out of performers by George Cukor. Von Sternberg's films, especially from 1930-1936, are a treasure to watch, and James Whale's stylistic approach to filmmaking in One More River, Showboat, Frankenstein, and Bride of Frankenstein is still fascinating. Still, I seem to speaking of a specific period in filmmaking, but I totally agree with everyone else that Hitchcock, Ford, Hawks, Minnelli, Lang and Lean were all incredible. I'm also extremely fond of the films of the lesser known director Sidney Franklin (The Good Earth, Private Lives, The Guardsman, Barretts of Wimpole Street).

 

Best, Philip

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