Greatest Film Directors
and Their Best Films

Part 3

Greatest Film Directors
(alphabetical)
Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 , Part 6

Greatest Film Directors: These honored selections are designed as a tribute to some of the greatest directors of predominantly English-language films, with suggested or recommended Best Films or 'Must-See' Films from their filmographies. See also this site's multi-part compilation of other deserved film directors (alphabetical) - More Great Film Directors.

Key to Iconic Symbols: The following additional sources are indicated by icons in Filmsite's compilation:

Filmsite's selections of the "50 Greatest Film Directors" from the entire list - without ranking numbers.

The Greatest Directors and Their Best Films
Part 3
(Alphabetical Order, Unranked)


ALFRED HITCHCOCK 1899-1980
Acknowledged British Master of Manipulative Terror and Thrillers, Widely Known as the "Master of Suspense" and Arguably the Most Imitated Director of All Time; also Host of His Own TV Mystery Series

A master of suspense and gallows humor, he turned out classic after classic, including Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds.

See Hitchcock's Memorable Cameo Appearances

Suggested Filmography: The Lodger (1926), Blackmail (1929), Murder! (1930), Rich and Strange (1932), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), Sabotage (1936), Secret Agent (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Jamaica Inn (1939), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Rebecca (1940), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941), Suspicion (1941), Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), The Paradine Case (1947), Rope (1948), Under Capricorn (1949), Stage Fright (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), I Confess (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), The Trouble With Harry (1955), To Catch a Thief (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956, remake), The Wrong Man (1956), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), Family Plot (1976).


RON HOWARD 1954-
Young Child Performer Turned Director

Suggested Filmography: Night Shift (1982), Splash (1984), Cocoon (1985), Gung Ho (1986), Willow (1988), Parenthood (1989), Backdraft (1991), Far and Away (1992), The Paper (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), Ransom (1996), EdTV (1999), Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), The Missing (2003), Cinderella Man (2005), The Da Vinci Code (2006), Frost/Nixon (2008), Angels & Demons (2009), Rush (2013), In the Heart of the Sea (2015).


JOHN HUSTON 1906-1987
Legendary, Prodigious, Top-Notch American Director and Storyteller (also Actor and Scriptwriter) of Brilliantly-Crafted Films From All Genres

Artistic, macho, and intellectual, Huston had a career spanning four decades, from The Maltese Falcon to Prizzi's Honor.

Suggested Filmography: The Maltese Falcon (1941), Across the Pacific (1942), In This Our Life (1942), Key Largo (1948), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The African Queen (1951), The Red Badge of Courage (1951), Moulin Rouge (1952), Beat the Devil (1953), Moby Dick (1956), A Farewell to Arms (1957), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), The Unforgiven (1960), The Misfits (1961), Freud (1962), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), The Night of the Iguana (1964), The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), The Kremlin Letter (1970), Fat City (1972), The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), The Mackintosh Man (1973), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Wise Blood (1979), Victory (1981), Annie (1982), Under the Volcano (1984), Prizzi's Honor (1985), The Dead (1987).

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU 1963-
Acclaimed and Award-Winning Mexican Film Director/Writer/Producer of Films That Often Have Complex Overlapping, and Non-Linear Plotlines

Suggested Filmography: Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006), Biutiful (2010), Birdman (2014), The Revenant (2015).


PETER JACKSON 1961-
New Zealand-Born Director Best Known for The Lord of the Rings and Hobbitt Trilogies

This New Zealand-born movie buff started small with the low-budget Bad Taste and worked his way up to the epic The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Suggested Filmography: Bad Taste (1987), Meet the Feebles (1989), Dead Alive (1992), Heavenly Creatures (1994), The Frighteners (1996), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), King Kong (2005), Crossing the Line (2008), The Lovely Bones (2009), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), The Hobbit: There and Back Again (2014).

ELIA KAZAN 1909-2003
Controversial American Stage and Film Director of Gritty Psychological Dramas and Message Movies

In A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, this controversial director made gritty psychological dramas with resonance.

Suggested Filmography: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), The Sea of Grass (1947), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Boomerang! (1947), Pinky (1949), Panic in the Streets (1950), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952), Man on a Tightrope (1953), On the Waterfront (1954), East of Eden (1955), Baby Doll (1956), A Face in the Crowd (1957), Wild River (1960), Splendor in the Grass (1961), America, America (1963), The Arrangement (1969), The Visitors (1972), The Last Tycoon (1976).


BUSTER KEATON 1895-1966
The Great Stone Face, Silent Comedian/Stuntman and Director Noted for Risk-taking Physical Comedy

Suggested Filmography: One Week (1920), The Playhouse (1921), The Boat (1921), Cops (1922), Our Hospitality (1923), The Three Ages (1923), The Balloonatic (1923), The Navigator (1924), Sherlock Jr. (1924), Go West (1925), Seven Chances (1925), Battling Butler (1926), College (1927), The General (1927), The Cameraman (1928), Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), Spite Marriage (1929).

HENRY KING 1886-1982
Durable, Consistently-Commercial Director from the Silents to the 60s

Suggested Filmography: Tol'able David (1921), Stella Dallas (1925), Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938), In Old Chicago (1938), Jesse James (1939), Stanley and Livingstone (1939), A Yank in the RAF (1941), The Black Swan (1942), The Song of Bernadette (1943), Wilson (1944), A Bell for Adano (1945), Margie (1946), Captain From Castile (1947), Twelve O'Clock High (1949), Prince of Foxes (1949), The Gunfighter (1950), David and Bathsheba (1951), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), King of the Khyber Rifles (1953), Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), Carousel (1956), The Sun Also Rises (1957), The Bravados (1958), The Old Man and the Sea (1958), This Earth is Mine (1959), Beloved Infidel (1959).

STANLEY KRAMER 1913-2001
Influential, Highly-Regarded Director-Producer of Social Themes and Issues in the 50s and 60s

Suggested Filmography: Champion (1949) (producer), Home of the Brave (1949) (producer), The Men (1950) (producer), Death of a Salesman (1951) (producer), High Noon (1952) (producer), The Wild One (1954) (producer), The Caine Mutiny (1954) (producer), Not as a Stranger (1955), The Pride and the Passion (1957), The Defiant Ones (1958), On the Beach (1959), Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Ship of Fools (1965), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969), Bless the Beasts and the Children (1971), Oklahoma Crude (1973), The Domino Principle (1977).


STANLEY KUBRICK 1928-1999
Enigmatic, Creative, Cinematic Perfectionist and Hollywood Outsider of the Post-War Era; Director of Deeply-Layered, Complex, and Wide-Ranging Films in Many Different Genres

He made science trippy in 2001, Cold War politics slapstick in Dr. Strangelove, and Roman slaves au courant in Spartacus.

Suggested Filmography: Day of the Fight (1951), Fear and Desire (1953), Killer's Kiss (1955), The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Spartacus (1960), Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned... (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Eyes Wide Shut (1999).


AKIRA KUROSAWA 1910-1998
Acclaimed and Magnificent Writer/Director of Japanese Cinema

With breakthrough pictures and his samurai action films, he brought Japanese cinema to international audiences.

Suggested Filmography: Rashomon (1950), Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), Throne of Blood (1957), The Hidden Fortress (1958), Yojimbo (1961), Sanjuro (1962), Dersu Uzala (1975), Ran (1985).


FRITZ LANG 1890-1976
Pioneering Abstract German Expressionist and Resourceful Early Director of Dark Film Noirs

Metropolis still defines the future, and thrillers like The Woman in the Window and The Big Heat probed America's past.

Suggested Filmography: Dr. Mabuse: the Gambler (1922), Siegfried (1924), Kriemhild's Revenge (1924), Metropolis (1927), M (1931), The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), Fury (1936), You Only Live Once (1937), The Return of Frank James (1940), Man Hunt (1941), Western Union (1941), Hangmen Also Die (1943), Ministry of Fear (1944), The Woman in the Window (1944), Scarlet Street (1945), Cloak and Dagger (1946), Clash By Night (1952), Rancho Notorious (1952), The Big Heat (1953), The Blue Gardenia (1953), Moonfleet (1955), Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956), Human Desire (1954), While the City Sleeps (1956).

JOHN LASSETER 1957-
Pioneering Director of Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) in Animated Films

Suggested Filmography: Luxo Jr. (1986) (short film), The Brave Little Toaster (1987) (animator), Tin Toy (1988) (short film), Toy Story (1995), A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001) (executive producer), Spirited Away (2001, Jp.) (executive producer), Finding Nemo (2003) (executive producer), Howl's Moving Castle (2004, Jp.) (executive producer), The Incredibles (2004) (executive producer), Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007) (executive producer), WALL-E (2008) (executive producer), Bolt (2008) (executive producer), Up (2009) (executive producer), The Princess and the Frog (2009) (executive producer), Toy Story 3 (2010) (executive producer), Cars 2 (2011).


DAVID LEAN 1908-1991
British-Born Director of Lavish, Breathtaking and Exotic Epics

From Lawrence of Arabia to Doctor Zhivago, his movies proved that no desert is as deep or wide as the landscape of the human heart.

Suggested Filmography: In Which We Serve (1942), This Happy Breed (1944), Blithe Spirit (1945), Brief Encounter (1946), Great Expectations (1946), Oliver Twist (1948), The Sound Barrier (1952), Hobson's Choice (1954), Summertime (1955), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), Ryan's Daughter (1970), A Passage to India (1984).


SPIKE LEE 1957-
Talented, Provocative, African-American Film-maker/Producer/Writer Who Explored Racial Themes

This African-American filmmaker provoked discussion via Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, and Summer of Sam.

Suggested Filmography: She's Gotta Have It (1986), School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo' Better Blues (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), Malcolm X (1992), Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995), Get on the Bus (1996), Girl 6 (1996), 4 Little Girls (1997), He Got Game (1998), Summer of Sam (1999), Bamboozled (2000), The Original Kings of Comedy (2000), The 25th Hour (2002), She Hate Me (2004), Inside Man (2006), Miracle at St. Anna (2008), Red Hook Summer (2012), Oldboy (2013), Chi-Raq (2015).


SERGIO LEONE 1929-1989
Creator of Genre of Italian "Spaghetti" Westerns Starring the "Man With No Name"

Known for his European westerns, almost all stylistic masterpieces in their own right, that he supplemented with iconic music.

Suggested Filmography: The Dollars Trilogy: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For A Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, It.), A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), Once Upon a Time in America (1984).


JERRY LEWIS 1926-2017
Director, Comedic Actor, and Producer

Suggested Filmography: The Bellboy (1960), The Ladies' Man (1961), The Nutty Professor (1963), The Family Jewels (1965).


ERNST LUBITSCH 1892-1947
German-Born Director, 'Continental' Comedy Film-maker, Known for His Sophisticated, Graceful, and Witty 'Lubitsch Touch'

Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner, and To Be or Not to Be have a unique Continental style that defies remaking.

Suggested Filmography: Carmen (Gypsy Blood) (1918, 1921), The Marriage Circle (1924), The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927), The Love Parade (1929), Monte Carlo (1930), One Hour With You (1932), If I Had a Million (1932), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Design For Living (1933), The Merry Widow (1934), Angel (1937), Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938), Ninotchka (1939), The Shop Around the Corner (1940), That Uncertain Feeling (1941), To Be Or Not To Be (1942), Heaven Can Wait (1943), A Royal Scandal (1945), Cluny Brown (1946), That Lady in Ermine (1948).


GEORGE LUCAS 1944-
Influential Executive Producer/Director and Re-Definer of the Special Effects Industry

Not only did he create the Star Wars mythos, but he drove the development of widely used sound and special-effects technology.

Suggested Filmography: Herbie (1966), THX-1138 (1971), American Graffiti (1973), The Star Wars Trilogy: Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (producer only), Return of the Jedi (1983) (producer only); Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (producer), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (producer), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (producer), Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).



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