Greatest Film Directors
and Their Best Films

Part 4

Greatest Film Directors
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 sources are indicated by icons in Filmsite's compilation:

Entries in Entertainment Weekly's (April 19, 1996 issue) list of "The 50 Greatest Directors and Their 100 Best Movies" in a cover-story article - with ranking number (#)
Entries in the UK Empire Magazine's "Top 40 Greatest Directors of All-Time" conducted in 2005 - with ranking number (#)
Filmsite's selections of the "50 Greatest Film Directors" - without ranking numbers.

The Greatest Directors and Their Best Films
Part 4
(Alphabetical Order, Unranked)

Exceptional, Articulate Producer/Writer/Director of Intelligent, Sophisticated Films; Member of Famed Mankiewicz Film Family

From the weepie A Letter to Three Wives to the bitch-fest All About Eve, his movies are articulate and wickedly entertaining.

Suggested Filmography: Dragonwyck (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), All About Eve (1950), No Way Out (1950), People Will Talk (1951), Five Fingers (1952), Julius Caesar (1953), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), Cleopatra (1963), The Honey Pot (1967), There Was a Crooked Man... (1970), Sleuth (1972).

# 23
Modern-Day Master of Action/Crime Films

Suggested Filmography: Thief (1981), The Keep (1983), Manhunter (1986), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Heat (1995), The Insider (1999), Ali (2001), Collateral (2004), Miami Vice (2006), Public Enemies (2009).

LEO McCAREY 1898-1969
Masterful Director of Comedies and Films with Sentiment

Suggested Filmography: Big Business (1929), Duck Soup (1933), Belle of the Nineties (1934), Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), The Milky Way (1936), The Awful Truth (1937), Make Way For Tomorrow (1937), Love Affair (1939), Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), Going My Way (1944), The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), Good Sam (1948), Love Happy (1950), An Affair to Remember (1957), Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958).

Noted for War Films in Various Decades

Suggested Filmography: The Kid Brother (1927), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), The Front Page (1931), Rain (1932), Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (1933), The General Died at Dawn (1936), Of Mice and Men (1939), The Westerner (1940) (uncredited), Edge of Darkness (1942), The Purple Heart (1944), A Walk in the Sun (1945), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Arch of Triumph (1948), The Red Pony (1949), Halls of Montezuma (1950), Pork Chop Hill (1959), Ocean's Eleven (1960), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).

# 32
Known for Screen Adaptations of Novels

Suggested Filmography: Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991), Mr. Wonderful (1993), The English Patient (1996), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Play (2000), Cold Mountain (2003), Breaking and Entering (2006).

# 20
Masterful Director of Memorable Musicals With Integrated Song and Dance

He dissected show business in both musicals (An American in Paris) and melodramas (The Bad and the Beautiful).

Suggested Filmography: Cabin in the Sky (1943), Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), The Clock (1945), Yolanda and the Thief (1945), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Undercurrent (1946), Till the Clouds Roll By (1947), The Pirate (1948), Madame Bovary (1949), The Father of the Bride (1950), An American in Paris (1951), Father's Little Dividend (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), The Band Wagon (1953), Brigadoon (1954), Kismet (1955), The Cobweb (1955), Lust for Life (1956), Tea and Sympathy (1956), Designing Woman (1957), Gigi (1958), The Reluctant Debutante (1958), Some Came Running (1958), Bells Are Ringing (1960), Home From the Hill (1960), Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1961), Two Weeks in Another Town (1963), The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963), Goodbye Charlie (1964), The Sandpiper (1965), On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970).

Revered Japanese Animator and Director, Known as "the Japanese Walt Disney"

Suggested Filmography (Jp.): Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds (1984, Jp.), Castle in the Sky (1986, Jp.), My Neighbor Totoro (1988, Jp.), Kiki's Delivery Service (1989, Jp.), Porco Rosso (1992, Jp.), Pom Poko (1994, Jp.) (writer), Whisper of the Heart (1995, Jp.) (writer), Princess Mononoke (1997, Jp.), Spirited Away (2001, Jp.), Howl's Moving Castle (2004, Jp.), Ponyo (2008), The Wind Rises (2013).

# 33
F. W. MURNAU 1888-1931
Influential, German-Born Silent Film Director Influenced by Poetic and Dark Expressionism

Suggested Filmography: Nosferatu, the Vampire (1922), The Last Laugh (1924), Tartuff (1926), Faust (1926), Sunrise (1927), City Girl (Our Daily Bread) (1930), Tabu (1931).

MIKE NICHOLS 1931-2014
Play Director Turned Film Director of Comedies and Dramas

Trained in improv theater, he specializes in character-driven comedies and dramas -- The Graduate, Silkwood, and Closer.

Suggested Filmography: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Graduate (1967), Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Day of the Dolphin (1973), The Fortune (1975), Gilda Live (1980), Silkwood (1983), Heartburn (1986), Working Girl (1988), Biloxi Blues (1988), Postcards From the Edge (1990), Regarding Henry (1991), Wolf (1994), The Birdcage (1996), Primary Colors (1998), What Planet Are You From? (2000), Wit (2001), Angels in America (2003) (HBO miniseries), Closer (2004), Charlie Wilson's War (2007).

# 39
MAX OPHULS 1902-1957
German-Born European Expatriate Famous For Fluid Tracking Shots and Emphasis on Mise-en-Scene

Suggested Filmography: Liebelei (1933), Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948), Caught (1949), The Reckless Moment (1949), La Ronde (1950), Le Plaisir (1952), The Earrings of Madame De... (1953), Lola Montes (1955).

# 32
# 20
Iconoclastic, Controversial, Ground-Breaking, Maverick Film-Maker (aka "Mad Sam")

He upped onscreen violence in his controversial Westerns and dramas, including The Wild Bunch and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

Suggested Filmography: Ride the High Country (1962), Major Dundee (1965), The Wild Bunch (1969), The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), Straw Dogs (1971), The Getaway (1972), Junior Bonner (1972), Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), The Killer Elite (1975), Cross of Iron (1977), Convoy (1978), The Osterman Weekend (1983).

ARTHUR PENN 1922-2010
Skilled, Perceptive Director of Actors

After the Freudian western The Left Handed Gun, he made New Hollywood classics Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man, and Night Moves.

Suggested Filmography: The Left-Handed Gun (1958), The Miracle Worker (1962), The Train (1964) (replaced by John Frankenheimer), Mickey One (1965), The Chase (1966), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Alice's Restaurant (1969), Little Big Man (1970), Night Moves (1975), The Missouri Breaks (1976), Four Friends (1981), Target (1985), Dead of Winter (1987), Penn & Teller Get Killed/Dead Funny (1989).

# 26
Notorious, French-Born, Polish-Educated Successor to Alfred Hitchcock

In Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby, this international moviemaker probed dark passions and destructive desires.

Suggested Filmography: Knife in the Water (1963), Repulsion (1965), Cul-De-Sac (1966), The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck (1967), Rosemary's Baby (1968), Macbeth (1971), Chinatown (1974), The Tenant (1976), Tess (1979), Pirates (1986), Frantic (1988), Bitter Moon (1992), Death and the Maiden (1994), The Ninth Gate (1999), The Pianist (2002), Oliver Twist (2005), To Each His Cinema (2007), The Ghostwriter (2010), Carnage (2011), Venus in Fur (2013).

Important Director of Hollywood Stars from the 70s through the 90s; also Profilic Producer and Actor

Suggested Filmography: The Slender Thread (1965), This Property is Condemned (1966), The Swimmer (1968) (uncredited), Castle Keep (1969), They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Way We Were (1973), Three Days of the Condor (1975), The Yakuza (1975), Bobby Deerfield (1977), The Electric Horseman (1979), Absence of Malice (1981), Tootsie (1982) (actor, producer, director), Out of Africa (1985), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) (ex. producer), Presumed Innocent (1990) (producer), Havana (1990), Dead Again (1991) (producer), The Firm (1993), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) (producer), Sabrina (1995), Sense and Sensibility (1995) (producer), Random Hearts (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (ex. producer), Blow Dry (2001) (ex. producer), Heaven (2002) (ex. producer), The Interpreter (2005), Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005).

# 22
(and EMERIC PRESSBURGER 1902-1988)

British Director/Screenwriter Duo of Visually-Impressive Films

The U.K. screenwriter-director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made popular art movies like Black Narcissus and Peeping Tom.

Suggested Filmography: The Man Behind the Mask (1936) (Powell only), The Edge of the World (1937), The Thief of Bagdad (1940), 49th Parallel (1941), One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), I Know Where I'm Going (1945), A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948), The Small Black Room (1949), The Elusive Pimpernel (1950), The Tales of Hoffman (1951), Peeping Tom (1960) (Powell only), Age of Consent (1969).

# 47
Serious Austrian-Born Independent Producer/Director and Outspoken Taboo Breaker Who Challenged the Film Production Codes

After the film noir Laura, he challenged movie censors with drug abuse, in The Man With the Golden Arm, and rape, in Anatomy of a Murder.

Suggested Filmography: Laura (1944) (replaced Mamoulian), Daisy Kenyon (1947), Forever Amber (1947), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Angel Face (1952), The Moon Is Blue (1953), Carmen Jones (1954), River of No Return (1954), The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955), The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), Saint Joan (1957), Bonjour Tristesse (1958), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Porgy and Bess (1959), Exodus (1960), Advise and Consent (1962), The Cardinal (1963), In Harm's Way (1965), Bunny Lake is Missing (1965), Hurry Sundown (1967), Skidoo (1968), Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970).

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