The Best Directors Ever - 1940s

by dziwnytenswiat | created - 8 months ago | updated - 5 days ago | Public

Points from my "The Best Films Ever Made"-Lists. Vol. 1 = 100%, Vol. 2 = 50%, Vol. 3 = 33%, Vol. 4 = 25%, Vol. 5 = 20 %, Vol. 6 = 17%

1. Alfred Hitchcock

Director | Psycho

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and ...

4143 points

2. Preston Sturges

Writer | The Great McGinty

Preston Sturges' own life is as unlikely as some of the plots of his best work. He was born into a wealthy family. As a boy he helped out on stage productions for his mother's friend, Isadora Duncan (the scarf that strangled her was made by his mother's company, Maison Desti). He served in the U.S....

3383 points

3. Yasujirô Ozu

Director | Tôkyô monogatari

Tokyo-born Yasujiro Ozu was a movie buff from childhood, often playing hooky from school in order to see Hollywood movies in his local theatre. In 1923 he landed a job as a camera assistant at Shochiku Studios in Tokyo. Three years later, he was made an assistant director and directed his first ...

2749 points

4. William Wyler

Director | Ben-Hur

William Wyler was an American filmmaker who, at the time of his death in 1981, was considered by his peers as second only to John Ford as a master craftsman of cinema. The winner of three Best Director Academy Awards, second again only to Ford's four, Wyler's reputation has unfairly suffered as the...

2602 points

5. Billy Wilder

Writer | The Apartment

Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city's largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929 and wrote scripts for many ...

2557 points

6. Howard Hawks

Director | Red River

What do the classic films Scarface (1932), Twentieth Century (1934), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Sergeant York (1941), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Red River (1948) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Rio Bravo (1959) have in...

2549 points

7. Michael Powell

Director | A Matter of Life and Death

The son of Thomas William Powell and Mabel (nee Corbett). Michael Powell was always a self-confessed movie addict. He was brought up partly in Canterbury ("The Garden of England") and partly in the south of France (where his parents ran a hotel). Educated at Kings School, Canterbury and Dulwich ...

2510 points

8. John Huston

Director | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

An eccentric rebel of epic proportions, this Hollywood titan reigned supreme as director, screenwriter and character actor in a career that endured over five decades. The ten-time Oscar-nominated legend was born John Marcellus Huston in Nevada, Missouri, on August 5, 1906. His ancestry was English,...

2412 points

9. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was six) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr. ...

2364 points

10. Carol Reed

Director | The Third Man

Carol Reed was the second son of stage actor, dramatics teacher and impresario founder of the Royal School of Dramatic Arts Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Reed was one of Tree's six illegitimate children with Beatrice Mae Pinney, who Tree established in a second household apart from his married life. ...

2353 points

11. Fritz Lang

Actor | Le mépris

Fritz Lang was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1890. His father managed a construction company. His mother, Pauline Schlesinger, was Jewish but converted to Catholicism when Lang was ten. After high school, he enrolled briefly at the Technische Hochschule Wien and then started to train as a painter. ...

2244 points

12. Emeric Pressburger

Writer | A Matter of Life and Death

Educated at the Universities of Prague and Stuttgart, Emeric Pressburger worked as a journalist in Hungary and Germany and an author and scriptwriter in Berlin and Paris. He was a Hungarian Jew, chased around Europe (he worked on films for UFA in Berlin and Paris) before World War II, finally ...

2140 points

13. Ernst Lubitsch

Director | To Be or Not to Be

From Ernst Lubitsch's experiences in Sophien Gymnasium (high school) theater, he decided to leave school at the age of 16 and pursue a career on the stage. He had to compromise with his father and keep the account books for the family tailor business while he acted in cabarets and music halls at ...

2124 points

14. Michael Curtiz

Director | Casablanca

Curtiz began acting in and then directing films in his native Hungary in 1912. After WWI, he continued his filmmaking career in Austria and Germany and into the early 1920s when he directed films in other countries in Europe. Moving to the US in 1926, he started making films in Hollywood for Warner...

2119 points

15. George Cukor

Director | My Fair Lady

George Cukor was born on July 7, 1899 in Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA as George Dewey Cukor. He is known for his work on My Fair Lady (1964), The Philadelphia Story (1940) and Les Girls (1957). He died on January 24, 1983 in Beverly Grove, Los Angeles, California, USA.

2047 points

16. Roberto Rossellini

Writer | Paisà

The master filmmaker Roberto Rossellini, as one of the creators of neo-realism, is one of the most influential directors of all time. His neo-realist films influenced France's nouvelle vague movement in the 1950s and '60s that changed the face of international cinema. He also influenced American ...

2025 points

17. Vittorio De Sica

Director | Ladri di biciclette

Vittorio De Sica grew up in Naples, and started out as an office clerk in order to raise money to support his poor family. He was increasingly drawn towards acting, and made his screen debut while still in his teens, joining a stage company in 1923. By the late 1920s he was a successful matinee ...

1928 points

18. David Lean

Director | Lawrence of Arabia

An important British filmmaker, David Lean was born in Croydon on March 25, 1908 and brought up in a strict Quaker family (ironically, as a child he wasn't allowed to go to the movies). During the 1920s, he briefly considered the possibility of becoming an accountant like his father before finding ...

1791 points

19. Julien Duvivier

Writer | Le paquebot Tenacity

Revered by such legendary fellow directors as Ingmar Bergman and Jean Renoir, Julien Duvivier is one of the greatest figures in the history of French cinema and of world cinema in general. He is perhaps the most neglected of the "Big Five" of classic French cinema (the other four being Jean Renoir,...

1729 points

20. Frank Capra

Director | It's a Wonderful Life

One of seven children, Frank Capra was born on May 18, 1897, in Bisacquino, Sicily. On May 10, 1903, his family left for America aboard the ship Germania, arriving in New York on May 23rd. "There's no ventilation, and it stinks like hell. They're all miserable. It's the most degrading place you ...

1713 points

21. Raoul Walsh

Director | Sadie Thompson

Raoul Walsh's 52-year directorial career made him a Hollywood legend. Walsh was also an actor: He appeared in the first version of W. Somerset Maugham's "Rain" renamed Sadie Thompson (1928) opposite Gloria Swanson in the title role. He would have played the Cisco Kid in his own film In Old Arizona ...

1708 points

22. Vincent Sherman

Director | Affair in Trinidad

Vincent Sherman was born on July 16, 1906 in Vienna, Georgia, USA as Abraham Orovitz. He was a director and actor, known for Affair in Trinidad (1952), All Through the Night (1942) and Adventures of Don Juan (1948). He was married to Hedda Comoro. He died on June 18, 2006 in Woodland Hills, Los ...

1691 points

23. Anatole Litvak

Director | The Snake Pit

The distinguished film director Anatole Litvak was born in the Ukrainian city of Kiev, the son of Jewish parents. His very first job was as a stage hand. In 1915, he became an actor, performing at a little-known experimental theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. As a teenager, he witnessed the 1917 ...

1531 points

24. William Dieterle

Actor | Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage

Born in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Wilhelm Dieterle was the youngest of nine children of parents Jacob and Berthe Dieterle. They lived in poverty, and when he was old enough to work, young Wilhelm earned money as a carpenter and a scrap dealer. He dreamed of better things, though, and theater caught ...

1512 points

25. Robert Siodmak

Director | Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam

The director Robert Siodmak (which he insisted, be pronounced 'See-odd-mack') was a masterful film maker who successfully blended the techniques of German Expressionism with contemporary styles of American film, particularly film noir, in the process creating a handful of moody, sometimes chilling,...

1492 points

26. Henry Hathaway

Director | True Grit

Henry Hathaway, son of a stage actress and manager, started his career as a child actor in westerns directed by Allan Dwan. His movie career was interrupted by World War I. After his discharge he briefly tried a career in finance but returned to Hollywood to work as an assistant director under such...

1480 points

27. John Ford

Director | The Quiet Man

John Ford came to Hollywood following one of his brothers, an actor. Asked what brought him to Hollywood, he replied "The train". He became one of the most respected directors in the business, in spite of being known for his westerns, which were not considered "serious" film. He won six Oscars, ...

1364 points

28. Jean Negulesco

Director | Boy on a Dolphin

Jean Negulesco made his reputation as a director of both polished, popular entertainments as well as critically acclaimed dramatic pictures in the 1940s and 1950s. Born in Craiova, Romania, he left home at age 12, ending up in Paris. He earned some money washing dishes, which paid for his art ...

1327 points

29. Jules Dassin

Director | Pote tin Kyriaki

Jules Dassin was an Academy Award-nominated director, screenwriter and actor best known for his films Rififi (1955), Never on Sunday (1960), and Topkapi (1964).

He was born Julius Samuel Dassin on 18 December 1911, in Middletown, Connecticut, USA. He was one of eight children of Russian-Jewish ...

1315 points

30. Elia Kazan

Director | On the Waterfront

Known for his creative stage direction, Elia Kazan was born Elias Kazantzoglou on September 7, 1909 in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul, Turkey). Noted for drawing out the best dramatic performances from his actors, he directed 21 actors to Oscar nominations, resulting in nine wins. He ...

1289 points

31. H.C. Potter

Director | The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle

H.C. Potter was born on November 13, 1904 in New York City, New York, USA as Henry Codman Potter. He was a director and writer, known for The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), Hellzapoppin' (1941) and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). He was married to Lucilla Annie Wylie. He died...

1151 points

32. Irving Rapper

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Irving Rapper was one of the last surviving directors from the "Golden Age of Hollywood", passing away on Dec. 20, 1999, at the age of 101, four weeks shy of his 102nd birthday. Rapper is best remembered for the films he made with Bette Davis, including the classics Now, Voyager (1942) and The Corn...

1131 points

33. George Stevens

Director | Giant

George Stevens, a filmmaker known as a meticulous craftsman with a brilliant eye for composition and a sensitive touch with actors, is one of the great American filmmakers, ranking with John Ford, William Wyler and Howard Hawks as a creator of classic Hollywood cinema, bringing to the screen ...

1093 points

34. Alexander Hall

Director | Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Making his stage debut in 1898 at age four, Alexander Hall entered films in 1914 as an actor. Leaving the film industry to serve in the American army in World War I, he returned from military service in 1917 and re-entered the business, but this time as an editor and assistant director. He made his...

1082 points

35. Luchino Visconti

Writer | Rocco e i suoi fratelli

Luchino Visconti was born on November 2, 1906 in Milan, Lombardy, Italy as Luchino Visconti di Modrone. He was a writer and director, known for Rocco and His Brothers (1960), Death in Venice (1971) and Le Notti Bianche (1957). He died on March 17, 1976 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

1080 points

36. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...

1067 points

37. Marcel Carné

Director | Le quai des brumes

Marcel Carné, the son of a cabinet maker, entered the movies as the assistant of Jacques Feyder. At the age of 25 he directed his first movie Jenny (1936). Colaborating with the writer Jacques Prévert, the decorator Alexandre Trauner, the musician and composer Maurice Jaubert and the actor Jean ...

1041 points

38. William A. Wellman

Director | A Star Is Born

William Wellman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter-director of the original A Star Is Born (1937), was called "Wild Bill" during his World War I service as an aviator, a nickname that persisted in Hollywood due to his larger-than-life personality and lifestyle.

A leap-year baby born in 1896 on the 29th...

983 points

39. Akira Kurosawa

Writer | Kakushi-toride no san-akunin

After training as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), Kurosawa entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, eventually making his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater...

966 points

40. Otto Preminger

Director | Anatomy of a Murder

Otto Ludwig Preminger was born in Wiznitz, Bukovina, Austria-Hungary. His father was a prosecutor, and Otto originally intended to follow his father into a law career; however, he fell in love with the theater and became a stage director. He directed his first film in 1931, and came to the US in ...

952 points

41. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Writer | All About Eve

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on February 11, 1909, Joseph Leo Mankiewicz first worked for the movies as a translator of intertitles, employed by Paramount in Berlin, the UFA's American distributor at the time (1928). He became a dialoguist, then a screenwriter on numerous Paramount ...

907 points

42. Fred Zinnemann

Director | From Here to Eternity

Initially grew up wanting to be a violinist, but while at the University of Vienna decided to study law. While doing so, he became increasingly interested in American film and decided that was what he wanted to do. He became involved in European filmaking for a short time before going to America to...

906 points

43. Frank Borzage

Director | No Greater Glory

Frank Borzage was born on April 23, 1894 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. He was an actor and director, known for No Greater Glory (1934), 7th Heaven (1927) and Bad Girl (1931). He was married to Juanita Scott, Edna Skelton and Rena Rogers. He died on June 19, 1962 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, ...

904 points

44. Sam Wood

Director | Ivy

Following a two-year apprenticeship under Cecil B. DeMille as assistant director, Samuel Grosvenor Wood had the good fortune to have assigned to him two of the biggest stars at Paramount during their heyday: Wallace Reid (between 1919 and 1920) and Gloria Swanson (from 1921 to 1923). By the time ...

902 points

45. Géza von Radványi

Writer | Európa nem válaszol

Géza von Radványi was born on December 17, 1907 in Kassa, Hungary, Austria-Hungary as Géza Grosschmid. He was a writer and director, known for Európa nem válaszol (1941), Uncle Tom's Cabin (1965) and Mädchen in Uniform (1958). He was married to Mária Tasnádi Fekete and Eva ...

823 points

46. Giuseppe De Santis

Writer | Caccia tragica

Giuseppe De Santis was born on February 11, 1917 in Fondi, Lazio, Italy. He was a writer and director, known for Tragic Hunt (1947), Days of Love (1954) and Bitter Rice (1949). He was married to Gordana Miletic. He died on May 16, 1997 in Rome, Lazio.

808 points

47. Anthony Asquith

Director | The Browning Version

British film director Anthony Asquith was born on November 9, 1902, to H.H. Asquith, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his second wife. A former home secretary and the future leader of the Liberal Party, H.H. Asquith served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1908-1916 and was ...

803 points

48. Jacques Tourneur

Director | Out of the Past

Born in Paris in 1904, Tourneur went to Hollywood with his father, director Maurice Tourneur around 1913. He started out as a script clerk and editor for his father, then graduated to such jobs as directing shorts (often with the pseudonym Jack Turner), both in France and America. He was hired to ...

767 points

49. Mervyn LeRoy

Producer | The Wizard of Oz

The great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 was a tragedy for Mervyn LeRoy. While he and his father managed to survive, they lost everything they had. To make money, LeRoy sold newspapers and entered talent contests as a singer. When he entered vaudeville, his act was "LeRoy and Cooper--Two...

751 points

50. Clarence Brown

Director | Anna Karenina

Clarence Leon Brown was the son of Larkin Harry and Catherine Ann (Gaw) Brown of Clinton, Massachusetts. His family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, when he was 12 years old. He graduated from Knoxville High School in 1905 and from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in mechanical and electrical ...

704 points

51. Mitchell Leisen

Director | Death Takes a Holiday

Mitchell Leisen was born on October 6, 1898 in Menominee, Michigan, USA as James Mitchell Leisen. He was a director and art director, known for Death Takes a Holiday (1934), The Mating Season (1951) and Hold Back the Dawn (1941). He was married to Sandra Gahle. He died on October 28, 1972 in ...

700 points

52. Edward Dmytryk

Director | Crossfire

Edward Dmytryk grew up in San Francisco, the son of Ukrainian immigrants. After his mother died when he was 6, his strict disciplinarian father beat the boy frequently, and the child began running away while in his early teens. Eventually, juvenile authorities allowed him to live alone at the age ...

699 points

53. Edmund Goulding

Director | Grand Hotel

London-born Edmund Goulding was an actor/playwright/director on the London stage, and entered the British army when WWI broke out. Mustered out of the service because of wounds suffered in battle, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1921. He obtained assignments as a screenwriter in Hollywood, wrote a ...

696 points

54. Henri-Georges Clouzot

Writer | Le salaire de la peur

Beginning his film career as a screenwriter, Henri-Georges Clouzot switched over to directing and in 1943 had the distinction of having his film Le Corbeau (1943) banned by both the German forces occupying France and the Free French forces fighting them, but for different reasons. He shot to ...

663 points

55. Max Ophüls

Director | La ronde

Director Max Ophüls was born Max Oppenheimer in Saarbrücken, Germany. He began his career as a stage actor and director in the golden twenties. He worked in cities such as Stuttgart, Dortmund, Wuppertal, Vienna, Frankfurt, Breslau and Berlin. In 1929 his son Marcel Ophüls was born in Frankfurt, ...

653 points

56. Lloyd Bacon

Director | Wonder Bar

One of the workhorses in Warner Brothers' stable of directors in the 1930s, Lloyd Bacon didn't have a career as loaded with classic films as many of his more famous contemporaries. What few "classics" he had his hand in (42nd Street (1933), Footlight Parade (1933)) are so overshadowed by the ...

623 points

57. Charles Barton

Director | A Man's World

Charles T. Barton was born in Oakland, CA, on May 25, 1902. His father managed a candy store, and soon moved the family to Los Angeles, where Charles, nicknamed "Charlie", got a job at age 15 acting as an extra in silent movies. He eventually left acting for a job behind the camera as an assistant ...

582 points

58. Robert Wise

Director | West Side Story

Robert Earl Wise was born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Indiana, the youngest of three sons of Olive R. (Longenecker) and Earl Waldo Wise, a meat packer. His parents were both of Pennsylvania Dutch (German) descent. At age nineteen, the avid moviegoer came into the film business through an ...

579 points

59. Delmer Daves

Writer | An Affair to Remember

Although Delmer Daves obtained a law degree at Stanford University, he never had the opportunity to use it; while still in college, he obtained a job as a prop boy on The Covered Wagon (1923) and after graduation was hired by several film companies as a technical advisor on films with a college ...

569 points

60. John Cromwell

Director | The Prisoner of Zenda

Actor / director John Cromwell was born December 23, 1887, in Toledo, OH. He made his Broadway debut on October 14, 1912, in Marian De Forest's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" at the Playhouse Theatre. The show was a hit, running for a total of 184 performances. Cromwell appeared ...

556 points

61. Jack Conway

Director | Viva Villa!

Born Hugh Ryan Conway of Irish ancestry, Jack Conway was one of a team of MGM contract directors (others included Sam Wood and Robert Z. Leonard), who forsook any pretense to a specific individual style in favor of working within the strictures set forth by studio management--as embodied by Irving ...

540 points

62. Robert Hamer

Director | Kind Hearts and Coronets

Robert James Hamer was born in 1911 along with his twin sister Barbara, the son of Owen Dyke Hamer, a bank clerk, and his wife, Annie Grace Brickell. He was educated at Cambridge University where he wrote some poetry and was published in a collection 'Contemporaries and Their Maker', along with the...

539 points

63. Jean Renoir

Writer | La grande illusion

Son of the famous Impressionist painter Pierre Auguste, he had a happy childhood. Pierre Renoir was his brother, and Claude Renoir was his nephew. After the end of World War I, where he won the Croix de Guerre, he moved from scriptwriting to filmmaking. He married Catherine Hessling, for whom he ...

521 points

64. Irving Pichel

Director | Destination Moon

Irving Pichel was born on June 24, 1891 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He was an actor and director, known for Destination Moon (1950), Without Honor (1949) and Tomorrow Is Forever (1946). He was married to Violette Wilson. He died on July 13, 1954 in Hollywood, California, USA.

512 points

65. King Vidor

Director | Hallelujah

King Vidor was an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter of Hungarian descent. He was born in Galveston, Texas to lumberman Charles Shelton Vidor and his wife Kate Wallis. King's paternal grandfather Károly (Charles) Vidor had fled Hungary as a refugee following the failed ...

511 points

66. Charles Vidor

Director | Gilda

Hungarian-born Karoly Vidor spent the First World War as a lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian infantry. Following the armistice, he made his way to Berlin and worked for the German film company Ufa, as editor and assistant director. In 1924, he emigrated to the U.S. and, for several years, earned ...

511 points

67. John Farrow

Writer | Around the World in 80 Days

John Farrow wrote short stories and plays during his four-year career in the navy. In the late 1920s he came to Hollywood as a technical advisor for a film about Marines and stayed as a screenwriter, from A Sailor's Sweetheart (1927) through Tarzan Escapes (1936). He married Tarzan's Jane, Maureen ...

506 points

68. William Keighley

Director | The Adventures of Robin Hood

William Keighley's professional career spanned three distinct mediums: the theatre, motion pictures and, finally, radio. Initially trained as a stage actor and Broadway director, he arrived in Hollywood shortly after the advent of sound, landing a job with Warner Brothers (where he spent most of ...

492 points

69. Lewis Milestone

Director | All Quiet on the Western Front

Lewis Milestone, a clothing manufacturer's son, was born in Bessarabia (now Moldova), raised in Odessa (Ukraine) and educated in Belgium and Berlin (where he studied engineering). He was fluent in both German and Russian and an avid reader. Milestone had an affinity for the theatre from an early ...

438 points

70. Robert Rossen

Writer | The Hustler

Robert Rossen was born on March 16, 1908 in New York City, New York, USA as Robert Rosen. He was a writer and director, known for The Hustler (1961), All the King's Men (1949) and Lilith (1964). He was married to Susan Siegal. He died on February 18, 1966 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA.

408 points

71. René Clair

Writer | Le silence est d'or

René Clair was born on November 11, 1898 in Paris, France as René-Lucien Chomette. He was a writer and director, known for Man About Town (1947), The Grand Maneuver (1955) and The Gates of Paris (1957). He was married to Bronia Clair. He died on March 15, 1981 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, ...

400 points

72. Albert Lewin

Writer | The Picture of Dorian Gray

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 657-661. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.

397 points

73. Robert Stevenson

Director | Mary Poppins

Robert Stevenson was born on March 31, 1905 in Buxton, Derbyshire, England as Robert Edward Stevenson. He was a director and writer, known for Mary Poppins (1964), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and King Solomon's Mines (1937). He was married to Ursula Henderson, Frances Holyoke Howard, Anna Lee ...

397 points

74. Jean Cocteau

Writer | La belle et la bête

Jean Cocteau was one of the most multi-talented artists of the 20th century. In addition to being a director, he was a poet, novelist, painter, playwright, set designer, and actor. He began writing at 10 and was a published poet by age 16. He collaborated with the "Russian Ballet" company of Sergei...

397 points

75. Carl Theodor Dreyer

Director | Ordet

The illegitimate son of a Danish farmer and his Swedish housekeeper, Carl Theodor Dreyer was born in Copenhagen on the 3th of February, 1889. He spent his early years in various foster homes before being adopted by the Dreyers at the age of two. Contrary to popular belief (perhaps nourished by the ...

394 points

76. Roy Del Ruth

Director | It Happened on Fifth Avenue

Roy Del Ruth was born on Oct. 18, 1895, in Philadelphia, PA. He began his Hollywood career as a writer for Mack Sennett in 1915. He began directing in 1919 for Sennett with the two-reeler Hungry Lions and Tender Hearts (1920). In the early 1920s he moved over to features with such efforts as Asleep...

394 points

77. Rudolf Jugert

Director | Nachts auf den Straßen

Rudolf Jugert was born on September 30, 1907 in Hannover, Germany as Rudolf Gustav Wilhelm Jugert. He was a director and assistant director, known for The Mistress (1952), Film Without a Name (1948) and Die feuerrote Baronesse (1959). He died on April 14, 1979 in Munich, Bavaria, West Germany.

392 points

78. Alf Sjöberg

Director | Fröken Julie

Alf Sjöberg was born on June 21, 1903 in Stockholm, Stockholms län, Sweden. He was a director and writer, known for Miss Julie (1951), The Island (1966) and Only a Mother (1949). He died on April 16, 1980 in Stockholm.

390 points

79. Garson Kanin

Writer | Adam's Rib

Garson Kanin has worked as an actor on stage and as a director on Broadway and in Hollywood, but his best-known work is as a writer. During the Great Depression, he dropped out of high school to help support his family by working as a musician and later as a comedian. He attended the American ...

389 points

80. Laurence Olivier

Actor | Sleuth

Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett, who met Olivier in 1927.

Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High ...

374 points

81. Tay Garnett

Director | China Seas

Following his service as a naval aviator in WW I, Tay Garnett entered films in 1920 as a screenwriter. After a stint as a gag writer for Mack Sennett and Hal Roach he joined Pathe, then the distributor for both competing comedy producers, and in 1928 began directing for that company. Garnett ...

373 points

82. Vincente Minnelli

Director | An American in Paris

Born Lester Anthony Minnelli in Chicago on February 28 1903, his father Vincent was a musical conductor of the Minnelli Brothers' Tent Theater. Wanting to pursue an artistic career, Minelli worked in the costume department of the Chicago Theater, then on Broadway during the depression as a set ...

372 points

83. John Brahm

Director | The Twilight Zone

The son of comedian and theatre director Ludwig Brahm, Hans followed in his father's footsteps and began his career on the stages of Vienna, Berlin and Paris. Again, like his father, he graduated to directing and had his first fling with the film business as a dialogue director for a Franco/German ...

372 points

84. Helmut Käutner

Director | Der Hauptmann von Köpenick

Helmut Käutner was born on March 25, 1908 in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany as Paul Günther Helmut Käutner. He was a director and writer, known for The Captain from Köpenick (1956), The Last Bridge (1954) and The Rest Is Silence (1959). He was married to Erica Balqué. He died on ...

372 points

85. Wolfgang Staudte

Director | Ciske de Rat

Wolfgang Staudte was born on October 9, 1906 in Saarbrücken, Germany as Wolfgang Georg Friedrich Staudte. He was a director and actor, known for Ciske de Rat (1955), Rotation (1949) and Murderers Among Us (1946). He was married to Angelika Hoffmann, Rita Heidelbach, Ingmar Zeisberg and Renate ...

371 points

86. Arthur Lubin

Director | Phantom of the Opera

A graduate of Carnegie Tech, Arthur Lubin entered films as an actor in the 1920s, and after appearing in many films turned to directing in 1934, mainly for Universal. His forte was light comedy, but he helmed many different types of pictures for the studio. Lubin was the director Universal ...

332 points

87. Irving Reis

Director | The Four Poster

Received numerous awards for his pioneering work in radio drama, including honors from the National Radio Committee for "Half-Pint Flask".

332 points

88. Roy Rowland

Director | Meet Me in Las Vegas

Roy Rowland studied law at the University of Southern California, then joined MGM as a script clerk. As if getting that job wasn't enough good luck in the middle of the Depression, he also married the niece of MGM chief Louis B. Mayer.

He sharpened his directing chops at MGM with a series of shorts ...

331 points

89. Byron Haskin

Director | The War of the Worlds

After graduation from the University of California at Berkeley, Byron Haskin worked for a time as a newspaper cartoonist. He began his career in the film industry in 1920 as a commercial-industrial movie photographer, and then as a cameraman for Pathe and International Newsreel. Later he became an ...

329 points

90. Yves Allégret

Director | Les orgueilleux

Yves Allégret was born on October 13, 1905 in Asnières, Seine [now Asnières-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine], France as Yves Edouard Allégret. He was a director and writer, known for The Proud and the Beautiful (1953), The Best Part (1955) and Dédée d'Anvers (1948). He was married to ...

328 points

91. Christian-Jaque

Director | Fanfan la Tulipe

Christian-Jaque was born on August 4, 1904 in Paris, France as Christian Maudet. He was a director and writer, known for Fanfan la Tulipe (1952), If All the Guys in the World... (1956) and Un revenant (1946). He was married to Denise Morlot, Laurence Christol, Martine Carol, Renée Faure, Simone ...

306 points

92. Curtis Bernhardt

Director | Kisses for My President

If Curtis Bernhardt is a relative unknown, it's because he didn't direct his first Hollywood feature until 1940 at the age of 41. Bernhardt worked for years in Germany until his Jewish heritage made living there impossible by 1933-- he was arrested by the Gestapo and made a harrowing underground ...

303 points

93. H. Bruce Humberstone

Director | Wonder Man

A juvenile actor, Bruce Humberstone started his career as a script clerk, later serving as assistant director for the likes of King Vidor, Edmund Goulding and Allan Dwan. One of the 28 founders of the Directors Guild of America, Humberstone worked in a number of capacities on several silent films. ...

303 points

94. John M. Stahl

Director | Leave Her to Heaven

John Stahl was the final executive in charge of Tiffany Pictures (located on the Talisman lot, later owned by Monogram Pictures), once a big fish in the pond of "Poverty Row", which in those days also included Columbia Pictures. With a B-movie history dating back to the silent era and after making ...

301 points

95. Lewis Allen

Director | The 20th Century-Fox Hour

Born in England on Christmas Day, 1905, Lewis Allen first came on the show-biz scene when he was appointed executive in charge of West End and Broadway stage productions for famed impresario Gilbert Miller. Allen also co-directed some of the productions (including the celebrated "Victoria Regina" ...

300 points

96. William A. Seiter

Director | The Cheerful Fraud

Originally a writer and artist, William A. Seiter entered films with Selig. He worked from 1915 as a stunt double and bit player at Keystone and quickly graduated to directing comedy shorts. He moved up to features in the 1920s. He married actress Laura La Plante, who he directed in several films, ...

290 points

97. Henry King

Director | The Song of Bernadette

For more than three decades, Henry King was the most versatile and reliable (not to mention hard-working) contract director on the 20th Century-Fox lot. His tenure lasted from 1930 to 1961, spanning most of Hollywood's "golden" era. King was renowned as a specialist in literary adaptations (A Bell ...

288 points

98. Roy William Neill

Director | Sherlock Holmes Faces Death

Roy William Neill was born on September 4, 1887 in ship off Ireland as Roland de Gostrie. He was a director and producer, known for Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and The Scarlet Claw (1944). He was married to Betty MacLaglen. He died on December 14, 1946...

264 points

99. Cecil B. DeMille

Producer | The Ten Commandments

His parents Henry C. DeMille and Beatrice DeMille were playwrights. His father died when he was 12, and his mother supported the family by opening a school for girls and a theatrical company. Too young to enlist in the Spanish-American War, Cecil followed his brother William C. de Mille to the New ...

262 points

100. Mark Robson

Director | The Harder They Fall

Mark Robson studied political science and economics at the University of California. He then took a law course at Pacific Coast University, and, at one time, also attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Ultimately, his interests led him elsewhere, since he ended up in the movie business as a ...

260 points



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