Authored by Mike Bacon in Movies and Television
Published on 11-14-2009
Most people have a vision of a film director sitting on a canvas chair on a movie set, yelling “Action” and “Cut” through a megaphone. Certainly directors do use words like that, but they do much more. A film director has to take a screenplay and turn it into a finished film. He or she will frame each shot, and determine where he or she wants the camera to point, and what angle would best tell the story.The director also decides how the film should be edited, down to what take to keep, and which ones should end up on the cutting room floor. And those are only a few of the duties of a film director. Everyone on a movie set tends to think they could direct the film better than the person at the helm of the picture. Perhaps Mel Gibson said it best after winning the Oscar for directing “Braveheart” (1995) “Now that I’ve got golden boy here, like every director, what I really want to do is act!”
Here is a list of some of the best motion picture directors of all time.
Hitchcock was known for his suspense thrillers such as “Strangers on a Train” (1951) which starred Farley Granger and Robert Walker as two strangers who plot to commit the perfect murder. Each will kill the person the other man wants dead. Three years later, Hitchcock directed Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in “Rear Window” (1954) with Stewart as a reporter laid up in a wheelchair, who thinks he sees a neighbor commit a murder. In 1960 Hitchcock directed one of the most eerie films ever made, “Psycho” (1960) starring Anthony Perkins as Motel Manager Norman Bates, and Janet Leigh as his victim. The shower murder scene had movie patrons squirming in their seats. Then in 1963, “The Birds” in which our feathered friends went on the attack in a small California coastal town. Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, and Jessica Tandy starred. Hitchcock made a habit of making cameo appearances, usually at the beginning of his films. The fun was watching to see if you could spot him. Alfred Hitchcock died in 1980, at the age of 81.
Kubrick’s body of work has included Science Fiction classics, a futuristic tale of violence, and even a film adaptation of a Stephen King novel. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was adapted from a short story by famed sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke. Reportedly Kubrick told Clarke he wanted to make “the proverbially good science fiction story”. 2001 changed the way we saw sci-fi movies. The spacecraft in the film were done photo-realistically, and the effects seemed real. 2001 has gone down in history as one of the best sci-fi films of all time. Kubrick tackled a film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel, “A Clockwork Orange” (1971) Malcolm McDowell was the ultimate anti-hero in this violent film. Kubrick also directed “Spartacus” (1960) with Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, and Peter Ustinov in story of a slave revolt set in Ancient Rome. In 1980 Kubrick adapted Stephen King’s “The Shining” into a frightening film with Jack Nicholson as a hotel caretaker driven insane by the evil reverberations of the hotel is taking care of. Kubrick died in 1999, at the age of 71.
Spielberg knew at a young age that he wanted to direct films. When he was a young boy he used a 16mm film camera to make his own movies starring his friends and family. He first hit the scene with a television movie called “Duel” (1971) which starred Dennis Weaver as a man driving cross country who is terrorized by the driver of a a big rig, whom he had cut off . The kicker is we never see the driver of the truck. His first big film was the summer thriller, “Jaws” (1975) With Roy Schieder, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfus as three men who are battling a huge Great White Shark that has been killing people at a small New England beach resort town. A string of hits like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), and “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” (1982) made Spielberg a household name. Over the years he has done comedies like “1941”(1979) as well as serious films like “Schindler’s List”(1993) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) Spielberg continues as one of the most prolific directors in the industry.