The 50 Greatest Foundational Directors

The 50 most foundational, influential, and important directors from birth of cinema up until the fall of the studio system.

  1.  Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980): Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Rope, The Birds, Rebecca, Strangers on a Train, Dial M For Murder, The 39 Steps.
  2.  John Ford (1894-1973): The Searchers, Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley, My Darling Clementine, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Informer.
  3. Akira Kurosowa (1910-1998):  Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo, Ikiru, Ran, High and Low, Throne of Blood, Red Beard, The Hidden Fortress, Kagemusha, Sajuro, Stray Dog, The Bad Sleep Well.
  4. Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007): The Seventh Seal, Persona, Wild Strawberries, Fran and Alexander, Hour of the Wolf, Cries and Whispers, Scenes From a Marriage, Autumn Sonata.
  5. Orson Welles (1915-1985):  Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Trial, The Stranger.
  6. Frederico Fellini (1920-1993): 8 1/2, The Dolce Vita, La Strada, Amarcord, Nights of Cibiria, Jules of the Spirits.
  7.  Billy Wilder (1906-2002): Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Witness For the Prosecution, Stalag 17, The Seven Year Itch, The Lost Weekend.
  8. Charlie Chaplin (1889-1997): City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, The Kid, The Gold Rush.
  9. D.W. Griffith (1875-1948): The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, Broken Blossoms.
  10. François Truffaut (1932-1984): The 400 Blows, Day For Night, Jules and Jim, Stolen Kisses.
  11. Yasujirō Ozu (1903-1963): Tokyo Story, Late Spring, Floating Weeds, An Autumn Afternoon.
  12. David Lean (1908-1991): Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Dr. Zhivago, Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, A Passage to India.
  13. Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948): Battleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky, Strike, October, Ivan the Terrible.
  14. Frank Capra (1897-1991): Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Lost Horizon, You Can’t Take It With You.
  15. John-Luc Godard (born 1930): Breathless, Contempt, Vivre Sa Vie, Pierrot le Fou, Histoire(s) du cinéma, My Life to Live, Bande à part.
  16. John Huston (1906-1987)The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, The Asphalt Jungle, Key Largo, The Man Who Would Be King.
  17. William Wyler (1902-1981): The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben-Hur Roman Holiday, Wuthering Heights, The Big Country, Funny Girl, Mrs. Miniver, The Heiress, The Little Foxes, Dodsworth.
  18.  Cecil B DeMille (1881-1959): The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Cheat, Samson and Delilah, The Squaw Man, The Sign of the Cross, Cleopatra.
  19. August (1862-1954) and Louis Lumière (1864-1948): La Sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon, Le Jardinier, Le Débarquement du congrès de photographie à Lyon
  20.  Jean Renoir (1894-1979): The Rules of the Game, La Grande Illusion, Partie de campagne.
  21.  Elia Kazan (1909-2003): On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden, Splendor in the Grass, Gentleman’s Agreement, A Face in the Crowd, America America.
  22. Luis Buñel (1900-1983): Un Chien Andalou, Viridiana, Los Olvidados, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Young and the Damned, The Exterminating Angel, Belle de Jour.
  23.  Fritz Lang (1890-1976): M, Metropolis, Fury, The Big Heat, Die Nibelungen, Scarlet Street.
  24. Satyajit Ray (1921-1992): Pather Panchali, The World of Apu, Aparajito, Nayak: The Hero.
  25. Vittorio De Sica (1901-1974): The Bicycle Thief, Shoeshine, Umberto D, Yesterday Today and Tomorrow, Miracle in Milan.
  26. Michael Curtiz (1886-1962): Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Angels With Dirty Faces, White Christmas.
  27. George Stevens (1904-1975): Giant, Shane, A Place in the Sun, The Diary of Anne Frank, Woman of the Year, Swing Time.
  28.  Victor Fleming (1889-1949): The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Captains Courageous
  29.  F.W. Murnau (1888-1931): Nosferatu, Sunrise, The Last Laugh, Faust.
  30. Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956): Ugetsu, Sansho the Baliff, The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums, The Life of Oharu.
  31. Howard Hawks (1896-1977): Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, Scarface, Rio Bravo, Sergeant York, Red River, His Girl Friday, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Only Angels Have Wings.
  32. Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007): L’Avventura, Blow-Up, L’Eclisse, The Passenger, La Notte.
  33. Stanley Kramer (1913-2001): The Defiant Ones, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Judgement at Nuremberg, Inherit the Wind, Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, On the Beach.
  34. Robert Bresson (1901-1999): Au Hassard Balthazar, A Man Escaped, Pickpocket, Mouchette, Diary of a Country Priest, L’Argent.
  35.  Carl Theodore Dreyer (1889-1968): The Passion of Joan of Arc, Ordet, Day of Wrath, Gertrud, Vampyr.
  36. Georges Méliès (1861-1938): A Trip to the Moon, The Impossible Voyage, The One-Man Band.
  37. Edwin S. Porter (1870-1941): The Great Train Robbery, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rescued From an Eagle’s Nest.
  38. Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947): To Be or Not to Be, Ninotchka, Trouble in Paradise, Design for Living, The Shop Around the Corner, Heaven Can Wait.
  39. Preston Sturges (1898-1959): Sullivan’s Travels, The Great McGinty, Hail the Conquering Hero, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, The Lady Eve.
  40.  Buster Keaton (1895-1966): The General, Sherlock Jr, The Navigator.
  41. Roberto Rossellini (1906-1977): Journey to Italy, Rome Open City, Paisan, Germany Year Zero.
  42. Carol Reed (1906-1976): The Third Man, The Fallen Idol, Oliver!, Odd Man Out.
  43. John Sturges (1910-1992): The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, Gunfight at the OK Corral, Bad Day at Black Rock, Ice Station Zebra.
  44. Robert Wise (1914-2005): The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Andromeda Strain, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Trek, Run Silent Run Deep.
  45. Fred Zinnemann (1907-1997): High Noon, From Here to Eternity, Julia, The Day of the Jackal, A Man For A Seasons, The Search, The Nun’s Story.
  46.  King Vidor (1894-1982): The Crowd, The Big Parade, Stella Dallas, Duel in the Sun, War and Peace.
  47.  Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986): An American in Paris, The Band Wagon, Meet Me in St Louis, Gigi, Cabin in the Sky.
  48. Joseph Mankewietz (1909-1993): All About Eve, The Philadelphia Story, A Letter to Three Wives, The Barefoot Contessa, Cleopatra, Sleuth, 5 Fingers.
  49.  George Cukor (1899-1983): My Fair Lady, Adam’s Rib, A Star is Born, David Copperfield, Gaslight, Born Yesterday.
  50. Henri-Georges Clouzot (1931-1968): Les Diaboliques, The Wages of Fear, La Vérité, The Mystery of Picasso.


Honorable Mentions: Erich von Stroheim, Otto Preminger, Robert Rossen, William Wellman, Mervyn LeRoy, Alice Guy, Oscar Micheaux, Jean-Pierre Melville, Anthony Mann, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Jules Dassin, Raoul Walsh, Blake Edwards, Stanley Donnen, James Whale, Luchino Visconti, Robert Aldrich, Samuel Fuller, Samuel Khachikian, Nicholas Ray, Jean Vigo, Joseph von Sternberg, Jacques Tati, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Leo McCarey

Not quite of the era: Sergio Leone, Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky