Who’s Your Favorite “Golden Age” (1930-60) Director?

MovieFanfare Movie Poll of the Week

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  • Jasonrfleming

    Voted for Hitchcock but Ford is a close second followed by Hawks. Among the missing Nicholas Ray, Sam Fuller, Douglas Sirk, Anthony Mann, Michael Powell, Jacques Tourneur, Josef Von Sternberg, William Wellman, Budd Boetticher, Frank Borzage, and Stanley Kubrick to name the best.

  • Rick

    Sadly you failed to list who I believe was the best OTTO PREMINGER, the person who put together your list needs educating

  • Tangomann

    Has Jean Renoir been forgotten?

    • http://twitter.com/Bryankr Bryan Ruffin

      Jean who?

  • Steve in Sacramento

    Yeah, these recent “favorite” polls are way too limited and reductive.  I actually voted for William Wyler, if only because I think he’s underrated.  Yes, more of a craftsman than an “auteur” of the likes of Hitchcock, Sturges, et. al., but the consummate craftsman if you ask me.

  • Marty

    Without a doubt, William Wyler. The Best Years of Our Lives, Wuthering Heights, The Letter, etc. I could go on with so many others.

    • Trippy Trellis

      You mean, like his greatest- “The Heiress”.

  • Wayne

    Yep, theres no doubt after the fave actor/actress polls recently and now this one…that the MU blog-fan base needs a write-in category to vote for…its time and thanks for the space…weve got it for President, right?  Enough said!

  • Bjodrie

    How about Nicholas Ray and Raoul Walsh?

  • Gemini09

    Alfred Hitchcock stands out for me because of his body of work. I also love Capra ,Sturges, Wyler and Ford. 

  • http://twitter.com/Bryankr Bryan Ruffin

    I know I have said this before, but, this is one of the hardest yet! I can choose only 1?! As a John Wayne fan, I chose John Ford, but, I also love a good twisted mystery, therefore Alfred Hitchcock. If you enjoy a good “feel good” movie, Frank Capra. If you like REALLY long epic movies DeMille. Tough choices.

  • Rick

    Hey there Jock Roche,
    Anxious to know who your # 1 Director is ?

    • Ken Roche

      I pained over this question…OK, I voted for William Wyler (good one Steve/Marty)
      But, I regard so many others as equally great: Huston, Ford, Capra, Curtiz, just about all on the vote list have achieved greatness in film as art. So have as many others not even listed
      (thanks Tangomann, etc)
      At the risk of being a pary pooper I would not vote for Hichcock, sure he made some very good movies, but too many duds to be great, and dare I say it, I think Hitch may have often been carried by superb Screenplay-Writers, and Marvelous Directors of Photography (he just about used em all)

      Jean Negulesco (Humoresque etc,etc) Sam Wood (Kings Row, etc,etc) even Edmund Goulding, just some I thought had it all over Hitch. This sure could go on and on….
      but to each their own………..k

  • Crbarclift

    Uh, Orson Welles anyone.  If my eyes aren’t failing me and he’s not on that list, we have a problem.

  • Maynard966

    It would have been good to have been able to cast a vote for Josef von Sternberg who, for sophisticated visuals, is in a class of his own.

  • Taylor1561

    There is something to be said for W.S. Van Dyke – “One-shot Woody” who could handle anything from Tarzan to Thin Man movies, and lots in between

  • Lawrence

    Where is David Lean?

  • Mary

    I would vote David Lean if he was on the list.

  • Jbejami321

    SOOOOO many great ones to pick from!  ALL great in their own right.  Will we ever see likes of them again? 

  • Tim

    Surprised Ernst Lubitsch didn’t score higher as many directors (in days past, I suppose) referred to the “Lubitsch Touch”.

  • Harryg5

    Without a Doubt, It’s Frank Capra!  Truly an American Hero,  for his work! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon S. Jackson

    Too many greats to choose from and yet just as many, as others have noted, missing.  Went with John Huston on the strength of “The Maltese Flacon”, “The Asphalt Jungle” and “The African Queen”, but could just as easily have picked John Ford for his epic John Wayne-cavalry trilogy, Billy Wo;der fpr “Double Indemnity” and “Sunset Boulevard” and of course Alfred Hitchcock for just about anything except “The Trouble With Harry” and “Topaz.”

  • Charlotte Vale

    I voted for Frank Capra only because the system doesn’t let me vote for all of them.

  • Jroman52

    Everyone on this list (and Jason’s “missing” list) is totally worthy and irreplaceable. But seriously: look at a list of Billy Wilder’s accomplishments, and tell me there is a more original, audacious, and versatile director in the history of film. And he wrote most of the screenplays, to boot.

  • Joyceandjohn

    You never heard of Orson Welles?! He directed as many films as Frank Capra.

  • Jaystockwell

    What about Mr. Victor Fleming who directed a couple of lesser-known pictures known as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind”? He should be included. On Mr. Curtiz: Of course “Casablanca” is my favorite but during the filming of “Charge of the Light Brigade”, Mr. Curtiz used trip-wires to bring the horses to their “knees” and many had to be destroyed. Errol Flynn despised him so much that he reported Curtiz to the A.S.P.C.A. Unforgivable.

  • Terao1002

    Me too!  My first reaction was, “Where’s One-Take Woody”? Great little flick…who did that?  W.S. Van Dyke!  He was everywhere, and he’s so underrated it’s criminal.

    I’d definitely make a distinction between “director” and “auteur”.  If we’re going for the latter, I’d be wondering where Stroheim is…

    From the list, I’d go for Capra (who a few years back I would have dismissed as nothing more than a Schmaltzmeister) or Hitchcock.

  • Feather

    No heswitation here, even though I l most of these guys.

    But John Ford is a giant who towers over the field.

    When Orson Welles createrd a masterpiece (Citizen Kane) his first time out, he waqs asked how he prepared for his first directoral job. “By studying the old masters,” he said. When asjked who he considered the old masters, he said, “John Ford, John Ford, John Ford.”

  • Rob in L.A.

    Orson Welles.

  • Gary Vidmar

    Orson Welles made the greatest directorial debut in the history of cinema, but from this list of greats, I voted for Billy Wilder because he entertained me the most.  I’d also say that Hitchcock was definitely the most consistent craftsman listed.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/PODTFFPVEUXYHXVGNS5G5FWKGI DIRK

      yes, Gary, I agree that Hitch’s consistancy was what prompted my vote in his direction.  Very entertaining throughout the years.

  • TreeofWoodenClogs

    I’m really torn about this survey: My top three are Wyler, Houston and Hitchcock although even citing my top three was difficult; so many A-1 directors in those days.  BTW: Michael Curtiz for ‘Casablanca’ puts him in a category all by himself.

  • Chris Mattson


  • Danofan59

    Leo McCarey’s not on the list?

  • Bchambon

    In my opinion John Ford is scoring too high. And the heck are Elia Kazan, George Stevens, and Blake Edwards?

  • Fbusch

    All these guys had nitches where they excelled, but, ford and capra had a very broad range of vision. Example; Curtiz’ Casablanca still holds the candle higher than anyone else. there are many others who while their range may be narrower, still have excelled in more than a few classic films.

  • R.D.Cochran

    What?!  No Vincent Minnelli??

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PODTFFPVEUXYHXVGNS5G5FWKGI DIRK

    There are plenty on the list that really define the art of Directing a Film, but for groundbreaking cinema that honor has to go to Hitchcock.  His innovations are still in use today; he knew how to manipulate an audiences feelings with camera tricks and choice of casting.  Very subtle but increasingly striking as he expanded his craft.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sally-Stark/100000380617204 Sally Stark

    Out of those you have listed, I chose  C.B DeMille,  But you left out JAMES WHALE!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NDEVKTOHM3FN63T75SSGN3NAU4 Jeff

    Man oh man, this was one tough choice, especially when directors like Borzage, Wellman and McCarey are not included.  Voted for Lubitsch, with Ford as my second choice.  How about one on silent film directors?

  • Bruce Lagasse

    Where the heck is Fred Zinnemann?

  • GaryKoca

    All are great, but I would have Hitchcock, Ford, Capra, and Wilder 1-4 just like the results so far. I voted for Hitchcock. 

  • GaryKoca

    William Wyler should get a mention if for no other reason that The Best Years of Our Lives, one of the greatest American films of all and my personal favorite movie. 

  • Dave Ecklein

    All names mentioned so far are great!

    My favorite US directors include:

    (1) Busby Berkeley

    (2) W. (Woody) S. Van Dyke

    (3) William Wellman

    During the golden ages, wonderful films were also made in other countries!  My favorites, outside of the US include:

    (1) Sergei Eisenstein

    (2) Yasujiro Ozu

    (3)  Ismael Rodriguez


    I voted for John Ford because of the BEST movie ever mde about  WW2, They Were Expendable.
    Hell, He might even  have Directed “The D.I. with Jack Webb”.

    • Wayne

      Hey Gunnykoon:  With your noted love for military history as reflected in your excellent posting to George Allen’s piece on DI…you might be interested to know that John Ford was first on the scene with a film crew after Pearl Harbor and did that and many other fine documentaries on the war, ala Frank Capras good “Why we Fight” series.   Ive heard a story that Ford kinda/sorta ‘saw’ the Japanese attack coming and wanted to be onhand to cover it.  He served his country well in WW2.   His sailing and fave film buddy John Wayne was also reputed to have had his feelings hurt when Ford publicly called him into question for not signing up to fight.   Well,  Dukes side of that one, so the story goes is the Army wouldnt make him an officer as the USAF had for Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable, so he didnt want to enlist as a private since  he would be a distraction to the other men in the trenches!  I actually believe he was being honest in giving that as a valid reason;  plus, the fact that we needed him (along with Bob ‘US’ Hope) to entertain us and th soldiers for the duration…they might not have been the “greatest generation” but men like my Dad and you have always been willing to offer the supreme sacrifice in defense of liberty & many thanks!

  • Publius

    This was a hard vote because there are a lot of good directors in the Golden age of Hollywood.  I voted for Capra because he was always consistent in his work and his glorification of democracy and the common man.  However, John Ford should get credit for a great list of good movies and especially for his masterpiece “Young Mr. Lincoln.”  I also think Tod Browning, who worked with Lon Chaney Sr., was very good.  I don’t know if Robert Redford shold be included in the list, but I always admired and loved his “A River Runs Through It.”  Hitchcock was good, but not fabulous in everything, according to my taste.  Comedians usually direct themselves, no matter who is at the helm, but I thought that WIlliam Seiter was good with collaborating with Laurel and Hardy very well in “Sons of The Desert.”  Other good directors are William Wellman, Clarence Brown, King Vidor, Charles Chaplin, Edward Sutherland.

  • jpp452

    So hard to make a choice amongst this group.  I, too, am surprised Michael Powell was not on the list just as I am surprised Cecil B. DeMille was on it. 

    It’s hard to believe Howard Hawks is so far down in votes, although he is admittedly a “man’s director.”  He was a great storyteller, though — the equal of Hitchcock and Ford in that respect.

  • Lrrap

    William Wyler, because of “Best Years…”, “Little Foxes”, etc.  BUT WHERE’S GEORGE STEVENS?!
    My goodness—- a guy who could take simple material…where almost NOTHING happens in terms of dramatic action…..like “Alice Adams” and “I Remember Mama”—and turn them into emotional experiences that draw you back to them again and again—is a rare and gifted director indeed.

    Then there are the guys who directed two of the most powerful, “character-driven” classic films of all time: William Dieterle (“The Life of Emile Zola”) and Victor Fleming (“Captains Courageous’). 

  • Vtk9lvr

    This was a tough choice, each director is the best in their own genre; Hitchcock for Mystery/Suspense, Ford & Hawks for Westerns, Wilder for Comedy, DeMille for Epics.

  • Bob Clay

    Where’s Kubrick.  I’ll rephrase that.  WHERE’S KUBRICK ????

    • Looseleafhead

      Kubrick is usually linked as a post Golden Age director since his strongest work measures him that way.

  • Trippy Trellis

    Love Wyler and Wilder, Cukor and Stevens but my favorites are Hitchcock and Visconti.

  • Gahsf

    This seems more of a “I’ve heard of him most” contest rather than who’s the best.

  • Frank Moore

    Good grief! How could you possibly omit David Lean!?!    Frank Moore

  • Unspiek

    Where are Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini?


    Recently, I put together about 2 dozen films to introduce my niece to the “classics.” A little of everything, but the best of their kind. She’s got at least one from every director on the list, and a few that we mentioned: Welles, Fleming, Powell.  At the end, I was (pleasantly) surprised at the number of films directed and/or written by Wilder. So, I voted for him, even though Ford and Wellman were more heavily decorated.

  • Chris

    This is a VERY tough poll for me, as all named are quite worthy. For me, it probably comes down to a tie between Hitchcock and Huston. I figured Hitch would garner the most votes, so I cast my vote for John Huston. Huston was the very definition of the term “maverick”, continually making extremely brave choices in the projects that he took on. Hitchcock was a master of blending ART and ENTERTAINMENT, and Huston was one of cinema’s best (if not THE BEST) pure storytellers.

    • Jasonrfleming

      Huston would have been my 4th pick from the list.

  • 1Noel45

    I voted for John Ford but Sam Fuller is the most original, Nicholas Ray the most affecting, Jacques Tourneur the most elegant, Josef von Sternberg the most deliriously visual, Preston Sturges the funniest, Douglas Sirk the most stylish, Anthony Mann the greatest classical landscape artist, Frank Borzage the most emotionally affecting, Buster Keaton the supreme visual artist of silent screen comedy, Raoul Walsh the greatest director of action, King Vidor the most American of American directors and Budd Boetticher the most concise of the great Hollywood directors. Of the choices initially offered, I’d only really place Ford (the greatest film poet), Hitchcock (a supreme technician and manipulator of audiences), Lubitsch (the classiest master of innuendo and closing doors), and Hawks and Cukor (superb directors of people) in the august company of the above. Wilder, Capra, Wyler, the erratic Huston, and the fine story teller De Mille have all made fine films but I’d put them in the second line along with Mitchell Leisen (an extremely underrated and meticulous director), Otto Preminger, Robert Aldrich, Leo McCarey and Blake Edwards. Hollywood’s golden age is so rich with creativity it would be better to vote for the top 100 rather than a top ten.

    • Katherineferg

      I agree with your comments but a few of the directors you listed worked mainly AFTER 1960.

    • Alicedominguezthomas

      You are the bomb!  I know nada next to you about directors.  Very impressive.  I am not voting because I can’t pick a favorite.  As you point out, all the directors had their niche.  The Golden Age of films was the best!  Thanks for your insight, it is greatly appreciated, and I will keep my eyes open for Mitchell Leisen films.  I probably have seen a film of his but never paid attention.
      Thanks again!

  • Parkerr71

    wheres victor fleming? james whale?

  • Ed Skillin

    My vote goes to James Whale.
    His name belongs on this list!

  • SoonerAlfie

    All had a few very good movies.  My favorite would be the driven perfectionist, Director/Producer
    David O. Selznick (Intermezzo, Rebecca, David Copperfield, Little Women, Duel in the Sun, The Prisoner of Zenda, A Farewell to Arms, King Kong, and others … not to mention Gone With The Wind.)

  • Leo Doroschenko

    William Dieterle… at least two genuine classics: ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (both films have unforgettable fade-outs).

  • 7120bren

    Capra, third?  Are you kidding?  The king of schmaltz?  Director of some of the most overrated movies ever?  That Frank Capra?  It’s B. Wilder for me, in a heartbeat!

  • JackJones

    This poll is similar to those asking for the best (favorite) actor or actress; there’s no one answer. Or maybe it should be all of the above. Or just give us as many votes as there ae nominees. I like prectically all of them but voted for Curtiz for his versatility. Anyone who can go from Robin Hood to George M Cohan to Rick Blane has to be near the top.

  • Nils Goering

    Of the directors listed in the poll, Alfred Hitchcock knocked it out of the ballpark more often than not.  He should be nominated “Premiere (read that as ‘Greatest’) Director of the 20th Century”!

    As usual, several contributors scream out for directors not chosen for the poll.  This will always occur in these ‘competions’.  Here’s some that I champion that were excluded:

    ORSON WELLES - ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ and ‘Touch of Evil’ are three of his films that should keep him near the top of the list of great directors.

    BUDD BOETTICHER – All those fine westerns with Randolph Scott!

    JACK ARNOLD – The master of the fifties Science Fiction genre – ‘It Came from Outer Space’, ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’, ‘Revenge of the Creature’, ‘Tarantula!’, ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’, ‘Monolith Monsters’  and the comedy fantasy ‘The Mouse That Roared’.

    BUSTER KEATION – So many films So many laughs So much brilliance

    • Jasonrfleming

      Buster Keaton is a genius but all his great films were in the silent era. As for Jack Arnold I enjoy his films but I wouldn’t call them great.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gene.bivins Gene Bivins

        So you’re discounting Keaton only because his films are silent? Watch The General again. It’s the noisiest silent film you’ll ever see. [Thanks, John Currin!]

        • Jasonrfleming

          The reason I discounted Keaton is the poll says favorite golden age director 1930-1960. The General was made in 1926. If they do a poll for favorite director in silent era Keaton should definitely be one of the choices. But I still wouldn’t pick him there too many directors even better than him like Von Sternberg, Borzage, Tod Browning, D.W. Griffith, Erich Von Stroheim plus all the great foreign directors like F.W. Murnau,G.W. Pabst, Fritz Lang, Victor Sjostrom,Georges Melies, Abel Gance just to name a few.

      • Nils Goering

        I stand corrected on Buster Keaton.  The 1930 – 1960 parameter for the ‘Golden Age’ would exclude him.  Although I still think he’s a better director than many listed in this poll.  As for Jack Arnold,  I think all of his films I mentioned were great.  It’s my opinion and I respect your opinion to disagree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TrumpetboyLarry Larry Magen

    I voted for Capra… but two of my favorites are not on the list either!  Gotta love Vincente Minnelli.. and Busby Berkely!

    • 1Noel45

      Vincente Minnelli for sure. Berkeley was a brilliant director of lavish, often lewd, often outstanding kaleidoscopic set pieces, but…..

  • 1Noel45

    Just to clear up the matter of statistics:
     Nicholas Ray – 17 before, 4 after 1960 Jacques Tourneur – 32 before, 2  after Josef von Sternberg – 26 films, all before 1960 Preston Sturges – 13 films, all before 1956 Douglas Sirk – 40 films, all before 1960 Anthony Mann – 35 before, 4 after King Vidor – 56, all before 1960 Raoul Walsh – 101 films before, 2 after 1960 Frank Borzage – 90 before, 1 after (The Big Fisherman 1961) Budd Boetticher – 29 before, 2 after 1960 And I forgot to include Fritz Lang and Orson Welles on my immediate best list. A terrible oversight!!

    • Jasonrfleming

      I forgot Fritz Lang and Orson Wells too.

  • Doghousereilly1

    It may be apocryphal but Orson Welles purportedly said, when asked his favorite director, “John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford.”

  • Joe H

    Tod Browning, William Wellman, Hal Roach and Raoul Walsh

  • http://www.facebook.com/gene.bivins Gene Bivins

    William Wyler in 9th place? Nonsense!

  • Castfam

    please go back to the old format

  • Filmax

    Anthony Mann (all those “B” movies plus film noir and westerns). 

  • Lenore Salinger

    Here are some directors who I feel should get acknowledged:

    ROBERT WISE – ‘The Body Snatcher’, ‘Born to Kill’, ‘Blood on the Moon’, ‘The Set-Up’, ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’, ‘Run Silent Run Deep’  and several others prior to 1960.

    ROBERT ALDRICH – ‘Vera Cruz’, ‘Kiss Me Deadly’

    AKIRA KUROSAWA – ‘Rashomon’, ‘Ikiru’, ‘Seven Samurai’, ‘Throne of Blood’, ‘The Hidden Fortress’

    ROGER CORMAN – ‘Monster from the Ocean Floor’, ‘It Conquered the World’, ‘Rock All Night’, ‘Teenage Doll’, ‘The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent’, ‘Machine Gun Kelly’, ‘Teenage CaveMan’, ‘Bucket of Blood’, ‘The Wasp Woman’, ‘House of Usher’ and ‘Little Shoppe of Horrors’ – all pre-1960 films! If not a classically great director, Corman was fast, prolific, efficient and popular plus his movies made money whereas many “mainstream” directors’ films did not.

  • Nils Goering

    To offset any nitpickers out there, by saying Corman’s movies ‘made money’ I meant that by his work ethic of moving swiftly, keeping on schedule and keeping costs to a minimum his films always turned a big profit.  And he had an uncanny ability to start trends (SF/Horror, Edgar Allan Poe, Gangster, Drugs, Motorcycle outlaws).  So, of course, the directors’ (and their films) listed in this poll made money.  But, often, they would run over budget and not make the huge profits their studios were hoping for. 

  • Don

    I was looking for Elia Kazan, not on the list.  Tough choice for me between Hitch, Capra and Wilder.

  • OZ ROB

    Robert Bresson ..even though only 4 films made in this period they stand alone  unique in style sparse but complex, i think Diary of a Country Priest is one of the most profound movies i have seen.I cannot single out one favorite. I agree all the names on the poll are great directors, and Jason and Noel have covered the rest of my favorites although must admit to not being a fan of Ford..

    • Jasonrfleming

      Bresson is a great choice though he had 6 films during this period. Your probably forgetting Affaires Publiques 1934 Bresson’s first film its only been shown a handful of times since. And Les Anges du peche ( Angels of the Streets ). Henri-Georges Clouzot is another great French filmmaker best known for Les Diaboliques and Wages of Fear. But my favorite is Le Corbeau.

  • Larry

    I went with Hitch, but it was a tough choice. I considered Capra as well. Also, I can’t believe that you left Ed Wood off the list ;)

  • Dazedatthelake

    I would have voted for each one in their genre

    • Ken Roche

      Dazedatthelake (intersesting name!)  Your comment maybe short, but is concise indeed.
      What you say is correct, being asked to vote for one ‘overall’ favorite is too much of a limited challenge. A ‘great’ Director, works in many styles to suit assorted genres and themes.
      I agree, the question maybe a challenge, but too limiting to easily respond to.

      Adding to the on-going list:
      CLARENCE BROWN , is an all time favorite for me, but too many of his films, both early and late, are not always easy to find. This intelligent, sensitive film maker (like Wyler) was able to turn his hand at many film styles ~ The Gorgeous Hussey ’36,  Human Comedy ’43, 
      The Yearling ’46,  Intruder in the Dust ’49, etc, etc…. and usually turned them into gold. 
      Brown was an artist not afraid to take on subjects he knew would not have broad appeal, or were controversial regarding the human condition. Courage makes for greatness. 

      TCM often run his films, but the prints they screen too often leave a great deal to be desired. Can anyone tell us why so many films are transferred with the ALC on?  Automatic Level Control is cheap, and ruinous to many wonderful works.

      Optical sound from the mid 30′s and especially the Warner Bros films of the 40′s offered some of the best sound track quality the industry has ever known. When you hear a professionaly transferred sound track of these films, you understand every spoken word – - not to mention – -
      those thunderous Korngold, Steiner,etc, music scores!

      ALC, as it increases the background noise – - searching for sound thats just not there – - 
      is worthless. Why is this method used whatsoever…?  (especially bad in Australia)

      GEORGE STEVENS,  ELIA KAZAN,  ZOLTAN KORDA,  MAX OPHULS,  MARK ROBSON, MICHAEL POWELL AND EMERICK PRESSBURGER (these two men together made numerous classics throughout this period, with rarely a dud amounst them!) They are all amoung many other definitives that quality for greatness also. ORSON WELLS, is constantly talked about, and was a rare true talent, but appeared to let his ego, disorganization and bad decisions get in the way of his achievments….Started BIG, ended small….So Sad.

      I have enjoyed reading all comments to date, and look forward to more……k  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KRCEUDT4CLVZUM46SJIE3VWMEU Sandy

    Alfred Hitchcock? Really? He’s so cliche and always has been.

    • Ian

      I never “got” Hitchcock. His plots are always loaded with holes stitched together with deus ex machina. Gimmicks.  And I really don’t want to watch a movie to see how “clever” the director is.  Case in point: ROPE Absolutely, gaggable!

  • Beckyhiggins1

    There are alot of good ones there!!!

  • Barbara

    Lots of greatness represented on this list, making the choice quite analytical…..  While not a big vote-getter here, would have liked to see Sam Wood on the list for the recognition.  

  • OZ ROB

    Since its too hard to single out one favorite Director  thought i would try a different approach and name a  movie that I have enjoyed from each director  listed in the poll , Not got much else to do on this cold wet Saturday,,F.Capra; The Strong Man 26,,,G. Cukor; Born Yesterday 50,,,M.Curtiz; Female 33,,,C.DeMille; The Sign of the Cross 32,,,J.Ford; Tobacco Road 41..,H.Hawks; Red River 48,,,A.Hitchcock; Blackmail 29,,,J.Huston; The Red Badge of Courage 51,,,E.Lubitsch; Trouble in Paradise 32,,,P.Sturges; Unfaithfully Yours 48,,,B.Wilder; Double Indemnity 44,,,W.Wyler; Dodsworth 36,,….

    • Ken Roche

      Liked several of your choices OZ ROB,  for me, my Sturges favorite is: ” Sullivans Travels”
      tells it like it is (very Capra in fact)  Capra: “A Wonderful Life” but many others right up there with it!  Ford: has got to be: ” The Grapes of Wrath” must be one of the greatest American films of all time – - in look and honest values – - While not a Hitchcock fan did like: ‘Rebecca” and “The Wrong Man”…. this one was quite un-common for Hitchcock, much more believable than most, and based on fact) Huston: maybe: “Treasure of Sierra Madre” for one. but several others.  Robert Siodmak was also a strong contender. k

    • Jasonrfleming

      Good list but Tobacco Road I’ve always thought that was one of Ford’s worst films. But then I’ve always had trouble with Ford’s use of comic relief in his films even great ones like the Searchers or Sergeant Rutledge a very under rated film.

      • OZ ROB

         Kael described it as Deranged, Maltin says Genuinely Odd, Halliwell reckons its Marvelous,..must be the fact that it is scripted from a novel by Erskine Caldwell,which gives it a very different, unusual flavor. Also by E.C., Mann`s Gods Little Acre….

        • Jasonrfleming

          Not that big a fan of God’s Little Acre either. I remember seeing it about 10 or 12 years ago. Even without Caldwell Ford’s use of “comedy” is problematic. Most of the directors on this list use comedy better than him even Hitchcock who had a dark edge to many of his films. Even if his one straight attempt at comedy Mr & Mrs Smith is a failure even with Carole Lombard in the cast. The ones with less skill are Curtiz and Wyler.

          • Jasonrfleming

            Skill might not have been the best way to describe it but Wyler directed so few comedies. And I can’t honestly think of one Curtiz did. Even stuffy old De Mille did some in 20′s and 30′s.

          • Wayne

            If you want to see a good Ford comedy, check out “The Whole Town’s Talking” 1935, with Edw. G. Robinson and Jean Arthur…very funny with witty & clever dialogue…it showcases EGR in a dual role with a suspenser ending thrown in for good measure!  I also thought Mr. & Mrs. Smith was pretty good considering thats not Hitchs main forte.  Of course, I am probably biased as I dont think he had a stinker until the 60′s with Topaz…

          • Jasonrfleming

            I vaguely remember The Whole Towns Talking. As for Mr & Mrs Smith I found it strained. Hitchcock use of comedy was in odd character traits and witty one liners. Not full-on screwball comedy. One director who hasn’t been mentioned yet is Gregory La Cava the man behind My Man Godfrey. W.C. Fields silents So’s Your Old Man & Running Wild.

  • Valjean1112

    Almost all are great and I love the variety of Wyler.  But I went with Preston Sturges who not only directed but also wrote his own material.  Some of his characters were ditzy millionaires but many were that elusive common man who kept his ethics, romance, and humor about him at all times.

  • Pat27s

    These a re all great directors but most are known for a certain style or genre. I choose Michael Curtiz because he could do any genre–and directed many great classics like “Casablanca” “The Adventures of Robin Hood” “Mildred Pierce” “Angels With Dirty Faces” and “White Christmas”

  • jumbybird

    Can I vote twice for Hitch and Ford? I refuse to choose between them.

  • Cara

    How can you choose among this list? These are the greats of American film making.


    Capra the most easily overrated of all. Wilder’s got it all over him, do does Sturges.

  • Antone

    I find myself in the curious position of voting for the director who is my 2nd choice in my favorite genres; but my top choice when averaged together. For example, Howard Hawks is just behind Sturges in comedy and Ford in westerns. He is also close to the top in my other favorite genres. Because of his versatility, I vote for Hawks. He deserves bonus points for introducing Bogart to Bacall.

    Two of your choices wouldn’t make my top 50. Capra made two good movies: It Happened One Night & Arsenic and Old Lace [though he spoiled the dark ending]. The rest were a cross between Pollyanna and Shirley Temple. DeMille was even worse. His epics led to the Irwin Allen disaster flicks which led to the incomprehensible, unwatchable CGI things.


    Hey Antone, I’m not sure about your reference to what I said about Capra. I said he was overrated, mainly for all his hokum and schmaltz. “Wonderful Life” may have been J. Stewart’s favorite, but to me it was a mess. It’s laughable to put Capra and Wilder in the same sentence.

    • Antone

      I share your dislike of Capra films for the reason you cite. The “your” in my remarks refers to Ed’s ballot listing. Capra & DeMille are enormously popular, so they should be included; but i don’t like either. Worse than Capra’s rose-colored glasses were DeMille’s endless epics. ZZZZZZZ….


        Thanks for clearing up.

        Subject: Re: New comment posted on Who’ s Your Favorite “ Golden Age” (1930-60) Director?