Underappreciated Movie Directors

by dan_martinez2 | created - 03 Dec 2017 | updated - 04 Dec 2017 | Public

The movies listed beside them are what I believe to be some of their stronger works that I liked, but don't get a lot of attention.

1. Arthur Penn

Director | Bonnie and Clyde

Arthur Penn was born on September 27, 1922 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He was a director and producer, known for Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Little Big Man (1970) and The Miracle Worker (1962). He was married to Peggy Maurer. He died on September 28, 2010 in Manhattan, New York City, New York,...

The Chase and Night Moves

2. 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 ...

3:10 to Yuma and Spencer's Mountain

3. 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 ...

Wild River and Splendor in the Grass

4. Jeremy Sims

Director | Last Cab to Darwin

Jeremy Sims was born on January 10, 1966 in Perth, Western Australia, Australia as Jeremy William Hartley. He is an actor and director, known for Last Cab to Darwin (2015), Beneath Hill 60 (2010) and Chances (1991).

Beneath Hill 60 and Last Cab to Darwin

5. John Cassavetes

Actor | Love Streams

John Cassavetes was a Greek-American actor, film director, and screenwriter. He is considered a pioneer of American independent film, as he often financed his own films.

Cassavetes was born in New York City in 1929, to Nicholas John Cassavetes and his wife Katherine Demetre (1906-1983). Nicholas was...

Shadows and A Woman Under the Influence

6. John Frankenheimer

Director | The Manchurian Candidate

Born in New York and raised in Queens, John Frankenheimer wanted to become a professional tennis player. He loved movies and his favorite actor was Robert Mitchum. He decided he wanted to be an actor but then he applied for and was accepted in the Motion Picture Squadron of the Air Force where he ...

Seven Days in May and Grand Prix

7. John Milius

Writer | Conan the Barbarian

John Milius is a screenwriter and director who came to prominence in the 1970s, when he was associated with Francis Ford Coppola and the pre-Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) George Lucas. Born on April 11, 1944 in St. Louis, Missouri, Milius was one of the first movie industry ...

The Wind and the Lion and Big Wednesday

8. John Sayles

Writer | Lone Star

A bright child, John Sayles began reading novels before age 9. A Williams grad in 1972, he shunned a corporate career to work various blue-collar jobs, moving to east Boston to take a factory job. He wrote stories and submitted them to various magazines, and the Atlantic Monthly gave him the idea ...

Matewan and Lone Star

9. Ken Loach

Director | I, Daniel Blake

Unlike virtually all his contemporaries, Ken Loach has never succumbed to the siren call of Hollywood, and it's virtually impossible to imagine his particular brand of British socialist realism translating well to that context. After studying law at St. Peter's College, Oxford, he branched out into...

Hidden Agenda and Land and Freedom

10. Louis Malle

Director | Au revoir les enfants

Louis Malle, the descendant of a French nobleman who made a fortune in beet sugar during the Napoleonic Wars, created films that explored life and its meaning. Malle's family discouraged his early interest in film but, in 1950, allowed him to enter the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies ...

My Dinner with Andre and Vanya on 42nd Street

11. Mark Robson

Director | Peyton Place

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 ...

The Harder They Fall and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness

12. Martin Ritt

Director | Hud

Martin Ritt, one of the best and most sensitive American filmmakers of all time, was a director, actor and playwright who worked in both film and theater. He was born in New York City. His films reflect, like almost none other, a profound and intimate humane vision of his characters.

He originally ...

Conrack and The Front

13. 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 in his 20's and became one of the most imaginative stage producers and directors. He was ...

Advise & Consent and In Harm's Way

14. Peter Weir

Director | Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Peter Weir was born on August 21, 1944 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia as Peter Lindsay Weir. He is a director and writer, known for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), The Way Back (2010) and The Truman Show (1998). He has been married to Wendy Stites since 1966. They ...

The Year of Living Dangerously and Fearless

15. Ramin Bahrani

Producer | 99 Homes

Ramin Bahrani was born on March 20, 1975 in North Carolina, USA. He is a producer and director, known for 99 Homes (2014), Chop Shop (2007) and Fahrenheit 451 (2018).

Man Push Cart and Chop Shop

16. Richard Brooks

Writer | Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Richard Brooks was an Academy Award-winning film writer who also earned six Oscar nominations and achieved success as a film director and producer.

He was born Ruben Sax on May 18, 1912, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants. He graduated from West Philadelphia HS...

Blackboard Jungle and The Catered Affair

17. Robert Aldrich

Director | What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Robert Aldrich entered the film industry in 1941 when he got a job as a production clerk at RKO Pictures. He soon worked his way up to script clerk, then became an assistant director, a production manager and an associate producer. He began writing and directing for TV series in the early 1950s, ...

The Flight of the Phoenix and Emperor of the North

18. Ronald Neame

Director | Golden Salamander

A British filmmaker who, over the years, worked as assistant director, cinematographer, producer, writer and ultimately director, Ronald Neame was born on April 23, 1911. His father, Elwin Neame, was a film director and his mother, Ivy Close, was a film star. During the 1920s, he started working at...

Tunes of Glory and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

19. 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 ...

The Bad and the Beautiful and Home from the Hill

20. Walter Hill

Writer | 48 Hrs.

Hill was born in Long Beach, California and educated at Mexico City College and Michigan State University. He worked in oil drilling and construction in the 60s before becoming a 2nd assistant director in 1967. He has written and co-written screenplays, including several uncredited works. He has ...

The Driver and The Long Riders

21. William Friedkin

Director | The French Connection

Friedkin's mother was an operating room nurse. His father was a merchant seaman, semi-pro softball player and ultimately sold clothes in a men's discount chain. Ultimately, his father never earned more than $50/week in his whole life and died indigent. Eventually young Will became infatuated with ...

Sorcerer and To Live and Die in L.A.



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