Of the above listed, I am choosing Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell, whose films pay such extraordinary attention to detail that they really feel complete. The sets are elaborate, the cinematography lush and the story meticulus. The performances just slide into place making these event films of the greatest magnitude.
Of those not listed, I must pay homage to Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity) and George Cukor (The Philadelphia Story), as well as actor-turned directors Charlie Chaplin (The Great Dictator), Laurence Olivier (Henry V, Hamlet) and Orson Welles, director of the greatest film of all time: Citizen Kane.
Many filmmakers got their start in the 1940s: Preston Sturges (The Great McGinty), Orson Welles (Citizen Kane), Jules Dassin (The Tell-Tale Heart), John Huston (The Maltese Falcon), Billy Wilder (The Major and the Minor), Noel Coward and David Lean (In Which We Serve), Vincente Minnelli (Cabin in the Sky), Powell and Pressburger (One of Our Aircraft Are Missing), Akira Kurosawa (Sanshiro Sugata), Robert Wise (The Curse of the Cat People), Laurence Olivier (Henry V), Elia Kazan (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), Sam Fuller (I Shot Jesse James), Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly (On the Town)
My stand-alone favorites are as follows: The Philadelphia Story, Grapes of Wrath, Pinocchio, The Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Bambi, Cat People, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Double Indemnity, Johnny Belinda, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Best Years of Our Lives, Notorious, Black Narcissus, Miracle on 34th Street, The Red Shoes, The Fallen Idol, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Third Man)
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