John Ford. This was pretty much impossible for me to do. I had Hitchock and Kubrick as my clear 1-2. I had Ford virtually tied with four others. I went through a ton of metrics and tiebreakers and each candidate for the third slot had its strengths and weaknesses.  Ford’s strengths are plenty. He has 26 archiveable films by my count, which is near the top (only trailing woody allen and Hitchcock). He also has the #1 film of all-time in my opinion.

Best film: the searchers. This one is very easy. He has others that are also masterpieces but nothing close (which is one of his weaknesses compared to the other 4 auteurs I was thinking of for the #3 spot). I’m sort of second guessing myself as we speak but I would be doing the same with the others, too.

Most overrated: TSPDT is again really accurate here. I’m tempted to say 1941’s how green was my valley because of the Thompson/bordwell article touting it above kane but it’s rated #338 by TSPDT and I have it as a MS film- so it’s just as it should be basically. I’ll pick the wings of eagles (at #831). I have it as a worth a look and saw it just a few summers ago TSPDT has it at #831.

most underrated:  fort apache. TSPDT has it as his 14th best film and I think it’s like 7th. Great performances from both Fonda and Wayne. It takes a little to get going but has a devastating last half hour and is an easy MS film for me from a great master.

gem I want to spotlight: the quiet man. I assume most film buffs have seen his best four films- all westerns. But I watch this one almost every year around st. patrick’s day. I have it as Ford’s 5th or 6th best film. It’s a gorgeous bluray (wonderful use of color) and it’s a funny and accessible film that I think has aged well (and homages galore inspired from this film including in e.t.). Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

stylistic innovations/traits: Making 4 of the best 8 westerns or so? Inventing john wayne? You could pick either or focus on some of his shot compositions including the framing, blocking and camera movement in the opening and closing bookends of the searchers. I think other films are close to the searchers but when I think of that ending I can’t put anything else ahead of it on my all-time list.

Additional notes: His work with and usage of Fonda and Wayne would make a great paper/book/article paired with Hithcock’s usage of Stewart and Cary Grant. As good as Stewart is in the man who shot liberty valance surely that role would’ve gone to Fonda if Ford and him hadn’t got into a big fight in 1955 making mister roberts which resulted in Ford punching Fonda in the face.

top 10

  1. The Searchers
  2. Stagecoach
  3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
  4. My Darling Clementine
  5. The Grapes of Wrath
  6. The Quiet Man
  7. Fort Apache
  8. How Green Was My Valley
  9. Young Mr. Lincoln
  10. The Informer/She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Top 100 directors running list

100) Fuller– 3 must-see, 1 HR, 12 archiveable films

99) Cukor– 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 18 archiveable

98) Demy- 1 masterpiece, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 5 archiveable

97) Jackson– 1 masterpiece, 1 HR, 3 archiveable

96) Miller– 1 masterpiece, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 5 archiveable

95) Kazan- 1 masterpiece, 1 must-see, 3 HR, 12 archiveable

94) Sofia Coppola- 1 masterpiece, 3 HR, 5 archiveable

93) Zemeckis- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 7 archiveable

92) Preminger– 4 must-see, 15 archiveable

91) Miyazaki– 2 must-see, 4 HR, 10 archiveable

90) Lubitsch- 4 must-see, 2 HR, 11 archiveable

89) Tati– 3 must-see, 1 HR, 5 archiveable

88) von Stroheim- 1 masterpiece, 1 MS, 2 HR, 6 archiveable

87) Dardenne- 3 must-see, 3HR, 7 archiveable

86) Nicholas Ray- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 2 HR, 11 archiveable

85) Iñárritu- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 4 archiveable

84) De Palma- 3 must-see, 3 HR, 11 archiveable

83) Minnelli- 2 must-see, 6 HR, 10 archiveable

82) Curitz- 1 masterpiece, 6 HR, 17 archiveable

81) Aronofsky- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 1.5 HR, 5 archiveable

80) Preston Sturges- 4 must-see, 1 HR, 8 archiveable

79) Walsh- 1 masterpiece, 1 must-see, 5 HR, 9 archiveable

78) Gilliam- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 6 archiveable

77) Tarr- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 4 archiveable

76) Nichols- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 12 archiveable

75) Melville- 3 must-see, 4 HR, 9 archiveable

74) Sirk- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

73) Stone- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 2.5 HR, 9 archiveable

72) Almodóvar- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see 4 HR, 12 archiveable

71) Roeg- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 2 HR 5 archiveable

70) Mizoguchi- 5 must-see, 3 HR, 8 archiveable

69) Wyler- 4 must-see, 8 HR, 18 archiveable

68) Jarmusch– 2 masterpieces, 2 MS, 1 HR 9 archiveable

67) Michael Mann– 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 2.5 HR 8 archiveable

66) Visconti- 2 masterpieces, 3 HR 10 archiveable

65) Haneke- 3 masterpieces, 3 HR, 9 archiveable

64) Linklater– 3 masterpieces, 5 HR, 12 archiveable

63) Satyajit Ray– 1 masterpiece, 3 must-see, 1 HR, 8 archiveable

62) Cuaron- 3 masterpieces, 6 archiveable

61) Cassavetes– 2 masterpieces, 4 HR, 9 archiveable

60) Cameron– 5 must-see, 7 archiveable

59) Huston- 2 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 5 HR, 17 archiveable

58) Bertolucci- 1 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

57) Eastwood– 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 15 archiveable

56) Fincher- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 9 archiveable

55) Ozu- 1 masterpiece, 5 HR, 9 archiveable

54) Capra- 3 masterpieces, 4 HR, 11 archiveable

53) Keaton– 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 4 HR, 9 archiveable

52) Peckinpah– 2 masterpieces, 2 HR, 8 archiveable

51) Chaplin– 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 10 archiveable

50) Spike Lee– 3 masterpieces, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

49) Kiewslowski– 3 masterpieces, 3 HR, 10 archiveable

48) Dreyer– 1 masterpiece, 3 must-see, 5 archiveable

47) Von Sternberg- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 3 HR, 10 archiveable

46) Fassbinder- 5 must-see, 4 HR 11 archiveable

45) Nolan- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR 8 archivable

44) WKW- 2 masterpieces, 1-2 must-see, 1 HR 8 archiveable

43) Herzog– 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 2 HR, 9 archiveable

42) Ridley Scott– 2 masterpieces, 3 HR, 11 archiveable

41) Wes Anderson- 4 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 8 archiveable

40) Lumet- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 4 HR, 17 archiveable

39) Polanski- 3 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 3 HR, 12 archiveable

38) Griffith- 2 masterpieces, 3 HR, 6 archiveable

37) Von Trier- 3 masterpieces, 1 HR, 8 archiveable

36) Bresson- 2 masterpieces, 6 HR, 10 archiveable

35) Wilder -4 masterpieces, 4-5 HR, 20 archiveable

34) Powell- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 2 HR, 10 archiveable

33) Rossellini- 2 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 3 HR, 10 archiveable

32) Spielberg- 4 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 2 HR, 18 archiveable

31) Cronenberg- 3 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 2 HR, 14 archiveable

30) De Sica- 2 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

29) Altman- 3 masterpieces, 4 must-see, 2 HR, 16 archiveable

28) Lean 4 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 2 HR, 13 archiveable

27) Antonioni– 1 masterpieces, 5 must-see, 9 archiveable

26) PT Anderson- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 7 archiveable

25) Coen- 4 masterpieces, 5 must-see, 1 HR, 16 archiveable

24) Eisenstein- 1 masterpiece, 4 must-see, 5 archiveable

23) Allen– 4 masterpieces, 5-6 must-see, 4-5 HR, 29 archiveable

22) Tarantino– 4 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 7 archiveable

21) Murnau– 2 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 7 archiveable.

20) Leone– 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 6 archiveable

19) Bunuel– 3 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 2 HR, 13 archiveable

18) Ophüls- 5 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 8 archivaeble

17) Malick– 4 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 6 archivaeble

16) Lynch– 2 masterpieces, 4 must-see, 9 archiveable

15) Renoir- 2 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 3 HR’s, 14 archiveable

14) Hawks- 5 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 3.5 HR’s, 19 archiveable

13) Godard- 3 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 3 HR’s, 12 archiveable

12) Lang- 2 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 4 HR’s, 22 archiveable

11) Truffaut- 3 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 2 HR’s, 19 archiveable

10) Tarkovsky– 2 masterpieces, 4 must-see, 7 archiveable

9) Welles- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR’s, 10 archiveable

8) Kurosawa- 4 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 3 HR’S, 16 archiveable

7) Coppola- 5 Masterpieces, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

6) Fellini– 5 Masterpieces, 2 must-see, 3 HR’s, 14 archiveable

5) Scorsese 4 masterpieces, 5 must-see, 2-3 HR’s, 21 archiveable total

4) Bergman– 6 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 4 HR’s, 20 archiveable total

3) Ford- 6 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 5 HR’s, 26 archiveable total