18 March 2008

John Ford is #1

MovieMaker.com has posted a list of the 25 Most Influential Directors of All Time. As with any list of this sort, it’s designed to spark argument and get people defensive about the choices and the ordering. And, yeah, I’m going to argue—but not get defensive. (It’s only a list, anyway.)

John Ford is high on the list, at #5.

John Ford should be at #1.

Maybe directors today might say they were influenced by Hitchcock, but really, they’re imitating John Ford. Watch any John Ford film, and you’ll think, “Wow, this is what everybody tries to do.” When a director tries to avoid emulating another director, he just ends up emulating John Ford (only not as well).

Howard Hawks should be higher than #18, by the way.

Say what else you want about the list, but its more perceptive than the cultural myopia that strikes the moment you look into the comments from users:
Where the hell is Quentin Tarantino. His movies are icons. Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Resivour [sic] Dogs. He is more then worthy for this list.
If he wanted to make an argument for Anthony Mann, I would understand. But it seems today that too many viewers’ cultural memories don’t extend past the earlier ‘90s. I would put Tarantino on a list of “most influenced” directors, but not the other way around. The other commentators immediately lay into the “Where’s Tarantino?” silliness, and someone else brought up Sam Peckinpah… an excellent choice. His impact on action aesthetics is unquestionable.