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Hollywood's Greatest Directors

As film studies is rapidly replacing literature as the primary vehicle for studying every aspect of the human condition, Hollywood's Greatest Directors is intended to be a historical compendium of America's unparalleled role in the creation of cinema. American filmmakers have been the dominant force in shaping the film industry and its artistry since its inception at the turn of the 20th Century. They combined the power of storytelling, theater, and visual art to mold the most intense and striking art form of the modern era.
  • Title ID 83-HGD
  • English, English Literature, American History, Fine Arts, Film Studies
  • 5 Programs
  • 12 Supplemental Files
  • 10th Grade through Post Secondary
  • Published by Ambrose Video Publishing Inc./Centre Communications
Included Programs
Supplemental Files
Related Titles

Included Programs

The Silent EraRunning time is 28 minutes

The art of making motion pictures matured in the Silent Era from 1895 - 1927. Program one examines the Silent Era's most outstanding directors - D.W. Griffith, Mack Sennet, Lois Weber, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin - who created Hollywood and laid the foundation for the great American cinematic tradition.

Chapter List
Chapter 1: The Invention of Film and Hollywood
The technical side of American cinema began with George Eastman and Thomas Edison, and the art of filmmaking can trace its origins to theater and literature, while the creation of Hollywood started with D.W. Griffith who went to California to break the Edison Monopoly on filmmaking back east.
Chapter 2: 1910 - D.W. Griffith Establishes Hollywood
D.W. Griffith, who first learned his craft of filmmaking from Edwin S. Porter, the director of the one reelers The Life of the American Fireman and The Great Train Robbery, then later worked for the Biograph Company, went to Hollywood, where with stars such as Mary Pickford, Blanche Sweet, Mae Marsh, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, and Lionel Barrymore, made such films as The Birth of a Nation and Abraham Lincoln.
Chapter 3: 1912 - Mack Sennett Founds Keystone Studios
Mack Sennet, who started at the Biograph Company, started Hollywood's Keystone Studios and created the famous Keystone Kops.
Chapter 4: 1913 - Lois Weber, Pioneering Female Director
Lois Weber started working for the Gaumont Film Company and directed the silent film masterpieces Hypocrites and The Blot.
Chapter 5: 1924 - Buster Keaton, an American Original
Buster Keaton, known as the Great Stone Face starred and directed in many films including, Sherlock Jr. and The General.
Chapter 6: 1925 - Charlie Chaplin, the First Auteur
Charlie Chaplin, who got his start with Mack Sennet at Keystone Studios, created the lovable character The Tramp and starred in and directed The Gold Rush, as well as co-founding United Artists with D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.

The Coming of SoundRunning time is 28 minutes

When Warner Brothers Studios released The Jazz Singer, the first 'talkie', in 1927, it spelled the end of the Silent Era. Program two shows how sound revamped Hollywood, creating the 'studio system' and introducing spectacular cinematic techniques by acclaimed directors Howard Hawks, Oscar Micheaux, George Cukor, Dorothy Arzner and Orson Welles

Chapter List
Chapter 1: The Growth of the Studio System
Hollywood, with the coming of sound heralded by the talkie, The Jazz Singer, created the studio system, a vertically integrated oligopoly, and entered a Golden Age creating many masterpieces such as Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, as well as founding many film genres, including gangster films, musicals, newspaper-reporting films, dramas, historical biopics, social-realism films, romantic comedies, screwball comedies, westerns, horror films, and launching the position of the director as t
Chapter 2: 1932 - Howard Hawks Directs Scarface
Howard Hawks directed Scarface and the screwball comedy Bringing up Baby, which introduced the concept of overlapping dialogue.
Chapter 3: 1939 - Oscar Micheaux, First Black Feature Film Director
Oscar Micheaux, who was the first Black director, created films for the Race film circuit, directed Body and Soul, starring Paul Robeson, Within Our Gates and Lying Lips, starring Robert Earl Jones.
Chapter 4: 1940 - George Cukor Directs The Philadelphia Story
George Cukor directed Philadelphia Story and My Fair Lady,
Chapter 5: 1940 - Dorothy Arzner, Hollywood's Greatest Female Director
Dorothy Arzner directed Manhattan Cocktail, Christopher Strong, Craig's Wife, The Bride Wore Red and, Dance, Girl, Dance, and was noted for introducing strong actresses to the screen, including Katherine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and Lucille Ball.
Chapter 6: 1941 - Orson Welles, Citizen Kane
Orson Welles directed the Citizen Kane, which unraveled the life of Charles Foster Kane trying to understand his final word "Rosebud.'

The Golden Age of HollywoodRunning time is 27 minutes

It is called the Golden Age of Hollywood because great directors, great actors, and great technical talent combined to make great movies. Program three discusses the Golden Age of American Cinema and how internationally acclaimed directors such as John Huston, John Ford, Vincente Minnelli and Frank Capra gave the world unparalleled films for over twenty years.

Chapter List
Chapter 1: America Dominates World Cinema
The Golden Age of Hollywood firmly entrenched the studio system and gave the world superstars and world famous directors who would become known as auteurs.
Chapter 2: 1941 - John Huston Brings Film Noir to Hollywood
John Huston introduced Film Noir to Hollywood with The Maltese Falcon, and also directed many other films, including Key Largo, The Asphalt Jungle, The African Queen, The Misfits, The Dead and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Chapter 3: 1944 - Vincente Minnelli Directs Meet Me in St. Louis
Working for MGM Vincente Minnelli directed the masterpiece Meet Me in St. Louis and won an Oscar for Gigi.
Chapter 4: 1946 - Frank Capra, It's a Wonderful Life
Getting his start at Columbia Pictures, working for Harry Cohn, Frank Capra directed It's A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart, the screwball comedy It Happened One Night, and the war film Why We Fight.
Chapter 5: 1956 - John Ford, Master of the Western
Known for directing westerns such as The Searchers, starring John Wayne, John Ford also directed the Oscar winning films The Informer, The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley and The Quiet Man.

The New HollywoodRunning time is 29 minutes

In the 1950s with the arrival of television, the Studio System began a decade long decline that brought Hollywood to its knees. In program four, we'll see how a few great directors, including Mike Nichols, Sam Peckinpah, Terence Malick, Mel Brooks, Martin Scorsese, and Sydney Lumet, revitalized Hollywood and American Cinema, producing some of the greatest movies of all time.

Chapter List
Chapter 1: Hollywood's Second Golden Age
Hollywood's Second Golden Age lasted into the 60s and it became more and more apparent that the creative force behind the film was the director.
Chapter 2: 1967 - Mike Nichols, The Graduate
Mike Nichols, known as the actors' director, directed Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, starring Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, and also directed Catch-22, Silkwood, Primary Colors, Charlie Wilson's War and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Chapter 3: 1969 - Sam Peckinpah Redefines the Western
Sam Peckinpah changed the face of the western with his classic The Wild Bunch and also directed, The Deadly Companions and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.
Chapter 4: 1973 - Terrence Malick, Existential Philosopher
A leading director in the New Wave of American cinema, Terence Malick directed Badlands, The New World, New Wave, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life.
Chapter 5: 1974 - Mel Brooks, King of Comedy
Born Melvin Kaminsky, Mel Brooks created the comedy character of the 2000 year old man with Carl Reiner and later went on to direct the film parodies Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety.
Chapter 6: 1976 - Martin Scorsese Directs Taxi Driver
Martin Scorsese directed Mean Streets, Box Car Bertha, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.
Chapter 7: 1976 - Sidney Lumet Gives Expression to America's Angst
Sydney Lumet directed Network, Dog Day Afternoon and The Pawnbroker.

The Modern EraRunning time is 28 minutes

In The Modern Era Hollywood studios are owned by global conglomerates, and directors have become adept at both big-budget blockbusters and small budget independent gems. Program five shows how in the 21st Century a New Wave of American cinema introduces the movie director as the novelist and how this new kind of author has propelled film into the world's greatest art form. Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Clint Eastwood, P.T. Anderson and Kathryn Bigelow are featured.

Chapter List
Chapter 1: The New Wave
The New Wave of American cinema was the era of the expensive blockbuster versus the low budget indie and formalized the idea of the director as auteur.
Chapter 2: 1986 - Oliver Stone Wins His First Oscar for Directing
The auteur Oliver Stone, used the concept of cinematic visual culture in his films Platoon, Wall Street and Natural Born Killers.
Chapter 3: 1989 - Spike Lee, Black Auteur
Black auteur Spike Lee is the director of Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Summer of Sam and, Miracle of St. Anna.
Chapter 4: 1992 - Clint Eastwood Receives His First Oscar for Best Director
Clint Eastwood, who has made a director's career of studying guns and violence made the revisionist western Unforgiven as well as many other movies, including Play Misty For Me, Bridges of Madison County, Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino.
Chapter 5: 2007 - P.T. Anderson Writes and Directs There Will Be Blood
P.T. Anderson directed Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punchdrunk Love and There Will Be Blood.
Chapter 6: 2008 - Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler
Darren Aronofsky directed The Wrestler, Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and Black Swan.
Chapter 7: 2010 - Kathryn Bigelow Wins the Oscar for Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow directed Blue Steel and Zero Dark Thirty as well as The Hurt Locker, which explored the idea of the male American hero.

Supplemental Files

Hollywood's Greatest Directors - Best Director Oscar
Hollywood's Greatest Directors - Best Picture Oscar
Hollywood's Greatest Directors - Educator's Guide
Hollywood's Greatest Directors - Filmography
Hollywood's Greatest Directors - Timeline
Hollywood's Greatest Directors - Works Cited
MARC Records for HGD
MARC records for the series Hollywood's Greatest Directors
Transcription for The Silent Era
Transcription for The Coming of Sound
Transcription for The Golden Age of Hollywood
Transcription for The New Hollywood
Transcription for The Modern Era

Related Titles