DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #25 – #21
My 50 Favourite Directors #25 – #21
*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*
Psychedelic, symbolic, poetic, comical, animated and strange; this quintet of directors are all visual mind-benders!
#25. Tod Browning
What I’ve Seen: The Unholy Three (1925), The Blackbird (1926), London After Midnight (1927), The Unknown (1927), West of Zanzibar (1928), Dracula (1931), Freaks (1932), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Devil-Doll (1936)
Tod Browning is a man after Goregirl’s heart with all his circus and carnival themed fare! I have seen a mere 9 of Tod Browning’s 50 full length feature films. It has been incredibly difficult finding Browning’s films on DVD or in any format frankly. What a shame because I thought all 9 of the films on my ‘seen’ list were excellent! Dracula is probably his best known film (and it is pretty fantastic) but The Unknown starring Lon Chaney (SR) as an armless knife-thrower is my personal favourite! I gave The Unknown, Freaks and The Devil-Doll perfect marks; Dracula and London after Midnight are not too far behind the trio. Browning’s filmmaking career began during the silent film era and he has a significant number of both silent and speaking titles in his resume. Come for the great stories and colourful characters but stay for the fantastic ground-breaking visuals! Tod Browning died October 6, 1962 at the age of 82. Browning is a legend!
#24. Jan Svankmajer
What I’ve Seen: Alice (1988), Lesson Faust (1994), Conspirators of Pleasure (1996), Greedy Guts (2000), Lunacy (2005), Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010)
I have reviewed three of Jan Svankmajer’s films and made two slideshows in his honour. You could say I am a fan. The following is a blurb from my review for Surviving Life that sums up Svankmajer pretty well; “Svankmajer is one of the most original film makers alive today who uses both animation and live action to create unique, surreal and often macabre images to compliment his imaginative stories.” I have seen all 6 full length feature films from Czech director Jan Svankmajer. Svankmajer also made a ton of shorts which I highly recommend seeking out! I love all six of these films but if forced to choose it would be a toss up between Alice, Conspirators of Pleasure and Surviving Life. Jan Svankmajer is incredibly unique and special; there aren’t enough adjectives out there to cover it.
#23. Fritz Lang
What I’ve Seen: Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922), Metropolis (1927), Woman in the Moon (1929), M (1931), The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), Fury (1936), You Only Live Once (1937), Hangmen Also Die! (1943), The Woman in the Window (1944), The Big Heat (1953), While the City Sleeps (1956)
I have seen 11 of Fritz Lang’s 46 full length feature films. What a list! The superb science fiction epic Metropolis, the mesmerizing crime-thriller Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, the gritty crime drama M and the gripping horror-mystery The Testament of Dr. Mabuse are nothing short of masterpieces. While nothing compares to the amazing visuals in his late 20s and early 30s films, he contributed some pretty freaking amazing and moody entries to the film-noir genre also; particularly The Big Heat which is a personal favourite. There are so many Lang films still for me to see and that warms the cockles of my heart. I am sixth in the library queue for The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse! Fritz Lang retired from filmmaking after filming Journey to the Lost City in 1960 and died August 2, 1976 at the age of 85 leaving behind a most impressive legacy!
#22. Luis Buñuel
What I’ve Seen: The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955), The Exterminating Angel (1962), Diary of a Chambermaid (1964), Belle de Jour (1967), The Milky Way (1969), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), The Phantom of Liberty (1974)
If cinematic surrealism had a king it would have to be Buñuel. He made his first film Un chien andalou in 1929 with Salvador-freaking-Dali! Can’t get more surreal than that! Because Un chien andalou is a short I did not include it on my list, but it is a real trippy treat! I have much ground to cover yet as I have seen just 7 of Luis Buñuel’s 30 full length feature films. I have loved the hell out of what I have seen thus far! The sexy and surprising (wow! What an ending!) Belle de Jour and Catherine Deneuve’s superb performance garnered a perfect score from me, likewise the funny and quirky The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz and The Exterminating Angel. You need not be a brain surgeon to surmise Mr. Buñuel had issue with the middle class and religion. Themes present in varying degrees in all 7 of the films I’ve seen. Buñuel’s films are funny, sexy, bizarre, disconcerting and always unique. I know little to nothing about Buñuel; but his unforgettable array of images could only come from a truly eccentric personality. I have L’âge d’or, The Brute and Tristana in my library queue and I look forward to one day seeing every last one of the brilliant Buñuel’s funky films!
#21. Alejandro Jodorowsky
What I’ve Seen: Fando y Lis (1968), El Topo (1970), The Holy Mountain (1973), Tusk (1980), Santa Sangre (1989), The Rainbow Thief (1990)
I have seen all 6 full length feature films from director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Six freaking films? What the hell is up with that? I need more! More I tell you! I have given 4 of Jodorowsky’s 6 films a perfect score! There are films I love and than there are films I LOVE and El Topo is one of those films I LOVE. El Topo’s journey is a fascinating one on its own but it is also full of social, religious and political statements of a symbolic nature. Despite having seen El Topo multiple times it still mesmerizes and moves me in equal measure. I did not think Jodorowsky could top El Topo until I seen The Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre and Fando y Lis all perfect films and like El Topo visual extravaganzas. Jodorowsky even made Santa Sangre with a carnival theme and horror elements! Thanks Jodorowsky! Jodorowsky is 83 years old and still going. There has long been a rumour that Jodorowsky was going to complete a “Son of El Topo” project. There was also a film listed on IMDB called King Shot which was to star Marilyn Manson, Nick Nolte, Asia Argento and Udo Kier, but has since been removed. It is one of my greatest desires to see one more film from Jodorowsky. If I won the lottery I would give Jodorowsky money to make that film.