The Seven Greatest Director/Actor Combos


7: Tim Burton & Johnny Depp:

 Edward Scissorhands; Ed Wood; Sleepy Hollow; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Corpse Bride; Sweeney Todd; Alice in Wonderland; Dark Shadows

 Of all the parings on this list, these two make the oddest films. (In a good way.) Tim Burton is one of the most visually imaginative filmmakers of his generation and Johnny Depp was once the polymorphous master of playing a wide variety of eccentric characters. They were a natural combo. Depp made most of his best films with Burton, before his current ‘Jack Sparrow’ period began. The duo had the knack for telling stories about misfits and freaks, yet making them seem sympathetic and likable.


6: Billy Wilder & Jack Lemmon:

 Some Like It Hot; The Apartment; Irma La Douce; The Fortune Cookie; Avanti; The Front Page; Buddy Buddy

 Viennese born Billy Wilder was an existentialist director, who had a cynical yet light-hearted style of film making. Actor Jack Lemmon had an infectious likability that made him the perfect man to soften Wilder’s acerbic view of the world. Wilder said the reason their working relationship was so good was because Lemmon would always bring him ideas but never get mad or argue if the ideas were rejected. Their comic masterpiece Some Like It Hot was voted by the American Film Institute as the greatest comedy ever made. 


5: Martin Scorsese & Robert De Niro:

 Mean Streets; Taxi Driver; New York, New York; Raging Bull; The King of Comedy; GoodFellas; Cape Fear; Casino

 Gritty director Martin Scorsese specialized in films about disturbed loners or gangsters in violent New York settings. Robert De Niro was an acting legend back in the 20th Century, wildly considered the greatest in the world from the 70s-90s. Scorsese directed De Niro in multiple films, including directing De Niro to an Oscar-winning performance as boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. The classic film won eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and was picked by Siskel & Ebert as the greatest film of the 1980s.


4: Ingmar Bergman & Max Von Sydow:

 Brink of Life; Hour of the Wolf; the Magician; the Passion of Anna; The Seventh Seal; the Shame; Through a Glass Darkly; The Touch; The Virgin Spring; Wild Strawberries; The Winter Light.

 This duo is the most well known pairing of actor/director from the Swedish film industry. The central theme of director Ingmar Bergman’s films were usually about God, man’s place in the universe and the meaning of life. They would also frequently focus on the cruelty men and women routinely inflict upon one another, often through marriage. Bergman was known for being able to bring a powerful, emotional performance out of even a mediocre actor. When he worked with the talented, aristocratic Academy Award winner Max Von Sydow, you could always expect an amazing performance.


3. John Huston & Humphrey Bogart:

 The Maltese Falcon; Across the Pacific; Key Largo; Treasure of the Sierra Madre; The African Queen; Beat the Devil

 John Huston was a 10-time Oscar nominated director, writer and actor. Humphrey Bogart started out as a ‘tough guy’ actor but grew to become one of the great-all around actors of the 1940s and 50s. The two of them were catapulted to fame at the same time when Huston directed Bogart in the classic murder mystery, The Maltese Falcon, widely considered the greatest detective noir film ever made. Huston would direct Bogart five more times, including Bogart’s Oscar winning performance in The African Queen.


2: John Ford & John Wayne:

 Stagecoach; They Were Expendable; The Long Voyage Home; Fort Apache; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; Rio Grande; The Searchers; The Horse Soldiers; The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; How the West Was Won; The Quiet Man; Wings of Eagles.

 Director John Ford was the master of the Western. When you look at a list of the best Hollywood Westerns ever made, Ford’s name pops up again and again. As does the name of John Wayne, the greatest action movie hero of the 20th century. The two of them collaborated on many great films. Together, they brought the genre out of the realm of cheap B-Pictures or serials, and thrust it into glory as one of the most popular film genres of the 1930-50s. They occasionally made non-Westerns together, such as the the Quiet Man.


1: Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune:

 Drunken Angel; A Quiet Duel; Stray Dog; Scandal; Rashomon; The Idiot; The Seven Samurai; I Live in Fear; Throne of Blood; The Lower Depths; The Hidden Fortress; The Bad Sleep Well; Yojimbo; Sanjuro; High and Low; Red Beard

 Akira Kurosawa is arguably the greatest director in the history of the Japanese film industry. He is known as the master of the “Eastern” (a type of cinema based on American Westerns but placing the stories in Japanese historical settings, with swords instead of guns) and his films became even more popular in the US than they were in his native country. Toshiro Mifune was his most frequent leading man, appearing in 16 Kurosawa films. Mifune achieved more international fame than any other Japanese actor of the 20th century. They made so many classic films together that their names have almost become synonymous over time.