For Episode 9, our Top 6 is about great directorial debuts. Some great directors, like Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder, start out under the radar and build to greatness. Others are great right off the bat. In some cases, a director’s very first film winds up being his best.
This is most notoriously the case with Orson Welles, whose directorial debut of Citizen Kane (1941), one of the greatest of all films and pretty much universally regarded as the best directorial debut in cinema history. For that reason, we have excluded Citizen Kane from our list of Top 6 Directorial Debuts, just so we can talk about some other choices. It’s the best. We agree with the consensus. So let’s move on.
Another unusual thing to note about this list is that Stephen and I conspired and purposefully chose not to duplicate any of our choices. We did this because there were a lot of great choices, more than we initially anticipated, and we wanted to make sure we got to talk about twelve different movies. So, as we say in the podcast, a couple titles on each list would have gone on both, but we agreed to divvy them up between us.
What are your favorite Directorial Debuts Other Than Citizen Kane?
As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.
- Francois Truffaut, with The 400 Blows (1959)
- Jean-Luc Godard, with Breathless (1960)
- John Huston, with The Maltese Falcon (1941)
- Terrence Malick, with Badlands (1973)
- Joel and Ethan Coen, with Blood Simple (1984)
- Shane Carruth, with Primer (2004)
- Sidney Lumet, with Twelve Angry Men (1957)
- Fernando Meirelles, with City of God (2002)
- David Mamet, with House of Games (1987)
- Steven Spielberg, with Duel (1971)
- Sam Peckinpah, with Ride the High Country (1962) [see Sam’s comment below]
- Andrew Niccol, with Gattaca (1997)