Fourteen Underrated Directors of the Classic Era

Well all know the big-name directors of old Hollywood: John Ford. Alfred Hitchcock. William Wyler. Howard Hawks. W.S. Van Dyke. George Cukor. Billy Wilder. Frank Capra. Vincente Minnelli. The list goes on, and they’re all well-remembered for good reason. But what about those forgotten fellas who barely get a mention, even in the movie-centric blogosphere?

Perhaps they have a well-known film or two, but they aren’t discussed as much as they should be. Their names aren’t thrown around often or included on every “best” list, so I’ve decided to shine the spotlight on a few of these folks.

Below are fourteen directors that I consider to be underrated. Please note that “Number of films directed” does not include uncredited work or TV episodes/TV movies, but does include short films. Without further ado, listed alphabetically by last name…

(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

Larceny, Inc., a film by Lloyd Bacon (Image via Movie Poster Shop)

Lloyd Bacon
Years active as director: 1922 – 1954
Number of films directed: 129
TMP favorites: 42nd Street; Larceny, Inc.; Marked Woman; Picture Snatcher

Curtis Bernhardt
Years active as director: 1925 – 1964
Number of films directed: 42
TMP favorites: My Love Came Back, My Reputation, Possessed

William Castle
Years active as director: 1939 – 1974
Number of films directed: 58
TMP favorites: House on Haunted Hill, Macabre, The Tingler

Jack Conway
Years active as director: 1912 – 1948
Number of films directed: 107
TMP favorites: Libeled Lady, Love Crazy, Julia Misbehaves

(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

It Started with Eve, a film by Henry Koster(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

Alexander Hall
Years active as director: 1916 – 1956
Number of films directed: 43
TMP favorites: Down to Earth, My Sister Eileen, There’s Always a Woman

Garson Kanin
Years active as director: 1938 – 1969
Number of films directed: 16
TMP favorites: Bachelor Mother, My Favorite Wife, Next Time I Marry

Henry Koster
Years active as director: 1932 – 1966
Number of films directed: 49
TMP favorites: The Bishop’s Wife, It Started with Eve, Three Smart Girls

Gregory La Cava
Years active as director: 1916 – 1948
Number of films directed: 172
TMP favorites: The Age of Consent, My Man Godfrey, Primrose Path, Stage Door

Mitchell Leisen
Years active as director: 1933 – 1967
Number of films directed: 40
TMP favorites: Hands Across the Table, Midnight, Remember the Night

Gun Crazy (Image via Film Forager)

Gun Crazy, a film by Joseph H. Lewis (Image via Film Forager)

Joseph H. Lewis
Years active as director: 1937 – 1966
Number of films directed: 40
TMP favorites: Gun Crazy, My Name is Julia Ross

Jean Negulesco
Years active as director: 1936 – 1970
Number of films directed: 83
TMP favorites: Johnny Belinda, How to Marry a Millionaire, Three Coins in the Fountain

George Sidney

The Harvey Girls (Image via Pinterest)

The Harvey Girls, a film by George Sidney (Image via Pinterest)

Years active as director: 1936 – 1967
Number of films directed: 51
TMP favorites: Bye Bye Birdie, The Harvey Girls, Kiss Me Kate

Charles Vidor
Years active as director: 1929 – 1960
Number of films directed: 34
TMP favorites: Cover Girl, Gilda

Sam Wood
Years active as director: 1920 – 1950
Number of films directed: 68
TMP favorites: The Devil and Miss Jones, Our Town, Pride of the Yankees

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6 thoughts on “Fourteen Underrated Directors of the Classic Era

    • Lindsey says:

      He was on my initial list, but I bumped him as I was narrowing it down since he is the director of two of the most well-known classics: Casablanca and White Christmas. Even people who have never seen those films have at least heard of them. (My goal was to get the list down to 10, which was clearly impossible haha.) The films themselves get more attention than he does as a director, though, so he probably would have made a good 15th!

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