The Best Films by Debut Directors!

Liam Gaughan at /Film compiled his list of The 15 Best Debut Films From Directors.  It’s a good list and so I decided to play along.  Here are my top 5 (in alphabetical order) selected from Gaughan’s 15 plus three that didn’t make his list that would have made mine…

Cohen Brothers: Blood Simple.  What an amazing debut that kickstarted a career that has spanned over three decades in ever changing genres.  I drove over 100 miles round trip to see Blood Simple when it first came out since it wasn’t showing anywhere near me.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Huston, John: The Maltese Falcon.  George Raft turned down the role of Sam Spade because he didn’t want to work with a first time director!  What a mistake.  We’re better off for it, because Bogart makes the perfect lead.

Mann, Michael: Thief.  Mann’s first outing in the director’s chair shows the foundation for his movie trademarks: night scenes, music and noir.

Romero, George: Night of the Living Dead How many directors have directed a debut film that generated multi-billion dollars across movies, books, toys, comics, posters, t-shirts and more?

Welles, Orson: Citizen Kane.  Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane is arguably the best, most revered first time director’s debut of all.  Sadly, Welles never rose to those heights again (who could?), but he did go on to direct and star in other great films.


The three debut directors that didn’t make Gaughan’s list but that would have made mine are…

Hill, Walter: Hard Times.  Straight out of the shoot, Hill directed Charles Bronson and James Coburn in a depression era macho film that had heart.   He would follow Hard Times with The Driver, The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort, 48 hrs, and Streets of Fire!

McQuarrie, Christopher: Way of the Gun.  While Way of the Gun isn’t for everyone, those that love it, LOVE IT.  McQuarrie wouldn’t direct another film for over a decade until he helmed Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise.  McQuarrie then went on to direct Cruise in three Mission Impossible films (two still to be released).

Stahelski, Chad: John Wick.  After Stahelski’s debut, action films took on a new look aka “John Wick” action.