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Exploring the Impact: The Directorial Debuts of the Best Movie Directors

You might think all the big name directors made it big with their first directional role; if so, this list might surprise you! From Steven Spielberg to Alfred Hitchcock, here's the directorial debuts of the best movie directors.

#1 STEVEN Spielberg - the sugarland express (1974)

This crime/thriller is based on a true story. Focused on a mother (Goldie Hawn) reuniting her family though any means necessary, she goes to extreme lengths, including escaping from prison, kidnapping a Texas policeman, and leading a wild police chase across Texas.

Gaining recognition from American film critics such as The New Yorker's Pauline Kael who said the movie is "one of the most phenomenal debut films in the history of movies." With new filming innovations such as tracking shots and a 360° panning shot with dialog, this movie helped to set the foundation for decades of films to follow.

#2 martin scorsese - Who's that knocking at my door (1967)

Due to his Catholic upbringing, J.R. has difficulty accepting the past of a woman he has grown to love. Harvey Keitel, as J.R., appears as the lead character in his first credited role.

Also appearing in the film as J.R.'s mother, is Catherine Scorsese, Martin's own mother. Scorsese uses the black and white nature of the film to his advantage, using the lack of color to hide the difference between night and day. Nude scenes were asked of Scorsese and included, so the film could be marketed as a "sexploitation" movie.

A remake of the film was made in 2015 titled, "I Call First."

#3 Alfred hitchcock - the pleasure garden (1925)

Based on a book by the same name, by Marguerite Florence Laura Jarvis. Jill Cheyne, an up-and-coming dancer, arrives in London to meet with the owner of The Pleasure Garden theater, where she has her money stolen. Fellow chorus dancer, Patsy Brand, sees her struggle and offers her a place to stay at The Pleasure Garden. With Patsy's help, Jill gets a part in the show. Jill's fiance, Hugh, arrives, and he and Patsy become close friends leaving Jill to find company in the arms of other men.

Considered a "bland but acceptable" film with critics stating that had this film not been made by someone that would go on to make great future films, this one would likely be forgotten. Though certainly memorable for Sir Alfred Hitchcock, as he and Alma Reville got engaged during the shoot!

#4 stanley kubrick - day of the fight (1951)

Based on a photo feature (Prize Fighter) shot by Kubrick for Look magazine, this 16 minute black and white boxing documentary, shows boxer Walter Cartier the day of his fight with Bobby James.

Financed by Kubrick, with a $3,900 production cost, Kubrick sold the film to RKO Pictures for a whopping $100 profit. RKO paid $4,000 for the film.

Kubrick used multiple shots and angles (such as a top down view of the ring) and was not afraid of getting in the ring during the fight to get the shots necessary to capture his vision.

#5 james cameron - piranha ii: the spawning (1982)

Described by Cameron himself as "a piece of garbage," Cameron was fired from the film just one week into filming.

Written as a Jaws knockoff, Piranha II: The Spawning was a box office flop which lead Cameron to develop his own projects including some of the greatest films ever made such as "The Terminator," "T2: Judgement Day," "Aliens," and later the two of the highest grossing films "Titanic" and "Avatar."

These groundbreaking directors have left their mark on the history of cinema. Not all successful filmmakers have breakthrough beginnings like Cameron, but they have worked hard to show the world the fantasies and visions that we've come to know.

What debut most surprised you?

Do you have a favorite Director or debut that's not listed? Let me know down below!


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