kubrick was all over the place, and he was great at it. Horror, costume drama, psychological thriller, etc etc
allen always works within the paradigm comedy/drama.
Some attempt while others dont for many number a reasons.
Which directors have been boldly successful in their genre switches and which havent?
How is a director today perceived when attempting a new genre having already made a name in a different?
Rob Reiner comes to mind as does Sydney Pollack. But many may dismiss these two as too “Hollywood”.
Danny Boyle also has made some genre-defining films over the past decade or so. Sunshine and 28 Days Later are both terrific entries in their respective genres, in my opinion.
I would also say that Jonathan Demme has had a pretty interesting career. Something Wild, Married to the Mod, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married – these are all pretty different and some more successful than others. And then of course he’s got his docs – both in music and in biographies.
Lars von Trier
Alan Parker has done many genres with mixed results
MASH – war movie
McCabe and Mrs. Miller – Western
Images – psychological horror
The Long Goodbye – neo noir
Thieves Like Us – period piece
Nashville/Popeye – Musical
Quintet – science fiction
Secret Honor – bio pic
Gosford Park – murder mystery
Also, Sidney Lumet
Terrence Malick lol
edit: especially if we include Lanton Mills
I’ll name my favorites, The Coen brothers:
They’ve done quite a bit. Film-noir, thriller, western, gangster, romance, mystery/detective, horror, dark comedy, screwball comedy, slapstic comedy, slacker comedy, spy, heist, escape. I’m still waiting for a full on sci-fi and war movie from them.
Altman would be the perfect example. Jean Renoir’s jumped around abit:
Dr. Cordelier (Horror)
French Can Can (musical)
La Bete Humaine (Noir)
Grand Illusion (war)
And lots of drama
Howard Hawks is still the king of this though:
Comedy (Bringing Up Baby)
Western (Rio Bravo)
Anti War (Road to Glory)
Pro War (Air Force)
Epic Sword Play (Land of the Pharoahs)
Musical (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)
Horror/Sci Fi (The Thing)
Straight up drama (Come and Get It)
Mystery (The Big Sleep)
Prison Drama (Criminal Code)
“Excalibur” (Middle-Age mythology)
“Deliverance” (Brutal survival drama)
“Hope and Glory (Biographical WW2 story)
“Leo the Last” (social comedy)
Boorman continued:Catch Us if You Can (1965) a.k.a. Having a Wild Weekend – Pop-musical comedyPoint Blank (1967) – neo-noirHell in the Pacific (1968) – war (of sorts)Exorcist II: The Heretic – horror (of sorts)Where the Heart Is (1989) – comedyThe General (1998) – policierThe Tailor of Panama (2001) – spy thriller (of sorts)
WWW: Wellman, Wise and Wyler.
What a sad thread. Flip Trotsky gets it.
^Except that he missed the biggest W of them all, Wilder.
Great genre filmmakers are survivalists. Wilder was merely an opportunist.
Yeah, pretty much any director with a reasonably long resume compiled during the heyday of the Hollywood studio system would fit. Raoul Walsh, Michael Curtiz, Lewis Milestone, John Huston, George Cukor, Tay Garnett, Allan Dwan, Gordon Douglas, Edgar Ulmer, and so on and so on. One could quibble about the term “successful” I suppose depending on what measure you would use, but for much of the first half of the last century the director was often either simply assigned to projects for reasons that didn’t necessarily have much to do with the genre per se, but simply availability, with some consideration for how they worked, who they worked well with, and past success. Successful directors had more pull and, if they hadn’t signed a disadvantageous contract, could select their projects more carefully, but that often meant that they would opt not to pigeonhole themselves as some sort of specialist as that could be limiting and probably not that much fun.
Another big difference between then and later was in the amount of projects a decent director would undertake or be assigned. Having three or four movies in a year wasn’t uncommon, so by sheer numbers they would be more likely to attack more genres than today’s directors with their much more limited output. Even so, it seems that many of the more successful directors want to try their hand at multiple genres for much the same reasons as in the earlier era, even if their options for doing so are more scarce nowadays. I imagine their is some idea about which directors are primarily versatile and thus not too strongly associated with a given genre, but that isn’t entirely satisfactory as one or two outsized successes can tie a director to a genre in the popular consciousness even if their work outside that genre is otherwise strong.
Edit: Something associated with that last point would be that in some notions of more auteurist thinking, strong directors basically create their own genre, that is to say that while someone like Hawks may have worked with a variety of storytypes, his films are always recognizably his own, and therefore connected in something like their own unique genre rather than being more suitably confined to belonging first to some story based subset. Just think of a director like Godard, for example, one could claim he worked in wide variety of genres, but most people would, i think, tend instead to think of his body of work primarily in terms of his singular approach or style.
Kurosawa. His non-Samurai films are often just as good as his more popular Samurai fare.