When actors step behind the camera, are they simply fulfilling an egocentric vanity trip, are they taking on projects too personal to be handled by anyone else, or are they simply wishing to expand into and learn other aspects of the craft. Whatever the reason, some actors make the transition into directing smoothly, even effortlessly, and they become just as well known for their work behind the camera as well as in front.
Two names come up in that regard, Clint Eastwood and more recently, Ben Affleck; their work no doubt informed by what they experienced and learnt as actors. However, there are some actors who also had the opportunity to direct but whose oeuvre is either forgotten or just not that well known for a plethora of reasons.
Here is a list of ten famous actors who thought they had what it takes to become auteurs but whose directorial work isn’t nearly as visible or well known as some of their fellow thespians …
10. Charles Laughton – Night Of The Hunter (1955)
Charles Laughton’s stunning directorial debut was sadly also his one and only effort behind the camera. So dismayed was he by the critical and commercial failure of the film, that he vowed never to make another movie again. More’s the pity; Night of the Hunter, derided as it may have been in its day, is now considered a classic of black and white cinema, as well as one of the best films of the 1950s, and rightly so.
Blending surrealism, film noir and even fairy tale elements, Night of the Hunter features Robert Mitchum in the role of the evil Reverend Harry Powel (a serial killer masquerading as a preacher), who comes to the town of Cresap’s Landing in West Virginia (by the Ohio River) in search of $10.000 he believes the children of his former prison cell mate are hiding. To say more would be to spoil the film; it’s just a shame that Laughton never got to see the heap of awards and praise that has since been lavished on the film. Do yourself a favour and watch this. You will not be disappointed.
This article was first posted on September 3, 2013