10 Greatest Directorial Film Debuts

Directors have got to start somewhere! Here are ten of the greatest directorial debuts!

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Over the course of 120 years of motion pictures, the radical evolution of filmmaking could never truly have been envisioned by even most ambitious of cinema’s early innovators.

Sound, colour and CGI are just a few of the thousands of developments and techniques that have ultimately transformed the film industry into the world’s most celebrated artform. However, more than a century on from the early classics of Georges Méliès and Charlie Chaplin, one component of the filmmaking process remains at the heart of any production: the director.

Critical to the visual style and creative direction of the film, a director’s responsibility to dictate the actors and crew has predominantly stayed the same, whether it be the studio productions of “Hollywood’s Golden Era” or the Blockbuster Epics of “Modern Cinema”.

The art of directing is one that requires a multitude of skills, which in most cases takes years of training and practice to expertise. Regardless, directors have to start somewhere and as shown by the films on this list, directing can be just as much of a gift than a skill that can be mastered. This list will look at ten of the most impressive directorial debuts.

10. Mel Brooks – The Producers (1967)

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Embassy Pictures

Comedy great Mel Brooks began a stellar career as one of the genre's greatest personalities with the groundbreaking and controversial black comedy, The Producers. Brooks' story revolves around a theatre producer's efforts to create the worst Broadway musical of all time.

The concept is simplistic and innocent on paper, but never afraid to push the boundaries, Brooks decided to make said musical a love letter to Adolf Hitler!

Written by a deranged former Nazi, "Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden" is a sincere romanticized depiction of Nazi Germany in a musical format.

As the first slapstick comedic depiction of the evil Nazi regime would inevitably be slammed by some critics as tasteless and vulgar. Overtime these mixed reviews were eventually squashed by the film's prolonged legacy, with the musical gaining cult status and later becoming a real show on Broadway!

Brooks would win his only Academy Award for the musical, winning Best Screenplay in what was a rare triumph for the comedy genre at the Oscars. The Producers was also the first of a series of collaborations with close friend Gene Wilder, with Blazing Saddles (1974) and Young Frankenstein (1974) also gaining a cult following.


Film and history enthusiast, writing articles about some of cinema's best from both the past and present. Find me on Twitter @JThurstance