Born in London on August 13, 1899, Alfred Hitchcock worked for a short time in engineering before entering the film industry in 1920. He left for Hollywood in 1939, where his first American film, Rebecca, won an Academy Award for best picture. Hitchcock created more than 50 films, including the classics Rear Window, The 39 Steps and Psycho. Nicknamed the "Master of Suspense," Hitchcock received the AFI's Life Achievement Award in 1979. It was while working at Henley's that he began to write, submitting short articles for the in-house publication. From his very first piece, he employed themes of false accusations, conflicted emotions and twist endings with impressive skill. In 1920, Hitchcock entered the film industry with a full-time position at the Famous Players-Lasky Company designing title cards for silent films. Within a few years, he was working as an assistant director.In 1925, Hitchcock directed his first film and began making the "thrillers" for which he became known the world over. His 1929 film Blackmail is said to be the first British "talkie." In the 1930s, he directed such classic suspense films as The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The 39 Steps (1935).His works became renowned for their depictions of violence, although many of his plots merely function as decoys meant to serve as a tool for understanding complex psychological characters. His cameo appearances in his own films, as well as his interviews, film trailers and the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1962-65), made him a cultural icon.
Born in Tennessee in 1963, Quentin Tarantino grew up loving movies more than school. In his early 20s, he got a job at the Video Archives, where he wrote the scripts for True Romance andNatural Born Killers. His directorial debut came with 1992'sReservoir Dogs, but he received wide critical and commercial acclaim with Pulp Fiction (1994), which earned more than $108 million at the box office—the first independent film to do so. In 2003 and 2004,Tarantino released his Kill Billseries, which led to a Golden Globe nomination for Uma Thurman, who starred in the films. Tarantino was later nominated for two Academy Awards (best director and best original screenplay) for the filmInglourious Basterds (2009).During his time at Video Archives, Tarantino worked on several screenplays, including True Romance and Natural Born Killers. He also landed a guest spot on the popular sitcom The Golden Girls, playing an Elvis impersonator.With Pulp Fiction (1994), Tarantino created an unpredictable thrill ride filled with violence and pop culture references. In one story in the film, John Travolta played Vincent Vega, a hit man assigned to look after his boss' girlfriend (Uma Thurman)—a role that helped resuscitate his then-flagging career. Another part examined Vega's partnership with fellow hit man Jules Winnfield (played by Samuel L. Jackson). And yet another storyline involved Bruce Willis as a boxer. Tarantino managed to successfully interweave all these different stories to make a fascinating film. "His mind works like the Tasmanian Devil on a bullet train. It's so fast that very few people can keep up with his references," actor Eric Stoltz, who played a drug dealer in the film, explained to Los Angeles magazine.Instead of tackling his war epic, Tarantino jumped into the world of martial arts films. The idea for Kill Bill was formed by Tarantino and Thurman in a bar during the filming of Pulp Fiction. In 2000, Thurman ran into Tarantino at an Oscar party and asked about whether he had made any progress on developing that idea. He promised her that he would write the script as a birthday present for her. Initially he said that he would get it done two weeks, but it actually took over a year. For this film, Tarantino learned on the fly how to make a kung fu film, working and reworking the sequences as he went along.
Born November 17, 1942, in Flushing, New York, Martin Scorsese is known for his gritty, meticulous filmmaking style and is widely considered one of the most important directors of all time. Scorsese's passion for films started at a young age, as he was an 8-year-old pint-sized filmmaker. Because Scorsese was afflicted by severe asthma, his childhood activities were limited; rather than play sports, he spent much of his time in front of the television or at the movie theater, where he fell in love especially with stories about the Italian experience and films by director Michael Powell. By the time he was 8 years old, Scorsese was already drawing his own storyboards, often complete with the line, "Directed and Produced by Martin Scorsese.Scorsese was raised a devout Catholic and even entertained the idea of entering the priesthood before deciding to pursue filmmaking instead. Although his parents "didn't get" his mania for movies, Scorsese felt he was headed in the right direction when a 10-minute comedy short earned him a $500 scholarship to New York University.In 1973, Scorsese directed Mean Streets, his first film to be widely acknowledged as a masterpiece. Revisiting characters from Who's That Knocking at My Door?, the film showcased elements that have since become trademarks of Scorsese's filmmaking: dark themes, unsympathetic lead characters, religion, the Mafia, unusual camera techniques and contemporary music. Directing Mean Streets also introduced Scorsese to Robert De Niro, sparking one of the most dynamic filmmaking partnerships in Hollywood history.
Film director Ridley Scott was born on November 30, 1937, in South Shields, Durham, England. He began pursuing his interest in film while in college and went on to work for the BBC, before founding his own commercial production company, Ridley Scott Associates. He brought his younger brother, Tony Scott, also a director, on to work with him at RSA. Ridley Scott went on to direct many successful films, including Gladiator, Thelma & Louise,Alien and Blade Runner.In the late 1960s, Scott founded Ridley Scott Associates, a film and commercial production company, and brought Tony on to work with him. The company garnered attention for the Scott brothers, along with other commercial directors, including Alan Parker and Hugh Hudson. Still, Scott continued to pursue a career in film directing. He finally landed a job directing the 1977 film The Duellists, which was nominated for the main prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and won an award for best film.Scott then went on to direct the movies Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver, and Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford. Blade Runnerfailed at the box office in 1982, but later became regarded as a classic. In 1986, Scott's brother, Tony, released his first blockbuster, beating Scott to the punch. But Scott quickly caught up in 1991, with the film Thelma & Louise, starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. The film was one of Scott's biggest critical successes, and it helped revive his reputation and receive his first Academy Award nomination for best director.