Keeping a tally of the films I’ve seen by great directors is an old hobby of mine.
My first attempts to keep a record of this took the form of highlighting film titles in the indices at the back of Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide 1995.
In recent years the tallying has largely gone on in my head, but I recently decided to check up on how the numbers were doing. I’d made surprisingly little headway with some directors in recent years. And others that I presumed to know a lot about I’d seen an embarrassingly unrepresentative selection of their work (Rossellini, for example. Without having seen any of his later TV stuff how can I ever profess too have an opinion about his body of work?).
Another difficulty was how to establish a director’s body of work. IMDB lists everything filmmakers have ever directed, including shorts, compendium films, TV work and documentaries. In some cases the amount of TV work I haven’t seen from prominent directors makes it look like I’ve got large gaps when In reality I’ve seen pretty much all their major cinematic works (Allen, Scorsese, Welles, Antonioni, Hitchcock), so it might have made sense so devise my own lists of solely cinematic features and worked from them. But in the end I decided to stick with IMDB’s totals because it would start getting complicated and also because there is the odd director of whom I’ve seen most their shorts, docs and TV stuff (Herzog).
So below is where I currently stand with the greats. If it looks unimpressive I ask you to do your own tallies because I think you’d be surprised. It’s difficult scratching off relatively minor efforts from the greats when there are so many other avenues, and newer releases to catch up on. I have, however, decided to make much more effort on a few directors whose unwatched films I have in my collection so there are no real excuses – Renoir, Bergman, Pasolini and Fassbinder. Once I’ve crossed those off I need to turn my attention to those filmmakers I’m really doing myself a disservice with – Chabrol, Rohmer and Resnais.
Nicholas Ray 8/30
Woody Allen 38/48