Charles Chaplin –This screen comedy legend was so well regarded in his time he released two mostly silent films (1931’s City Lights, 1936’s Modern Times) after the advent of sound and saw them both reach great success. Chaplin’s features were funny and moving masterpieces that pop up on many a “100 Greatest Films” list.
D.W. Griffith – the first epic filmmaker, Griffith was responsible for many pioneering techniques that helped greatly advanced film as a storytelling medium in the silent era. Griffith is best known for the controversial pro – KKK film Birth Of A Nation (1915) and his mea culpa for that (still highly esteemed) P.R. snafu, Intolerance (1916).
Francis Ford Coppola – In the 70s, he made the first two Godfather films, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now. That’s perfection achieved four consecutive times. Coppola’s gift to cinema in those four films is immeasurable, so much that many will surely balk at his absence in the Top 5.
John Ford - If Orson Welles and Ingmar Bergman name you one of the greatest directors, you probably did alright. The master of the long shot, Ford used the American Frontier as a wide canvas in classics like Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1948) and The Searchers (1954) , taking home four Best Director wins over a long , sterling career.