John Ford is the winningest director in Oscar history -- four of them he received over the course of his career -- but that's not why he's on this list, though it helps. It's not for more or less discovering John Wayne either. Though that helps, too.
The Informer 1935 dir. John Ford Cast Victor McLaglen Heather Angel
John Ford was one of the first and maybe the best at playing the singular individual against the vastness of nature, and in so doing laid the ground work for the modern epic. Other director's are probably more known for that particular style of filmmaking--David Lean certainly explored further into what an epic could do--but there would have been no David Lean without John Ford.
Like Chaplin and Hitchock, Ford started out in the silent's, transporting the ability to tell a story in purely visual terms into the age of sound (and eventually color and cinemascope) without losing his own personal voice. And like Hitchcok, Ford was a specialist. He made the western what is and was.
It's hard to remember, today, just how big the Western was in its heyday. In the 1950s if you were going to make a new TV show, it was probably going to be a western. While superhero comics languished, western comics rode on. And ever year, any studio worth its salt was making sure it had a slate full of western's.
And Ford was its master. "Stage Coach" "The Searchers" "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." Even people who didn't make western's the way Ford did often made them in spite of the way he made them. If you made a Western, John Ford was your starting point.
But he was certainly capable of other things. His adaptation of "The Grapes of Wrath" is as good as any western he ever made. There are similarities of course, but that might be less because he turned everything into a western as it is that he found the innate humanity in all of his stories, and it is that which made all of his films so good.
Even decades after his preferred genre has fallen from the pedestal it once sat on, John Ford still remains.
WATCH TOP 10 JOHN FORD FILMS MOVIE SCENES
10.THE SEARCHERS - The best scene in the film. A lot going on without much happening!
9.FORT APACHE - Fort Apache is a 1948 western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda.
8.SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON - "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" is a 1949 western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne.
7.RIO GRANDE - Rio Grande is a 1950 western film and the third installment of John Ford's "cavalry trilogy",