50 Incredible Actor-Director Partnerships

Mel Brooks & Gene Wilder

The Director/Actor Partnership: "I might be a patient in some neuro-psychiatric hospital now, looking through bars as I made wallets," Wilder joked about what his life could have been without Brooks.

Luckily that never happened, and Brooks was able to wrestle Wilder's comic genius onto celluloid for some seriously funny skits.

Collaborations: The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein.

If You Only Watch One: Blazing Saddles , for which Wilder was called in personally by Brooks as a last minute deal. Immature but hilarious.

Vittorio De Sica & Sofia Loren

The Director/Actor Partnership: Loren referred to De Sica as "the second man of my life" after her husband, mostly because the great director taught her everything she needed to know about acting.

Together they crafted some of the most beautiful Italian films of the 1950s and '60s. "She was created differently, behaved differently, affected me differently from any woman I have known," De Sica once said.

"I looked at that face, those unbelievable eyes, and I saw it all as a miracle." Italians, eh?

Collaborations: The Gold Of Naples, Two Women, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, Marriage, Italian Style, Anatomy Of Love,

If You Only Watch One: Two Women , in which Ceseira (Loren) flees Rome during World War II.

Woody Allen & Diane Keaton

The Director/Actor Partnership : "I remember Woody saying, 'Living with you is like walking on eggshells,'" Diane Keaton recalled this year. "I think because I had too much sensitivity."

Allen used that sensitivity brilliantly in his team-ups with the actress, and though their much-publicised love affair ended badly, there's still much affection between the duo. "I still love him," Keaton says. "We talk often on the phone."

Collaborations: Play It Again, Sam, Love & Death, Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, Radio Days, Manhattan Murder Mystery.

If You Only Watch One: Annie Hall is their finest in terms of character and witty one-liners, but there's no denying the beauty of Manhattan.

Werner Herzog & Klaus Kinski

The Director/Actor Partnership: One of the most infamously volatile cinematic relationships ever.

Herzog and Kinski created fantastic films together, but almost at the expense of their own lives, falling out on set and - at various times - even plotting to kill one another.

Collaborations: Aguirre, The Wrath Of God, Nosferatu, Woyzeck, Fitzcarraldo, Cobra Verde.

If You Only Watch One:
Watch Aguirre, The Wrath of God , an entirely unique piece of work that's alternately horrifying, mesmerising and scary as hell.

Spike Lee & Denzel Washington

The Director/Actor Partnership: "Spike's movies always have a lot of layers. That's what makes them interesting," muses Denzel Washington.

He's had fun playing with those layers in four Lee films, and the duo's camaraderie, trust and friendship is evident in every single frame.

Collaborations: Mo' Better Blues, He Got Game, Malcolm X, Inside Job.

If You Only Watch One:
Malcolm X takes the edge, mostly because it fearlessly tackles controversy - and because Washington gives what Lee brands "one of the great performances of cinema".

Derek Jarman & Tilda Swinton

The Director/Actor Partnership: Both experimental artists, Jarman and Swinton became firm friends after their first collaboration, Caravaggio . It's a tragedy that any further team-ups were cut short by Jarman's death in 1994.

"He was just so familiar to me," Swinton recalled of their first meeting. "It felt like it was as if we'd just picked up some conversation that we'd left off. We just started chatting and we just went on."

Collaborations: Caravaggio, Blue, Wittgenstein, War Requiem, Edward II, The Last Of England, The Garden.

If You Only Watch One:
Caravaggio , in which Swinton throws herself fully into the passion play of a dangerous love triangle. Jarman's visuals are also stunning.

John Huston & Humphrey Bogart

The Director/Actor Partnership: With The Maltese Falcon , Huston turned Bogart into a movie star - and their collaborations only got better as they went along.

Huston's former careers as a boxer and cavalry officer chimed perfectly with Bogart's rough-and-ready demeanour.

Collaborations: The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, The African Queen, Key Largo, Beat The Devil.

If You Only Watch One: The African Queen. Bogart shares fantastic chemistry with Katharine Hepburn, and James Agee's script fair crackles.

John Cassavetes & Gena Rowlands

The Director/Actor Partnership: Cassavetes and Rowlands made 10 films together after their marriage, and Rowlands just couldn't get enough of her husband's method.

"You never stopped a take, whatever happened. If you dropped something, you would just carry on. Having that freedom added to the improvisatory reputation," she said after his death.

"And John wrote his scripts not as people should speak but as people do speak - street talk, general conversation - it gave such a natural feeling to the film that people thought they were improvised."

Collaborations: A Child Is Waiting, Faces, Machine Gun MCCain, Minnie And Moskowitz, A Woman Under The Influence, Two-Minute Warning, Opening Night, Gloria, Tempest, Love Streams.

If You Only Watch One: Give Gloria a whirl - it features Rowlands as the on-the-run girlfriend of a gangster.

Ingmar Bergman & Max von Sydow

The Director/Actor Partnership: After working together in the theatre, Bergman and Von Sydow eventually joined forces on screen.

The result was their best work, and they shared an intuitive understanding that meant Bergman rarely had to actually 'direct' his star.

"It was a continuous, very inspiring working relationship," von Sydow remembered just this year. "He had a talent of making his actors getting into the parts with 100% attention."

Collaborations: The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Brink Of Life, The Magician, The Virgin Spring, Through A Glass Darkly, Winter Light, House Of The Wolf, Shame, The Passion Of Anna, The Touch.

If You Only Watch One: Obviously The Seventh Seal, which is both austere and intoxicating, boasting some iconic cinematic language and tackling pretty heavy themes.

David Fincher & Brad Pitt

The Director/Actor Partnership: "On-screen and off-screen, Brad's the ultimate guy," Fincher said in 2011. "If I could be anyone, it would be Brad Pitt. Even if I couldn't look like him. Just to be him. He has such a great ease with who he is."

Together, Fincher and Pitt made the gritty gut-punchers that were Seven and Fight Club before straying into moony fantasy with Benjamin Button.

Collaborations: Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

If You Only Watch One:
Watch Fight Club , obviously. You know why.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.