Perhaps the best-known actors that are also their own directors are Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Seth McFarland and Clint Eastwood. But many many more have taken this challenge as a matter of pride, ego or passion. Some actor directors, like Allen and Eastwood, do a fine job of it, and others are challenged by the difficulty of separating the important contributing roles of each.
This week, MovieZoot.com takes a look at four films where the director is actually the lead actor in various genres including Marlon Brando in the Western – One Eyed Jacks; Laurence Olivier in the romantic drama – The Prince and the Showgirl; David A. R. White in the romantic comedy – Holyman Undercover; and Jackie Chan in the Martial Arts comedy – The Fearless Hyena.
Watch the conflict and assess the performance successes yourself in this self-directed collection of classics consisting of a Western, a Drama, a Comedy and a Martial Arts film.
We bet you will be pleasantly entertained for hours!
One Eyed Jacks is the 1961 western drama directed by and starring Marlon Brando along with co-stars Karl Malden, Slim Pickens, Katy Jurado and Ben Johnson. After pulling a bank heist in Mexico, the outlaw Rio (Brando) and his partner, Dad Longworth (Malden), make a run for it, but Dad has bigger plans than freedom. He betrays Rio and absconds with the loot, and Rio ends up in prison. Years pass before Rio finally breaks free to enact his long-plotted revenge. Tracking Dad to California, Rio learns he’s become a sheriff — which is no deterrent — but when Rio falls for Dad’s stepdaughter, he has second thoughts. Interestingly, director Brando walked off this — his only cinematic directorial effort – after shooting over 7 hours of film, which was later shortened to just 141 minutes by Paramount Pictures for its release.
The Prince and The Showgirl is the 1957 romantic comedy directed by and co-starring Laurence Olivier with Marilyn Monroe, Richard Wattis, Dame Sybil Thorndike, Jean Kent, Jeremy Spenser and David Horne. Set in London in 1911, it tells the tale of a dignified prince in London on Royal business who falls in love with a traveling showgirl and their whirlwind courtship that follows during the pompous Royal festivities. With their diverse backgrounds, can they make it work? Love always wins!
Holyman Undercover is a 2010 Comedy written, directed and staring David A. R. White as an Amish man with deep conviction who comes to Hollywood to be a missionary, but gets cast as Satan on a nighttime soap opera. Our hero meets the girl of his dreams and as he pursues her love, his dream quickly vanishes when scheming networks, a powerful producer and a temperamental co-star turn his life into the world’s worst reality show. Oh, the irony (and comedy) of it all!
The Fearless Hyena is the 1979 Hong Kong kung fu Martial Arts comedy drama film directed by and starring Jackie Chan. It tells the story of a slackard and inattentive young martial arts heir who soon finds that he needs to pay attention to people’s motives as he struggles to avenge his grandfather’s murder with new fighting secrets learned from no other than The Unicorn. Chan shines in this his first actor/director role given complete creative freedom.