By Anna

Stewart—Hitchcock, DeNiro—Scorsese, Depp—Burton, and Wilson—Anderson. It’s a common trend for actors and directors to continually work together, whatever the rhyme or reason is for it is irrelevant, because it works. Nine out of ten times the best films are connected by their consistency in actor—director relationship.

In 1973, director Martin Scorsese teamed up with Robert DeNiro to make Mean Streets. They worked together again in 1976’s Taxi Driver, 1980’s Raging Bull, number four on American Film Institute’s “Top 100 Films of All Time,” and then, not 10 years later, they did it again with Goodfellas, indisputably one of the best films of all time.

This theme repeats itself again and again with directors and actors, and the best explanation I have for it is that it’s the only way to make great films because all the greats did it in the past. Though that explanation isn’t entire conclusive, it does ring true for most cinema duos because it gets the audience talking, brings a level of honesty and understanding behind and in front of the camera, and defines a generation.

Jimmy Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock made four films together from 1948 to 1958, DeNiro and Scorsese eight films from 1973 to 1995, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton six from 1990 to 2007, and Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson have made five from 1996 to 2009. Scorsese’s met his match again with Leonardo DiCaprio in this new millennium with four films under their belts and a fifth on the way.

An audience is captivated by this because it means Hollywood has more than cheap tricks up its sleeve, but actual development of relationships. But somewhere along the way it starts to feel like one can’t do it without the other, which isn’t entirely true, but the audience doesn’t want to see a break in that relationship because something inside us breaks too. We believe in the magic of the moving pictures, and part of that magic is real if the same actors keep sticking with the same directors and vice versa. If Johnny Depp’s going to stick with Tim Burton for the seventh time then I will too, even if it’s a blood-curdling musical with little cinematic prestige. It’s this rhythm directors give us that we cling to because we know it’s something genuine, genuine stories and genuine characters.

Though I’ve seen all the Stewart—Hitchcock combos and am just getting into the DeNiro—Scorsese ones, it’s the Wilson—Anderson flicks I’m most into now because they’re bringing more than a sure fire genre film to the audience, they’re coming from a friendship that was real long before their first film, and to a place only my generation will probably understand. Each of Wilson’s characters had a life before the film started and continue to live on after the film’s end. Only is this possible through a mutual understanding developed over years of cooperation and friendship between the actor and director.

Although these friendships or courtships have been going on from D.W. Griffith days, they mean something more now. No longer are the actors and directors defined by the genre that best fits them, but they come together with an aspiration to make something perfect through patience in this information saturated generation. The actor-director duo has more importance today than ever before.

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