21. Fritz Lang (1890 – 1976)
Though he backed out as the director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,his work on the script and subsequent directorial efforts bear the imprint of a pioneer in the world of German expressionism.
Lang was able to make the leap from silent films to talkies unharmed, and further managed to shape the history of film in two countries—in Lang’s case, Germany and America.
Long before the term was coined, Lang was making some of the greatest film noirs ever to exist, including The Blue Gardenia (1953), Human Desire (1954) and While the City Sleeps(1956). Interest in Lang’s work further increased when his landmark sci-fi film, Metropolis, was re-released in the 1980s—this time pitted against a contemporary rock soundtrack. Even without the aid of dialogue, Lang preferred to tell stories on a grand scale—epic fantasies and horrific legends—and did so easily within the limitations of the technology. He was resourceful and ahead of his time.