Welles, Orson: Unlike many of his contemporaries, Welles gained international prominence on the basis of only one film, Citizen Kane (1941). The film is full of technical innovations, including crane shots, overlapping dialogue, multiple audio tracks, purposely grainy film stock, and low-angle photography. It explores themes that Welles would revisit throughout his career: the corruption of power and wealth, the fine line between desire and obsession, the precariousness of knowledge, and the limits of ego and ambition. Wellesâ€™s use of deep focus, long takes, and chiaroscuro lighting, which located meaning in mise-en-scÃ¨ne rather than editing, influenced a generation of filmmakers working in the postwar film noir and realist styles. Though rejected by audiences and undermined by studio executives throughout his career, Welles still managed to make several more highly acclaimed films, including The Lady from Shanghai (1948) and Touch of Evil (1958).
Hitchcock, Alfred: In a career spanning half a century, Hitchcock won success in both his native Britain and Hollywood and directed some of the most memorable films of all time, including The 39 Steps (1935), Vertigo (1958), and North by Northwest (1959). Influenced by German expressionism (he was an assistant to F. W. Murnau at Ufa) and Soviet montage, Hitchcock used detailed visual and aural compositions to express his protagonistsâ€™ feelings of paranoia and claustrophobia, along with sophisticated editing to create suspense. With a fine-tuned sense of irony, Hitchcock examined the abnormal perversions and obsessive desires lurking beneath the surface of ordinary lives and societies, enabling him to become an astute observer of America in the 1950s, the decade during which he directed his greatest films.