Program Details

Playing Favorites:  Classic Director/Actor Collaborations

Shelly Isaacs
Movies / History
Video Catch-up

Course Description

When film directors and actors collaborate numerous times, their partnerships become noteworthy. In Hollywood, John Ford and John Wayne, Hitchcock and Cary Grant and James Stewart, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, Scorsese and De Niro created memorable moments on screen. The same holds true for international cinema. In this session we’ll see four classic films that represent the best of director/actor collaborations.


  1. "Sanjuro", Japan: Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune did sixteen films together, many of them considered among their finest films. As Sanjuro, Mifune displays his talent for dark comedy as well as for athletic ability, as a samurai for hire who secretly cuts deals with two warring factions.
  2. "Hannah Arendt", Germany: Director Margarethe von Trotta teamed up with Barbara Sukowa in seven films. The film follows philosopher, journalist, and political theorist Hannah Arendt during her coverage of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem and its ensuing controversy.
  3. "Ju Dou", China:  Zhang Yimou, considered one of the world's finest directors, teamed with actress Gong Li in eight highly acclaimed and awarded films. Set in the early 20th century, the story concerns a woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China who conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without revealing his parentage in this circular tragedy.
  4. "Pain and Glory", Spain: Pedro Almodóbar and Antonio Banderas have made eight films, and this one, based loosely on the director’s life, reflects on the choices he's made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him.

About the Instructor

  • Shelly Isaacs, M.A. is founder and host for Café Cinematheque International, a foreign language film program presented in venues throughout South Florida. As a creative director/writer/producer and director in advertising, Isaacs specialized in promoting movies & entertainment. He earned a master's degree in media ecology studies from New York University, and taught graduate-level courses in cultural studies. In 2009 he launched Cinematheque at Sea, a film program available on luxury cruises throughout the world.