Solitary film masterpieces: 1 and done

This is inspired by the Largely lacklustre directors who’ve nonetheless made one or two gems thread. I was going to list a couple of people there, and I realized that they didn’t fit the criteria in the OP, because they haven’t been lackkluster at all. In fact, they been the exact opposite: a supernova, burning brightly for a time and then gone. For example,

James William Guercio directed the amazing Electra Glide In Blue. The film is a masterpiece, but Guercio not only never made another film, he wasn’t even interested in trying his hand at another. Heck, he didn’t even want to make a movie to begin with, but he was offered the opportunity and figured, heck, why not take it?

Shane Carruth wrote, directed, acted in, produced, edited, and scored his 2004 movie Primer, but as far as I know has no interest in making another film. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re missing out on one of the most intelligent sci-fi films ever, and quite probably the best film about time travel ever.

So, Dopers, who else made one arguably perfect movie and never tried again?

Electra Glide in Blue was the second one I thought of. The first was Night of the Hunter.

The 1955 version by Charles Laughton? But he was also an uncredited director for 1949’s The Man on the Eiffel Tower, so I don’t know if we can count him.

But the movie is truly a masterpiece, no doubt.

Jerome Robbins only directed one film – West Side Story, though that also had Robert Wise with him.

Walter Murch only credit was for Return to Oz, a dark sequel to the Wizard. A lot of people didn’t like the edginess, but I bet modern audiences would be more attuned to it. If you like a darker side of the story, this is a good one.

Saul Bass only directed one feature film (he did several other short subjects and also revolutionized the look of film title design): Phase Four, an understated masterpiece of SF horror that refuses to do what you might expect (especially at the end).

Great movie, totally under-appreciated.

This is the ant movie! Awesome flick! I think I was 8 the first time I saw it and I was scared shitless of antpiles for months! I had no idea it was the only film by this director. I remember it was very unconventional tho, from it’s story to the cinematography to the weird sound effects.

[li]Uncredited? So . . . in what capacity?[/li][li]I’ve never heard this. It’s certainly accepted as “canon” that Laughton only directed one film: Night of the Hunter.[/li][li]The only evidence I find of this is an unexplained credit in IMDB, not mentioned in the trivia section, and other references to this one entry.[/li][li]Narratives I find all say that Laughton threw his weight around to have the director replaced by Burgess Meredith. I find none that state Laughton himself directed.[/li][li]Dave Kehr (now with the NYTimes) in this newspaper: “Charles Laughton’s first and only film as a director (1955, 93 min.), and an enduring masterpiece.”[/LIST][/li]So, I guess until I see why that credit is included at IMDB but mentioned nowhere else, I’ll consider it that rarest of occurrences: an IMDB mistake.

I thought so too, but when I went and looked the film up at IMDB (I remember the TV movie version from when it aired and wasn’t sure if there were other versions), I saw the note about being an uncredited director, and the page for that movie also lists him (underneath Meredith) as an uncredited director.

Perhaps Laughton’s “direction” was limited to a few scenes worth of input, or perhaps it was just him directing the producers to hire Meredith; I really don’t know anymore about this than you do.

Hmm. Well, in that capacity, Edward Norton and other “difficult” actors should be credited–at least on IMDB–as “uncredited” directors. I’m not buying that unattributed claim, which goes against all evidence I can scare up, till I see some corroboration from another reliable source.

Again, I consider IMDB a reliable source, but they’re not infallible. Mistakes are rare, but they happen. This is one case I’ll keep an eyebrow raised on for now.

The Wiki entry on the movie says the same thing, but its one source is the IMDB entry. But the much longer entry on Laughton makes no mention of it. And every review I can scare up online makes a point of referring to NotH as Laughton’s only film. Save one, and I have an email in to the author of that article to find out their source. If it’s the IMDB, I’ll keep looking.

lissener, I’m not an IMDB Pro member, but I know there used to be contact info where you could email site admins about things like that. Did you ask IMDB for their cite?

No; they’re user-sourced, like Wiki only with gatekeepers. I figured I’d seek other evidence before I asked them. Otherwise I’d be challenging their info with just my own personal knowledge, and no “cite.” I’m just going into factchecker mode. When I worked as a factchecker the general rule was 2 cites to confirm, 3 to challenge.

Yep, that was always my rule too: 2 cites to confirm a notion, more than that to challenge it.

Wow, just a handful of examples of people who made 1 great film, then walked away from the industry. I guess I thought that after a hundred years of filmmaking, we’d have a slightly longer list.

Don’t know that I can add any, but I want to put in another plug for Primer. One of my favorites. Carruth made it for, like, $7,000 and wrote, directed, acted and composed the music for it, too, I believe.

I didn’t know he wasn’t working on other movies. I kinda held out hope…

I just did some searching and I found a couple of quotes from other people’s Twitter postings that Mr. Carruth is working on a new film project called A Topiary, but nothing from SC himself. IMDB doesn’t list anything as being “in production”, tho, and I haven’t seen anything else mentioning another project. And the last of those tweets is now almost a year ago, so you’d think that someone would have noticed if this project was actually moving forward.