11 great movie partnerships

As Burton and Depp reunite again, we look at top film hook-ups

Depp and Burton on the red carpet in 2010
Depp and Burton on the red carpet in 2010
Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows
The 400 Blows (1959)
The 400 Blows (1959)
The Apartment (1960)
The Apartment (1960)
Manhattan (1979)
Manhattan (1979)
Raging Bull (1980)
Raging Bull (1980)
Fitzcarraldo (1982)
Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Filmmaking is all about teamwork. As much as fans enjoy the idea of the auteur director, in masterful control of every shot, edit, facial grimace and special effect, in reality most cinematic triumphs are down to the hard work of hundreds of cast and crew members – a director can only work with what he’s given.

No relationship is more important than that of director and star. A good director knows how to get the best from his leading man or lady, and any actor needs an understanding eye behind the lens to capture and nurture their greatest work. Throughout cinema’s history there have been relationships where an actor and director are matched in talent and passion, returning to one another to produce their best work. One such pairing is Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, whose seventh collaboration, Dark Shadows, lands in the UAE this week.

It began more than 20 years ago with the seminal Edward Scissorhands (1990). Depp’s breakout performance as the film’s eponymous lead, a boy with scissors for hands, established the actor on the world stage. Since then Depp has tackled a miscellany of madcap roles across Burton’s eclectic oeuvre; an unsuccessful film director in Ed Wood (1994), an investigator in gothic whodunit Sleepy Hollow (1999), Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and the voice of a shy groom in animation Corpse Bride (2005).

The relationship hit a critical peak in 2007 when Depp picked up a Golden Globe for his portrayal of sinister Victorian barber Sweeney Todd, before playing the Mad Hatter in Burton’s wacky Alice in Wonderland (2010). Depp’s turn as an imprisoned vampire in Dark Shadows is just the latest chapter in an ongoing story. So to celebrate the pair’s fruitful union, we look back on some other classic cinematic partnerships.

François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud
Number of films: seven.
Must see: The 400 Blows (1959).
Léaud was just 14 years old when he starred in Truffaut’s debut masterpiece The 400 Blows, later going on to reprise the director’s autobiographical invention Antoine Doinel in four more films spread over 20 years. Interestingly, Léaud worked with fellow French New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard even more frequently, clocking nine films together.

Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder
Number of films: seven.
Must see: The Apartment (1960).
In the golden era of Hollywood, Wilder and Lemmon worked together to define comedy on film as we know it. Their relationship reached a crescendo with 1959’s Marilyn Monroe showcase Some Like it Hot and 1960’s five-time Oscar winner The Apartment.

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton
Number of films: eight.
Must see: Manhattan (1979).
Erratic Allen has a penchant for leading ladies: he shot five films with Diane West (see Hannah and her Sister); three with Scarlett Johansson (Match Point); and an incredible 13 with ex-lover Mia Farrow (Husbands and Wives). But it’s the actor-director’s on-screen chemistry with Keaton in Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) for which they will both be best remembered.

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro
Number of films: nine.
Must see: Raging Bull (1980).
From the street-talking Johnny Boy of Mean Streets (1973) to the psychopath of Taxi Driver (1975) and the washed-up boxer of Raging Bull (1980), Scorsese’s trust in his leading man’s improvisational instincts contributed to several movie classics.

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski
Number of films: five.
Must see: Fitzcarraldo (1982).
Herzog once pointed a gun at his leading man, and Kinski’s autobiography was laden with insults directed at Herzog (which it later emerged the director helped to pen). The pair spent hours screaming at one another, yet all that rage created cinematic masterpieces.
All films available to buy at Virgin Megastores or from www.amazon.com.

Five more incredible cinematic pairings

Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart
Number of films: four.
Must see: Vertigo.

Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune
Number of films: 16.
Must see: Seven Samurai.

Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando
Number of films: three.
Must see: On The Waterfront.

Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni
Number of films: six.
Must see: The Dolce Vita.

Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood
Number of films: three.
Must see: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

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