As a medium, film is not much more than 100 years old. But you’ll be hard pressed to find any director who’s produced better films with the diversity of style and genre than Steven Spielberg.
He’s created brilliant films using adventure (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark), SciFi (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), fantasy (E.T.), literary drama (The Color Purple), and war (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List). If he has a weakness, it’s comedy, but with a filmography like this we can forgive 1941. Barely. That doesn’t even include his 113 producing credits, which include such great films as Back to the Future, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Letters from Iwo Jima.
Even a prodigious talent such as Spielberg has to start somewhere, and for directors, that often means television. He cut his teeth directing episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D. and Columbo before getting the go-ahead to make The Sugarland Express, his first major film.
He applied three times to the prestigious USC School of Theater, Film, and Television, and was turned down each time. That’s as bad as the high school basketball coach who cut Michael Jordan from the team. Now Spielberg is wealthy enough to buy and sell USC. Well, almost.
As you’d expect, Spielberg probably needs another house just to hold his awards. He’s won Oscars for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. The American Film Institute gave him its Life Achievement Award. He’s been honored by the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, and will no doubt receive more lifetime awards for his achievements.
Here’s a great scene from Jaws, featuring the inimitable Robert Shaw: