This is a fascinating question for me, and for any cinephile I feel, because it brings up the elusive question of “What are the essentials?”
My response was, and is, one that I think is not only apropos, but one I think a lot of people can use. Now, a reminder this is not a piece that aims to be a starter kit by cherry-picking milestones in film history, but rather one that will augment your collection when you think to yourself: “Well, what should I be getting now?”
My proposition is simple and personal, we all have our favorite directors throughout the various eras of cinema. I suggest getting the oft-overlooked works of these greats. More often than not these are the films I’ll point out as being a personal favorite.
Anyone, and everyone, can, and has, write, speak or opine on the greatness of Jules and Jim or The 400 Blows, but the film of Truffaut’s that affected me most was The Green Room (aka The Vanishing Fiancee), and its absence from DVD for so long bothered me. Hitchcock would be another good example. Everyone knows the widely recognized masterpieces he made. However, few of his films ever engaged me on first viewing like Rope did, even though he wasn’t too fond of his no-cut experiment, or for that matter Dial M for Murder, though I’ve never seen it in 3D.
Those are just two quick examples with a few films to illustrate my point. Who the directors are that you seek out the oft overlooked works in their ouevre is your choice entirely, but when one has the staples you’re filling in the pages, and, I for one have always been one to seek things out that are a little off the beaten path even amongst the most highly regarded cineastes.