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Collaborations at their best

Collaborations at their best — We run down the best actor/director combos, including Peter Sellers, Blake Edwards, Divine, and John Waters

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Like Adam and Eve, Bonnie and Clyde, and Beany and Cecil, frequent collaborators Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese are inextricably linked in the imagination. In the tradition of the screen teams below, their collaboration has allowed both star and director to create some of their finest work.

Lillian Gish/D.W. Griffith Her combination of fragility and toughness made Gish the perfect vessel for Griffith’s gothic melodramas. The pair made more than 35 films together in a 10-year period, including Way Down East and Broken Blossoms-but eventually split because of a salary dispute.

Marlene Dietrich/Josef von Sternberg He transformed the plumpish unknown into a chiaroscuro phantasm in seven films, including The Blue Angel, Dishonored, and Blonde Venus. When their collaboration ended, apparently because few of their films made money, Dietrich went on to become a legend, while Von Sternberg was released by Paramount to fend for himself.

John Wayne/John Ford Ford molded Wayne’s breakthrough performance in 1939’s Stagecoach, paving the way for a laconic Duke. The myth was minted in 13 more films, including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Quiet Man, and The Searchers. Yet despite his gratitude, Wayne bitterly claimed that Ford didn’t respect his acting.

Peter Sellers/Blake Edwards Sellers’ comic agility was choreographed by Edwards to slapstick perfection in five Inspector Clouseau films (including The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, and The Return of the Pink Panther), as well as in the 1968 farce The Party. ”He was quite mad,” Edwards said of the erratic genius. ”I’m sure he could have been certified.”

Divine/John Waters Who better to project Waters’ anarchic bad taste than a 300-pound transvestite? Starting with Roman Candles in 1966, the director and late actor were coconspirators in eight gross-out epics. For Pink Flamingos,Waters and the platinum bombshell devised a scene in which Divine eats real dog doo.

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