When Hitchcock mastered his 'psychosis' films, which predate Psycho by nearly six years, he really had hit his peak. Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train, Vertigo and Rear Window, they really showed someone who knew how to peel a grape. 'The Birds' and even 'North by Northwest' seemed to me a playful move back to entertainment, tho NbNw is among my favourites. Heck, no one ever talks about his early 40s thriller-boilers like Saboteur and Foreign Correspondent, two flicks that leave me with a great appreciation for his keen eye for pure fun.
John Ford may be not as famous today, but his story-telling style in The Searchers and Grapes of Wrath punches-out most modern-day 'auteurs' easily. He was more a simple, straight film-roller, but when he breaks free from his Hemingway-esque manner, delving into the head of John Wayne when we near the climax in Searchers -- how a tired, fired up hunt for revenge turns into quickly into salvation job of the noblest order, he demonstrated the touch of a poet.