In response to Kathy's call for suggestions about what film directors she
might study, I recommend George Stevens.  He began his career making
Laurel and Hardy shorts and ended with "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "The
Greatest Story Ever Told."  Actually, his very last movie was "The Only
Game in Town" in 1970.
Other suggestions are Jean Negulesco or Edward Dmytryk.  The latter wrote
a lengthy book called "On Filmmaking" that discusses his approach to
Mary Kalfatovic