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William Wellman
1896 - 1975 
Born February 29, Brookline, Massachusetts, USA
Key Production Country: USA 
Key Genres: Drama, Western, Adventure, Crime, Action, Combat Films, War, Adventure Drama, Crime Drama
Key Collaborators: Cedric Gibbons (Production Designer), Andy Devine (Leading Character Player), Alfred Newman (Composer), James Basevi (Production Designer), Adolphe Menjou (Leading Player), Dore Schary (Producer), Robert Fellows (Producer), Joan Blondell (Leading Character Player), William Mellor (Cinematographer), John Dunning (Editor)

Highly Recommended: The Public Enemy (1931)
Recommended: Beggars of Life (1928), Other Men's Women (1931), Heroes for Sale (1933), Midnight Mary (1933), A Star is Born (1937), Beau Geste (1939), The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), Magic Town (1947), Yellow Sky (1948), Battleground (1949), Track of the Cat (1954)
Worth a Look: Wings (1927), Night Nurse (1931), Safe in Hell (1931), Wild Boys of the Road (1933), Nothing Sacred (1937), Roxie Hart (1942), The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), Across the Wide Missouri (1951), Westward the Women (1951), The High and the Mighty (1954)
Approach with Caution: Small Town Girl (1936), Buffalo Bill (1944), The Iron Curtain (1948), The Next Voice You Hear (1950), Island in the Sky (1953)

Links: [ Amazon ] [ IMDB ] [ TCMDB ] [ All-Movie Guide ] [ Film Reference ] [ Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick ] [ The Wild Man of Hollywood ] [ Wikipedia ] [ Cinema-Scope Article (2007) ]
Books: [ William A. Wellman (Filmmakers, No 4) ] [ The Man and His Wings: William A. Wellman and the Making of the First Best Picture
The Public Enemy (1931)A Star is Born (1937)Beau Geste (1939)Battleground (1949)
  "Although William Wellman's name is most often associated with action pictures, gaining him a reputation for working mainly with men, he brought his expertise to bear on a range of genres in the best Hollywood manner. Wellman earned the nickname "Wild Bill" for his impatience with actors, his devil-may-care personality, and his spell as a pilot in World War I." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)  
  "Wellman was an efficient, erratic journeyman, as good as his material. Though praised for his handling of vigorous masculine action in war movies (Wings, The Story of GI Joe), thrillers (The Public Enemy), westerns and outdoor adventures (Beggars of Life, Wild Boys of the Road), he was at his best with dark satire and melodrama, where his cynicism about modern mores enhanced sparkling scripts by Dorothy Parker (A Star is Born), Ben Hecht (Nothing Sacred), and Nunnally Johnson (Roxie Hart)." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)  
  "With Wellman, crudity is too often mistaken for sincerity. What is at issue here is not the large number of bad films he has made, but a fundamental deficiency in his direction of good projects. On parallel subjects, he runs a poorer second to good directors than he should... Wellman, like Wyler, Huston, and Zinnemann, is a recessive director, one whose images tend to recede from the foreground to the background in the absence of s strong point of view." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)  
  "Expressing themes of courage, loyalty, and rugged individualism in a stark, semirealist style was the essence of Wellman's career. He lensed classic crime dramas, Westerns, war films, social explorations, and comedies with the same hard, sentimental simplicity." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)  
Please note that the rating given for this director (see top-right) is based only on the films we have seen (listed above). Films by this director that we haven't seen include The Boob (1926), Chinatown Nights (1929), Dangerous Paradise (1930), Maybe It's Love (1930), Star Witness (1931), The Conquerors (1932), The Hatchet Man (1932), Love is a Racket (1932), The Purchase Price (1932), So Big! (1932), Central Airport (1933), College Coach (1933), Frisco Jenny (1933), Lilly Turner (1933), Stingaree (1934), The Call of the Wild (1935), The Robin Hood of El Dorado (1936), Men with Wings (1938), The Light That Failed (1939), Reaching for the Sun (1941), The Great Man's Lady (1942), Thunder Birds (1942), Lady of Burlesque (1943), This Man's Navy (1945), Gallant Journey (1946), The Happy Years (1950), My Man and I (1952), Blood Alley (1955), Good-bye, My Lady (1956), Darby's Rangers (1958) and Lafayette Escadrille (1958).

"William Wellman’s critical reputation is in many respects still in a state of flux long after re-evaluations and recent screenings of his major films should have established some consensus of opinion regarding his place in the pantheon of film directors. While there is some tentative agreement that he is, if nothing else, a competent journeyman director capable of producing entertaining male-dominated action films, other opinions reflect a wide range of artistic evaluations, ranging from comparisons to D.W. Griffith to outright condemnations of his films as clumsy and uninspired. His own preferred niche, as indicated by his flamboyant personality and his predilection for browbeating and intimidating his performers, would probably be in the same general class as highly masculine filmmakers like Howard Hawks, John Ford, and Raoul Walsh." - Stephen L. Hanson, International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers

Top 250 Directors
Less Than Meets the Eye
Jean-Pierre Melville's 64 Favourite Pre-War American Filmmakers (Cahiers du Cinema, October 1961)
501 Movie Directors: A Comprehensive Guide to the Greatest Filmmakers
See Also
Jack Conway
Michael Curtiz
Edward Dmytryk
John Ford
Henry Hathaway
Howard Hawks
John Huston
Henry King
Mervyn LeRoy
Lewis Milestone
King Vidor
Raoul Walsh


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