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Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick - The Life and Times of William A. Wellman

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

As a restless young man early in World War I, William A. Wellman joined the French Foreign Legion, and then became an ace American pilot with the famed Lafayette Escadrille. After being shot down and suffering grave injuries, the war hero returned to civilian life in Hollywood in the 1920s, soon becoming known as Wild Bill for his maverick perspective and two-fisted approach to directing. As the excellent documentary Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick details, Wellman's insistence on realistic filmmaking resulted in the still-breathtaking aerial choreography in his breakthrough film, 1927's Wings, the very first Best Picture Oscar Winner. His other films, especially war pictures such as The Story of G.I. Joe, Beau Geste, and Battleground, display equal parts authenticity, grit, and humanity. Wellman also broke out of war-picture confines to have huge success with films such as A Star Is Born (for which he won his only Oscar, for co-writing the script), the screwball comedy Nothing Sacred (both available on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Classics), and the meditative antilynching drama The Ox-Bow Incident. Wild Bill traces Wellman's extraordinary career, highlighted by interviews with such varied Wellman stars as Robert Mitchum, Buddy Rogers, Burgess Meredith, Clint Eastwood, and Nancy Davis Reagan. Fans of Hollywood history and film in general won't want to miss this fascinating portrait of a true iconoclast. NARRATED BY ALEC BALDWIN (NBC s ''30 Rock'', The Departed, The Hunt For Red October, Rock of Ages). First time ever on DVD!

Product Details

  • Actors: Alec Baldwin, James Cagney, Clint Eastwood, Nancy Reagan, James Garner
  • Directors: Todd Robinson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: June 25, 2013
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BUSYTLC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,811 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is an Okay documentary on the great William A Wellman, but a better one exits and was done by Turner Films as well....narrated by Sydney Pollack it features an extended interview with Mr Wellman himself for the whole hour!! That documentary part of The Men Who Made Films series is available on DVD along with this documentary as a bonus Disc on the DVD set Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume Three (Other Men's Women / The Purchase Price / Frisco Jenny / Midnight Mary / Heroes for Sale / Wild Boys of the Road) which contains about a half dozen films that Wellman also directed!! If you are a fan it is the best way to go and as I said includes this documentary along with what I think anybody would view as a superior one. The description that this is the first time this is available on DVD isn't the truth.
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Format: DVD
These days, as I have mentioned in the recent past, I’m getting immersed more and more into silent movies. I’m just fascinated by how all the filmmakers of the silent era developed the industry and how it evolved. So, it was a blessing to watch the wonderful “Wild Bill, Hollywood Maverick - the Life and Times of William A. Wellman.” And what a fabulous life it was, all fantastically documented in this delightful film.

Well-directed by Todd Robinson, the movie goes through Wellman’s life from beginning to end, starting with his birth on February 29, 1896, in Massachusetts, and how he spent his early years as a decorated fighter pilot during World War I. It was there that he got nicknamed Wild Bill. Some time later, famous actor Douglas Fairbanks, impressed by Wellman’s talents, got him an acting job in “The Knickerbocker Buckaroo,” but Bill realized that he did not liked acting. He then moved to being a mailman at the Goldwyn Studio, then assistant director, and, finally, director. After helming some silent films, Bill directed “Wings” (1927), which cost 2 million dollars to make, and was very successful. This movie established him in Hollywood, but, due to his temper and antipathy for the studio, he was banned to attend the premiere of the film, as well as the first academy award ceremony, in which “Wings” won the best picture Oscar. Despite his disdain for the studio system, Wellman directed some of the best movies in Hollywood history, such as “The Public Enemy” (1931), “A Star is Born” (1937), “Nothing Sacred” (1939), “Beau Geste” (1939), “The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943), and many more. He also made five films with John Wayne, and, in a 35- year career, his films received 32 academy award nominations – 4 for Best Picture and 3 for Best Director.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
One of cinema's "forgotten" mavericks, William A. Wellman gets loving treatment by Todd Robinson in this very good documentary about this fine director. Not necessarily a "great director", "Wild Bill" helmed some 76 films and many of them remain today as near-classics. Titles like "Wings", "The Public Enemy", "A Star is Born" (1937, the best version), "Nothing Sacred", "Beau Geste", "The Ox-Bow Incident", "The Story of G.I. Joe", "Battleground" deserve repeated viewings. Would like to see "Wild Boys of the Road" (1933) which co-starred his wife Dorothy Coonan. This looked like a little gem, so hopefully one day I will get the chance to see it. Found it interesting, discussion of certain aspects of Wellman"s directing style such as action happening out of camera range and faces being obscured during important dialog scenes. Lots of talking heads in this documentary but all interesting. Be aware that this is very complimentary (executive producer and creator was Bill Jr., who appearance wise is a spitting image of his dad) , so don't expect anything too negative about Wellman or his films. Mr. Wellman led a very colorful life and his early days growing up in Brookline, Mass., and his adventures with the Lafayette Escadrille in the First World War is also well documented. Read and enjoyed Wellman's autobiography "A Short Time For Insanity" back in 1974. Well worth hunting film book shops to get a copy. You won't be disappointed!
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This came as a surprise to me. I found out about this video by watching "NIGHT OF THE HUNTER" (the black & white movie Wild Bill shot for Warner Bros with Robert Mitchum, released in 1955) in 'cinemascope and color'. On the "Night" DVD, as a bonus, there were interviews with people that made the movie and knew of Wellman. His son Bill Wellman, Jr. described this video as having been assembled about his father's life. So I searched for it and found that it was available, and sent for it!
The visuals used in telling of his bio in film are wonderful to see. It is not a waste of time. The story of the making of "Lafayette Escadrille", with Tab Hunter, is ironic, in that he killed off all the 'love-making-stars' as the finale of the movie, only to have to bring everybody back together several months later, having to re-shoot the ending with everyone living happily-ever-after (according to Jack Warner's demand) that pissed off Welmann. Oh Hollywood endings!
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Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick - The Life and Times of William A. Wellman
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