Previously Played

"Film Forum's series demonstrates pretty conclusively that Wellman had the right stuff... He had a touch of the poet, which you see whenever the people in his movies begin to stir from their rest into motion, or even, as you sometimes sense, into a dream of motion, the feeling that there’s room for them to move in. Wellman, who contained multitudes, gave them that room, because he knew there was plenty for everybody, on earth and above."
– Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times
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"You might as well pitch a tent at Film Forum for its 42 films by William Wellman... You get racy pulp (the stunningly tawdry Night Nurse), brassy screwball comedy (Nothing Sacred), and female-centric melodramas like Roxie Hart and the rare Louise Brooks Beggars of Life. Even his most 'manly' films had a streak of sensitivity."
– David Edelstein, New York magazine

“Wellman's incredible career is ripe for reevaluation... He was as experimental as Scorsese, as audacious as Tarantino, as sentimental as Spielberg – but he was eternally, irrevocably, himself.”
– John Andrew Gallagher & Frank Thompson

"Giving three weeks to a 42-film retrospective of William 'Wild Bill' Wellman's films isn't no-brainer programming. It's a statement of faith in a name that's never quite hit instant-recognition—a chance to re-evaluate a transient talent whose reputation has never settled down into place."
– Nick Pinkerton, Moving Image Source
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WILLIAM “WILD BILL” WELLMAN (1896-1975) earned his nickname, enlisting in the Lafayette Flying Corps before America entered the Great War, directing the first-ever Best Picture Oscar-winner, becoming Hollywood’s greatest specialist in aerial adventure, and renowned as well for a quick temper and occasional fisticuffs. But beyond the tough guy and action classics, he helmed some of the greatest of screwball comedies, among works in virtually every other genre; guided signature performances by Barbara Stanwyck, Louise Brooks, Loretta Young, Ginger Rogers, et al.; sensitively portrayed Norman Maine’s disintegration in A Star is Born; directed Cooper, Cagney and Gable in star-defining roles; and in his Pre-Code collaborations with producer Darryl Zanuck at Warner Bros., was the key director of one of the American cinema’s greatest periods.



Special thanks to Andrea Kalas, Judy Nicaud, Brenda Ciccone (Paramount), Mike Mashon, Rob Stone (Library of Congress), Paul Ginsburg, Bob O’Neil (Universal Pictures), Brian Block (Criterion Pictures), Caitlin Robertson (Twentieth Century Fox), Marilee Womack (Warner Bros.), Grover Crisp, Katie Fry (Sony), Daniel Bish (George Eastman House), Todd Wiener, Steven Hill, (UCLA Film & Television Archive), May Haduong (Academy Film Archive), Mark McElhatten, Gina Telaroli (Sikelia), Mary Tallungan (Disney), Charles Tabesh, Dennis Millay (TCM), Gretchen Wayne, Sue Jameson (Batjac Productions, Inc.), Larry Stern (Video-Cinema Films, Inc.), Michael  Schlesinger, Martin Scorsese, and Jake Perlin.

A very special thanks to WILLIAM WELLMAN, Jr.
and to Wellman authorities JOHN ANDREW GALLAGHER and FRANK THOMPSON