Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick

Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick

By the time William A. Wellman was 36 years old, he had just as many films under his belt. He had also survived a war, four failed marriages, and some of the tougher aspects of the Hollywood studio system. Now, Kino Lorber has made his story widely available once again with the DVD release of “Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick.”

“Wild Bill” tells the story behind the man who created some incredible and truly iconic silent and sound films, through the anecdotes, experiences, and voices of some of the people who knew him best, his son William Jr. and his wife Dorothy. Also featured are interviews with names who’ve become icons in their own right, people like Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and James Garner. His life, from his terrifying injury during World War I, to his final days in the business, is detailed lovingly and respectfully.

William Wellman
William Wellman

The documentary, directed by Todd Robinson, was originally released in 1996. Because it was released 20 years after Wellman died, it, understandably, lacks stories and interviews from the man himself. If Robinson had been able to balance this out with more archival interview footage, somehow, the film would feel more complete, but as it is, the documentary is an incredible glimpse at one of Hollywood’s greatest, toughest directors.

To get a look at the man behind the camera, here’s an excerpt from Kevin Brownlow and David Gill’s incredible “Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film” featuring an interview from Wellman himself all about the making of “Wings” -- the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

You can purchase “Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick” on DVD here. If you're looking for more of William Wellman's work, you can watch the original version of "A Star is Born" and "Nothing Sacred" courtesy of Fandor.