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Poll

What's your favorite film by William A. Wellman?

Wings
0 (0%)
Beggars of Life
0 (0%)
Other Men's Women
0 (0%)
The Public Enemy
1 (5%)
Night Nurse
0 (0%)
So Big!
0 (0%)
The Purchase Price
0 (0%)
Heroes for Sale
0 (0%)
Midnight Mary
0 (0%)
Wild Boys of the Road
1 (5%)
Female
0 (0%)
Viva Villa!
0 (0%)
The Call of the Wild
0 (0%)
Small Town Girl
0 (0%)
A Star Is Born (1937)
1 (5%)
Nothing Sacred
0 (0%)
Beau Geste
0 (0%)
Roxie Hart
0 (0%)
Lady of Burlesque
0 (0%)
The Ox-Bow Incident
8 (40%)
Buffalo Bill
0 (0%)
Story of G.I. Joe
1 (5%)
Magic Town
0 (0%)
Yellow Sky
0 (0%)
Battleground
0 (0%)
The Next Voice You Hear...
0 (0%)
The Happy Years
0 (0%)
Across the Wide Missouri
0 (0%)
Westward the Women
0 (0%)
Island in the Sky
0 (0%)
The High and the Mighty
0 (0%)
Track of the Cat
0 (0%)
Blood Alley
0 (0%)
Darby's Rangers
0 (0%)
other (please specify)
0 (0%)
haven't seen any
8 (40%)
don't like any
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 19

Author Topic: Wellman, William A.  (Read 5026 times)

1SO

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #30 on: February 02, 2019, 10:08:55 PM »

College Coach (1938)
★ ★ ½
It's like Wellman filmed the parts of this routine football film that interested him and zipped past the rest. To make up for it, Warner Bros stacked the cast high and wide. (Four of the people above usually headline their own star vehicles.) The Supporting Cast is so full of familiar faces there's even room for John Wayne AND Ward Bond.


1SO

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2019, 01:24:41 AM »
It seems Wellman is a master of train scenes.

I've watched Wild Boys of the Road and Beggars of Life and there's an excitement to the scenes on trains I'd only seen in one other film. That was Other Men's Women, which I watched for James Cagney and Mary Astor, and was also directed by Wellman.

1SO

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2019, 10:09:55 PM »
Beggars of Life (1928)
★ ★ ★ – Good
Wonderful kickoff with Wellman. Tale of a hobo and a murderess on the run has a story that nicely balances intimate character scenes with big, tough set-pieces set in homeless camps and around trains. Major credit to Wellman for trusting the action wouldn’t drown out the portrait of people with their backs against the wall.


Safe in Hell (1931)
★ ★ ½
Another woman on the run, this time a prostitute who’s killed the man that brought her to this fate. Seemed so scandalous for 1931 and Wellman literally turns up the fire in the opening scenes, but the Hell – an island in the Caribbean – doesn’t work in any realistic way. It is a Hell, with the island’s only white woman rejecting a constant bombardment of men, but what is the subtext or is it just that men are terrible to women? Seems that could’ve been handled in some less obvious ways.


Heroes For Sale (1933)
★ ★ ★ – Good
I was blindsided by how much ground this covers in very little time. Rushing from war to drug addiction to all manner of social concerns, it’s so packed with topics that there isn’t time for any to really hit hard. Still, Wellman’s barrage creates a frenzied mosaic of a country struggling to get back on its feet. There isn’t enough Loretta Young, but that’s because there’s a lot of Aline MacMahon, who’s never let me down.


Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
★ ★ ★ – Very Good
The growth from Wings (1927) to The Public Enemy (1931) to this is amazing. Wellman is making his fellow directors of the time look like a bunch of hacks. This is another episodic tale of hard times during the depression, but the leads remain central, not the story. Some scenes are so tough or vibrant or mature it’s like something I expect from a Scorsese today. It’s occasionally as Great as the dramas in my Essentials, but not consistent enough. The overly-happy ending is a kick in the shins to all that came before.

1SO

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #33 on: February 10, 2019, 12:13:00 AM »
Updated Rankings

One of my biggest Marathons, with 11 new watches. A combination of classic Hollywood star power and my being really impressed with some of Wellman's choices. This is one where I come out having a much higher opinion of the director, though I think his best work was in the 30s and early 40s.

Looking for Trouble (1934)
★ ★
I love Spencer Tracy, who can be a delight even in daffy stuff like this, which is way below his acting ability. If you're looking for a crime comedy about phone repairmen, go with Warner Bros. I've Got Your Number, starring Pat O'Brien, who's more at home with this material. I also wish Wellman wouldn't squander his time on these silly comedies.


Call of the Wild (1935)
★ ★
Caught between being a grand Hollywood adventure starring Clark Gable and a brutal portrait of early Alaska, which is tough on the people and merciless on the dogs that keep them alive. (I'm not kidding, if you have a soft spot for dogs, stay far away. It's a recurring theme.) Wellman never succeeds in bringing the two tones together, though there are some effective scenes.


The Iron Curtain (1948)
★ ★ ½
Based on a true story of a Russian spy (Dana Andrews) betrayed by his country and forced to defect to Canada with his wife (Gene Tierney) by turning on his comrades. Looks great, with deep shadows and menacing characters, but just because the story is true doesn't mean it's exciting. Andrews is stiffer than usual, but there's an actor named Berry Kroeger (Gun Crazy) doing a marvelously silky Orson Welles style performance.


Battleground (1949)
★ ★ ★ - Good
Going out on a high note, the beautiful-looking big war picture is given a hard punch to the face by Wellman, who manages to make it less heroic than the script (and probably studio) was aiming for. Instead of putting effort into getting the ensemble to gel as a unit Wellman lets each actor take turns being the star, which makes people like Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, John Hodiak and George Murphy come off as better actors than they usually are.  For his effort, the film received 6 Oscar nominations, including Best Director, winning two.

BlueVoid

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #34 on: May 01, 2019, 02:51:58 PM »
The Ox-Bow Incident
Westward the Women
The Public Enemy
A Star is Born

Wings

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1SO

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2019, 02:57:04 PM »
Westward the Women

Was this a new discovery for you too or did you know about this film already?

BlueVoid

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2019, 03:04:10 PM »
Was this a new discovery for you too or did you know about this film already?

New to me! I saw that Sandy watched it on Letterboxd, which she tells me you put it on her radar-- so thanks!
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Sandy

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2019, 06:19:55 PM »
New to me! I saw that Sandy watched it on Letterboxd, which she tells me you put it on her radar-- so thanks!

TRUE! :D

1SO

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Re: Wellman, William A.
« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2019, 10:21:04 PM »
Even though the numbers are smaller, Group Discoveries are still one of my favorite things about this Forum.