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WILD BILL: HOLLYWOOD MAVERICK

USA, 1996 (MIFF 1996, Documenta)

Director: Todd Robinson

William A Wellman was a notorious, hard-drinking Tinseltown toughguy A consumate journeyman director whose life story could rival any Hollywood fiction. A high school drop out, juvenile delinquent, ice hockey star, French Foreign Legionnaire and WWI pilot, all before rising from the Goldwyn Studios mailroom to direct Wings (1928), the first recipient of a 'Best Film' Oscar.

Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick is an exhaustive look at the man and his movies Wellman made seventy-six films in thirty-five years. He survived and thrived in the transition from the silent era to sound-refusing to be constrained by the new yet cumbersome technology. Wellman suggested the microphone be mounted on a pole so he could keep a tracking shot, thereby effectively inventing the boom mike! He never lost his legendary distaste for authority, literally coming to blows with Darryl F Zanuck. He made some of the most entertaining, technologically innovative and memorable works of Hollywood's Golden Age including Call of the Wild, Nothing Sacred,The Public Enemy, A Star Is Born, Beau Cest and The Oxbow Incident

Intimate, often outrageous anecdotal tales from a slew of contemporaries (Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Robert Wise, Jane Wyman, Howard Koch, Nancy Regan) and the insights of admirers (Clint Eastwood. Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese etc) combine with a carefully considered examination of Wellman's cinematic style (a visual cornucopia of film extracts make you yearn for more) to create a fascinating portrait of a man, his times and his talent (AH)

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