Going to be in NYC this month? Film Forum’s three-week William Wellman retrospective kicks off today.
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.
The festival kick off with weekend screenings of the first movie to win the “Best Picture” Oscar: WINGS (1927), starring Clara Bow, Richard Arlen, and Buddy Rogers.
In fact, it’s one of the greatest pictures ever made in Great Britain. Film critic Andrew Sarris wrote of the picture, “When I first saw the badly butchered American release version of Colonel Blimp more than 40 years ago, I never imagined I’d live to see the day when I would have the effrontery to write that I preferred it to Citizen Kane.”
We’d hate to have to choose between Blimp and Kane, but you get the point. Blimp is a must-see.
If you’re going to be in NYC anytime over the next thirteen weeks, be sure to set your Monday evenings aside for a special treat.
Every Monday evening through February 6, Film Forum, NYC’s terrific repertory theatre, is featuring an acclaimed silent movie from the MGM vaults. The festival opens tonight with the King Vidor classic The Crowd, to be followed by Ben-Hur, Greta Garbo in Flesh and the Devil, Lillian Gish in The Wind, and other not-to-be-missed classics.
If you’ve never seen a silent picture in a theatre with live musical accompaniment, well, take it from us—you’ve never seen a silent picture.