Three weeks of Wild Bill

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.

Here’s the full lineup.

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