Wild Bill Wellman

Wild Bill Wellman

Hollywood Rebel

Screen Classics

by William Wellman Jr.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

658 Pages, 6.13 x 9.25 in, 202 b&w photos

  • Paperback
  • 9780813180939
  • Published: February 2021



The renowned director William "Wild Bill" Wellman (1896--1975) has never gotten his proper due. Among his most iconic films are the pioneering World War I epic Wings (1927, winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture), Public Enemy (1931), the original A Star Is Born (1937), The Call of the Wild (1935), Beau Geste (1939), The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), Yellow Sky (1948), and The High and the Mighty (1954). David O. Selznick called him "one of the motion pictures' greatest craftsmen," and Robert Redford described him as "feisty, independent, self-taught, and self-made. He stood his ground and fought his battles for artistic integrity, never wavering, always clear in his film sense."

Drawing on his father's unpublished letters, diaries, and unfinished memoir, William Wellman, Jr. presents a boisterous portrait of the handsome, tough-talking, hard-drinking, uncompromising maverick. Wellman emerges as a juvenile delinquent, a professional ice-hockey player, and a World War I flying ace in the Lafayette Escadrille. As a highly decorated pilot, he fought the enemy. As an in-demand director, he fought producers and the great studio moguls -- some with his fists -- for the right to make his films his way. His passionate and roguish personality comes vividly to life in his son's hands. Wild Bill Wellman offers an unprecedented look at a man who directed "like a general trying to break out of a beachhead" and explores his years working with stars including Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, and Clint Eastwood. Full of humorous anecdotes and behind-the-scenes insights from the Golden Age, this riveting biography sheds new light on the life and legacy of a true Hollywood legend.