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DVD Review: 'Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick' on the Life of William Wellman a Welcome Bio-Doc (Clips)

10 June 2013 11:00 AM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

Kino Lorber’s upcoming DVD release of “Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick,” about the life of director William Wellman, is welcome for a couple of reasons. One: In the Great Filmography of American cinema, Wellman, much like Howard Hawks, is a bit like Zelig. He’s everywhere. He made perhaps The archetypal gangster picture, “Public Enemy” (1931), which not only introduced James Cagney to the screen but planted the concept of the anti-hero in a war- and Depression-weary American psyche. He made the ur-screwball comedy “Nothing Sacred” (1937) with Carole Lombard and Frederic March; he made the highly idealistic Foreign Legion adventure “Beau Geste” (1939 version). He twisted the western into politically volatile morality play with “The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943). He directed Barbara Stanwyck five times including in “Lady in Burlesque” (1943) and he made what many consider the definitive World War II film, “The Story of G.I. Joe.” Oh yeah: He won a screenplay Oscar for writing. »

- John Anderson

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