Just a brief round-up as I take a break from obsessing over William A Wellman’s early work to catch up with writing about some other movies. I thought I’d recap on the films I’ve written about so far, and share news of a forthcoming Wellman biography. Many thanks to all those who have read along and commented – much appreciated.
Film historian Frank Thompson, who did the commentary on the DVD of Wild Boys of the Road, kindly left a message on my first posting about Wellman, where he said: “You may be interested to know that John Andrew Gallagher (a fine director in his own right) and I have just completed a book on Wellman that we intend as the final word on the subject. It’s almost insanely thorough. The book is currently being shopped around to publishers, so no word as to when it will actually be published. But when it is, you’ll probably need a friend to help you lift it.”
I’m definitely looking forward to more news on this and will post on my blog when I know more!
As regards my own coverage of Wellman, I’ve now written here about 16 of his silents and pre-Code talkies - putting them in order of their release dates, those I’ve covered to date are: The Boob (1926); Wings (1927); Beggars of Life (1928); Other Men’s Women (1931); The Public Enemy (1931); Night Nurse (1931); The Star Witness (1931); Safe In Hell (1931); The Hatchet Man (1932); So Big! (1932); The Purchase Price (1932); Frisco Jenny (1932); Lilly Turner (1933); Heroes For Sale (1933); Midnight Mary (1933) and Wild Boys of the Road (1933).
I was going to try to list my favourites out of these but it is really difficult as I like just about all of them - however, I’d say all six titles included in the Wellman Forbidden Hollywood set are well worth seeing, while Wings and Beggars of Life are both silent masterpieces which deserve a full DVD release. And The Public Enemy just seems to get better every time I watch it. My favourites out of the talkies not on DVD are Lilly Turner and Safe In Hell. For me The Hatchet Man and The Star Witness are probably the weakest in this bunch, but still interesting and with some powerful scenes.
Wellman was incredibly prolific in the early 1930s and, even after watching this lot, there are still a lot of his pre-Code titles I haven’t seen – some seem to have disappeared from view, but there are a few I’m still aiming to see and write about in the future. Central Airport (1933) has just been released in the Warner Archive series and Love Is A Racket (1932) has just been shown at the Film Forum in New York as part of their series on newspapers. If anyone has seen these or any other rarities, I’d be interested to hear what you think of them. I also want to write about some of his later films in the future, and there are plenty of those to choose from, of course!