That’s A Wrap On The William Wellman Blogathon!

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The William Wellman Blogathon is now at an end and what a four days it has been!  We had over forty entries posted celebrating the life and works of William A. Wellman!

I want to take a moment and say thank you!

Thank you to all the bloggers who signed up for, posted entries for, read posts for, and helped promote this blogathon!  I wasn’t sure what sort of response to expect and I couldn’t have asked for a better one!  Thanks to all of you!

Thank you to Fritzi over at Movies Silently for making the fabulous banners!  She is one of my blogging idols and a Photoshopping, gif making wiz!  She also was a great sounding board when I was considering this blogathon, as was Kristina of Speakeasy and Ruth of Silver Screenings.  Thanks ladies for your helpful hints!

Thank you to William Wellman Jr. not only for his support of this blogathon but also his fabulous biography that inspired it all!

Finally, thank you to William A. Wellman for a lifetime of amazing films and the attitude, courage, intelligence, and integrity to make them.

So, that’s all folks!  If you want to see all the great posts again the roster is here with updated links!  And let me know if you enjoyed this blogathon enough to do it again next year…

The William Wellman Blogathon Has Arrived!

At long last The William Wellman Blogathon is here!  Are you excited?  I know you are!

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Listed below is the complete roster of the blogs that have signed up to take part.  Keep checking back throughout the next few days (September 10-13th) as I will be updating the list with links to the various posts as they go live!  Enjoy the blogathon and thank you to everyone for coming together to celebrate a great American director, Mr. William A. Wellman!


Roster

Now Voyaging – Lady of Burlesque

Speakeasy – Yellow Sky

Movies Silently – The Boob

Silver Screenings – The Ox-Bow Incident

CineMaven – Safe in Hell and Beggars For Life

Shadows and Satin – Lilly Turner

Stardust – Wings

Old Hollywood Films – The Public Enemy

Sister Celluloid – Frisco Jenny

Criterion Blues – A Star Is Born (1937)

Once Upon A Screen – The Purchase Price

Silents And Talkies – Heroes For Sale

The Stop Button – Magic Town

A Shroud of Thoughts – Beau Geste

Twenty Four Frames – The Ox-Bow Incident

Immortal Ephemera – Wild Boys of the Road

Movie Movie Blog Blog – Nothing Sacred

The Motion Pictures – Bill, the Director and Barbara, the Star

That Classic Movie Life– The Call of the Wild

Critica Retro – Nothing Sacred

Caftan Woman – Goodbye, My Lady

Laura’s Misc Musings – Wild Boys of the Road

Moon In Gemini – Westward The Women

Second Sight Cinema – Safe In Hell

Portraits By Jenni – The Story Of GI Joe

Pre-Code.Com – College Coach

Girls Do Film – Other Men’s Women

Vitaphone Dreamer – A Star Is Born (1937)

The Movie Rat – Night Nurse

Comet Over Hollywood – Battleground

Movie Classics – Thunder Birds

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood – The Great Man’s Lady and Island In The Sky

Wide Screen World – So Big

Pop Culture Reverie – The Happy Years

Mike’s Take On The Movies – Island In The Sky

Back To Golden Days – The Iron Curtain

Barry Bradford – The Story of GI Joe

Noir Girl – Love Is A Racket

Serendipitous Anachronisms – Roxie Hart

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – Blood Alley

The Cinematic Frontier – Wings

Defiant Success – The Ox-Bow Incident

Nitrate Diva – Beggars of Life

Louise Brooks Society – Beggars of Life

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest – Roxie Hart

B Noir Detour – Lady of Burlesque

Mildred’s Fat Burgers – Track of the Cat

Cinema Dilettante – Midnight Mary

Losh-Man’s Hollywood Classics – Across The Wide Missouri

Spellbound By Movies – Maybe It’s Love

Grand Old Movies – The Next Voice You Hear


Thank you so much to all the bloggers who have come together to not only contribute fabulous posts celebrating William Wellman, but who also have made my very first blogathon a greater success than I could have imagined!

The William Wellman Blogathon: LADY OF BURLESQUE (1943)

This post is part of The William Wellman Blogathon hosted by me!  Be sure to check out the other entries here!

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Chances are that if you are a classic film fan you have at some point or another come across the Hayes Code.  Coming into strong effect in 1934, the Hayes Office and their code monitored and censored the subject matter of Hollywood films.  All blunt and open mentions of sex, drugs, and otherwise “less than desirable” behaviors were removed from films and writers, directors, and actors needed to find clever ways to insert their racy material.  Which leads me to LADY OF BURLESQUE, a film made at the height of the Production Code but one that still manages to keep its more mature material thanks to a burlesque tease of its own.

Dixie Daisy (Barbara Stanwyck) is the latest and greatest attraction at the Old Opera House on Broadway.  New owner S.B. Foss has changed the format of the opera house to that of a burlesque revue.  Dixie is the big draw for the crowds, wowing men and women alike with her singing and dancing.  She is also a big draw for comedian Biff Brannigan (Michael O’Shea) who ardently admires her, though she is somewhat less impressed with him.  Biff and Dixie are doing one of their best bits, all about a man who buys a woman-attracting charm in the form of a pickle on a string (infer at your leisure), when Dixie notices a squad of policeman filing into the back of the hall.  Backstage everyone is in a panic as the red light that is supposed to go off when police enter the building has been cut deliberately.  Pandemonium erupts as the police attempt to arrest everyone and Dixie makes her way toward the basement coal chute to hide.  On her way there however, she is grabbed around the throat.  She blacks out but her assailant is interrupted by a policewoman chasing a stage hand.  Dixie comes to but her attacker has vanished.

The entire company is packed off to jail where they are promptly bailed out by Foss.  At a group dinner later that night Foss tries to raise everyone’s spirits by giving each of them stock in the opera house.  Not everyone is mollified however, as Dixie points out that not only has her attacker vanished without a trace but that clearly someone is trying to shut down the opera house.  A few nights later ex-racketeer Louis Grindero comes by the burlesque show and finds his girlfriend Lolita, a stuck up songbird, rehearsing lines with one of the other comics who just so happens to be in love with her.  Louis takes out his displeasure on Lolita, beating her in front of everyone.  The screams from backstage can be heard onstage as well causing Dixie and Biff to ramp up the volume and antics of their performance.

Dixie comes off stage annoyed.  Lolita is already not a favorite among the other burlesque dancers.  Cocky and stuck-up, Lolita can’t seem to get along with anyone except the photograph of her mother she keeps on her vanity.  She has already had run-ins with Dixie, other dancers, and even Mr. Wong across the way.  The girls like to get their dinners from the local Chinese restaurant but Lolita decided it was a good idea to throw a bottle at the men standing by the open window, beaning Mr. Wong leading Dixie to go across to make peace and save their dinners.  The only person who is less liked than Lolita is the Princess Nirvena.  Recently returned from shady circumstances to once again thrill crowds with her act of clothes versus whip and her own version of a Greta Garbo impression, the Princess is someone not even Lolita can tolerate.  And now Lolita is fouling up Dixie’s act with her backstage drama.

Dixie goes upstairs to her dressing room expecting to find Lolita there.  Instead she finds some red wax on a closet door and no sign of the wounded songstress.  Lolita’s cue is coming up and Dixie calls down that she isn’t in her dressing room.  The stage manager comes upstairs to check just as Dixie pulls open the closet door and finds Lolita inside dead, strangled by her own G-string.  Yes, really.

LADY OF BURLESQUE was the first film made after the reopening of Hunt Stromberg’s independent movie studio.  Based on the book “The G-String Murders” by Gypsy Rose Lee, though thought to be ghost written by Craig Rice, this film was written by James Gunn and directed by none other than William A. Wellman.  Contrary to what you might think, Wellman was thrilled when offered the chance to direct by Stromberg.  He had never yet made a film that was a musical and was eager to showcase his range and ability.  Range and ability would be important because LADY OF BURLESQUE was part musical, part murder mystery, and part romantic comedy.

William Wellman offered the part of Dixie to his favorite actress, Barbara Stanwyck.  The two collaborated on five films together and both had great respect and affection for each other.  Wellman always spoke highly of Stanwyck’s talent and professionalism.  Of Stanwyck he would say, “…(She) not only knew her lines but everyone else’s…I love her.”  For her part, Barbara Stanwyck was equally excited as Wellman to play a character so completely different from any that she had done before.  She also was looking forward to showing that her talents extended to singing and dancing as well.  Watch her in this clip and you tell me, is there anything Barbara Stanwyck CAN’T do?

The censors, not surprisingly, were all over this film.  They were very specific about what camera angles could be used, what dialogue could be permitted, and how little clothes the strippers…ahem, I mean…dancers could have on.  Still, Wellman manages to slip quite a bit past the censors from the opening number of “Take It Off The E-String, Play It On The G-String” to Dixie’s bumping and grinding just below the frame.  The dialogue is pretty risqué as well with such lines as;

Man: Did I startle you?  /  Dixie: Are you – kidding?  I’ve been startled by experts.

Biff: When we get around to that date, you’ll have to wear your working clothes.  /  Dixie: I’ll wear a suit of armor, brass knuckles, and hobnailed boots!  And where’s that prop you swiped?  /  Biff: The muff?  I’m gonna have it stuffed and hang it over my mantlepiece.

And let’s not forget the pickle on a string.

LADY OF BURLESQUE was a huge hit and brought in $1.85 million, as well as earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Musical Scoring of a Drama or Comedy Picture.  A lesser known film today it is still great fun, a dark comedy celebrating a dead art form, as by 1942 burlesque had been driven from cities and towns alike by the soldiers of the Legion of Decency.  The movie has a little bit of everything, all filmed with the Wellman touch.  There is never a sense of judgment from Wellman in any of his films.  He simply tells the story that he would like to hear.  The women and other members of the burlesque company are just people going about their daily lives.  We are never given the feeling that we are any better or worse than they are, they just are.  The people who are nasty people are nasty because of who they are as a person, not because of what their job is.  Lolita would be an annoying prima donna even if she was a librarian and Louis would still be a jerk even if he was a respectable business man.  I feel that in another director’s hands there is a chance that the film would take on a feeling of moral high ground or even overly cartoonishness to diminish the impact.  Another director might be tempted to downplay the seriousness of the crimes simply because, well what do you expect when you live that sort of lifestyle?  Wellman and his film are refreshingly devoid of stereotypes, from the burlesque dancers to the Chinese cooks and waiters across the street.  Mr. Wong speaks English without a hint of an accent or incorrect grammar.

Part of what makes this film work is the feeling of enjoyment you get while watching it.  I know it sounds crazy to say that about a film where people are being murdered, but it is true.  Watching this film I felt like Wellman and Stanwyck were having fun, enjoying trying out something new and out of their comfort zones.  Is this the best film that William Wellman ever made?  No, and I doubt he would say it was either.  But I do feel that this is a film that deserves a second look.  LADY OF BURLESQUE showcases some of the best qualities of both Wellman and his favorite leading lady.  And if nothing else, you have a fine excuse to watch Barbara Stanwyck do the Boogie-Woogie.

The William Wellman Blogathon is Almost Here! Info for Participants and Those Who Want to Join…

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In just a little more than a week we will celebrate the life and works of William A. Wellman in The William Wellman Blogathon!  So many fabulous blogs have signed up and I can’t wait to see what everyone has in store!  Also check out this fabulous video intro that Cinemaven created!


For those who haven’t signed up yet…

There is still time to sign up in case you haven’t done so yet and would like to join in the fun!  The announcement post with updated roster can be found here.  Duplicate subjects are acceptable but here is a list of films that haven’t been claimed yet!

For those who have already signed up…

Thank you!  I will be putting up a post on September 10th which will have the complete roster.  As I get links throughout the blogathon I will update the roster with the available posts.  Participants need only comment on that post, tweet at me, or send me an email with the link to their entries for the blogathon.  I am also planning to put up daily recaps of all the posts I receive each day!


So, what is there left to do?  Not much except get excited!  I can’t wait to see what everyone has in store for what I am sure will be a fabulous celebration of a great American director!

The Anti-Damsel Blogathon: WESTWARD THE WOMEN (1952)

This post is part of the Anti-Damsel Blogathon hosted by Fritzi of Movies Silently and Jo of The Last Drive-In.  Be sure to check out the other entries here!

When I first heard of this blogathon I was beyond excited to take part.  I loved the idea of celebrating some truly tough and empowered women  in film.  As I go along I am finding that more and more classic films had some very fine examples of women doing what they want when they want and not giving a hoot what other people think.  Real kick-bottom-take-names type behavior.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think that there are some good examples of empowered women in television and film today, but often I feel that many modern “empowered women” in media are not as tough as we might like to believe.  Often it seems like a woman is meant to exude confidence and independence simply because she can fit into a leather catsuit without showing any cellulite or because she can punch and kick people in vaguely sexual ways while tossing witticisms over her shoulder.  To me being an empowered female is more about being treated, not as a man’s equal, but as a person.  Not wanting gender to come into the equation at all and not allowing my gender to affect either other people’s treatment of me nor my expectations of my own limits.  Being empowered is doing anything and everything that I want to, no matter how tough, not because I am a woman and I want to prove something but because I want to do it and why should my gender have any thing to do with anything.  If I want to go out and rebuild an engine I can, if I want to wear a tutu and dance in the ballet I can, and if I want to write a classic film blog I can.  To me being empowered is about respect and what I look like in a catsuit should have nothing to do with it.  There are no catsuits in WESTWARD THE WOMEN.  There are, however, about two hundred highly empowered, tough, and determined WOMEN (not girls).

In 1851 Roy Whitman (John McIntre) is running a prosperous ranching community in his valley in California.  There is one problem however.  There are no women around and the men are getting antsy.  The men want to lay down roots and start families of their own, which means that they need wives.  Roy turns to his friend Buck Wyatt (Robert Taylor), who is an experienced trail blazer, and recruits him to travel to Chicago with Roy in the hopes of finding enough women willing to come west and marry the hundred men of Whitman Valley.  Buck is resistant at first as he believes the journey would be too difficult for women to endure, but he finally agrees once Roy offers to double his usual salary.

Once in the city Buck and Roy set up a “casting call” of sorts for any eligible women willing to come out and marry some tough California ranchers, sight unseen.  Many women turn up, all seeking a new life, and Roy soon has one hundred and forty-eight women signed up.  The last two are Fifi Danon (Denise Darcel) and Laurie Smith (Julie Bishop).  Fifi and Laurie are prostitutes who, after seeing their other prostitute friends turned away, went off and changed their usual clothes for something more modest.  Roy seems fooled by the change but Buck sizes both women up immediately and silently registers his disgust.  The party is now full at one hundred and fifty women.  Among those chosen are Patience Hawley (Hope Emerson), the aging widow of a New England sea-captain and mother of two lost sons; Maggie O’Malley (Leonore Lonergan), farm girl and an expert with a gun; Rose Meyers (Beverly Daniels), who is pregnant with an illegitimate child; Mrs. Maroni (Renata Vanni), an Italian widow traveling with her nine-year-old son Tony (Guido Martufi).  Why fifty extra women you might be wondering?  Due to the toughness of the trek ahead, Roy and Buck expect fifty of the women to either die or abandon the journey.  Buck then goes off to recruit his own crew of men while Roy invites the women up to each choose the picture of the man she would like to marry.

Buck gathers his crew of hopefuls, among them a small Japanese man called Ito (Henry Nakamura) who becomes the cook for the team, and gives them all the rundown of what will be expected of them.  The men seem fairly eager to join up, especially when they hear so many women will be around.  Buck soon puts a stop to that and warns them to “stay away from the women” promising to shoot anyone who disobeys.  Over the next week some of the women who are versed in shooting guns, riding horses, and controlling mules teams teach the rest of the ladies how to perform these skills on the trail.  Buck arrives with his men, doubtful that the women will be able to carry their own weight.  He tells the women to prepare for a long and difficult journey and warns them to “stay away from the men”.  Buck then calls for the wagon train to move out which, much to his surprise, it does without any issues.

After a few days of travel things seem to be going well.  That is until Buck catches one of his men heading into a wagon with one of the women for some “quality time”.  True to his word, and much to the surprise of all the men, Buck shoots the offender in the shoulder promising to kill the next man who tries anything like that.  He has seen too many wagon trains descend into chaos when men and women start canoodling.  The men grudgingly accept this and things go one peacefully for a time.  One day the wagon train finds itself under threat from a band of raiding Indians.  As the women circle the wagons the men ready themselves for a fight.  The Indians admit that their arrows are no match for the guns of the wagon train but promise to come back when the odds are in their favor.  Buck decides to not push the train forward any farther that day and they make camp.  The women are enjoying a game of “Have you ever seen a sting bat?” when Fifi comes up asking if anyone has seen Laurie.  No one has and she rushes off, promptly running into one of the men coming back from the desert looking disheveled.  Fearing the worst, Fifi hurries off and finds her friend raped and beaten.  She yells for Buck, who comes running.  After taking in the scene Buck returns and confronts the man, who reasons that he didn’t kill Laurie but only “roughed her up a little bit” and gave her nothing more than she got a thousand times before in her profession.  Buck is unmoved and makes good on his promise, shooting the man dead.  The other men are shocked and one attempts to shoot Buck, before being shot dead himself by Maggie.  Buck thanks Maggie and then advises everyone to go to bed for the night, but he takes a few moments to voice his concerns for the wagon train to Roy.

In the morning Buck’s worst fears are concerned.  All the men, save Ito and a man named Jim Bailey (who has fallen in love with Rose), has left taking with them eight women and any hope of safely finishing the trail or so Buck believes.  When he tells this to the women, offering them an option of turning back and going home, everyone one of them responds “Not me!”.  Buck smiles and tells them to ready the wagons, the trail was tough before but it will be even worse now…and the Indians have not forgotten their promise.

This was an amazing movie.  Based on an original story idea from Frank Capra, which he then sold to his friend William Wellman, WESTWARD THE WOMEN is definitely going into my top ten list.  Often toted as a western that turned the genre on its head, I don’t feel like Wellman made this film for that reason.  I think he found this idea exciting and wanted to see it come to life, and if it riled a few things up in the world of westerns all the better.  After reading Wellman’s biography I got the sense that William Wellman was a man who didn’t care if you were a man or a woman.  He cared about what sort of person you were.  If you were a hard worker, tough and able to roll with the punches, then it didn’t matter if you were a woman or not.  I think he had great respect for strong women, women who didn’t put other people down to make themselves feel better, women who didn’t complain and want special treatment, women who meant what they said, said what they meant, and did what they said they would do.  And that attitude really comes out in this film.

In another director’s film, Ford, Hawkes, even Capra, there would have been a come to the light moment where Fifi and Laurie repent for their wicked former ways.  Wellman does not do this, nor does he make Rose regret her unmarried dalliance, nor Patience forswear love to any man but her lost husband.  Rather he allows each of these women to be human and to have a past that is less than perfect but one that remains with them and shapes who they are.  These women are seeking marriage not for love or the fairy tale ending, but for safety in a world which had very few options available to unmarried females.  The fact that he allows the women to choose their own husbands, to step up and pick rather than showing up and standing like a meat auction before the men, shows too that he is valuing these women and their choices as adults.  He is allowing them to have free will and independence, trusting them to know what is best for themselves.

Buck never sugar coats things for the women on account of their sex.  He tells them upfront how dangerous the journey will be and offers them a chance out at the beginning.  Not one women leaves.  He registers some surprise at this and Buck’s journey to respecting the women is part of the story of WESTWARD THE WOMEN.  And again, where other directors would have made a big show about it, would have had one great sudden realization on Buck’s part, Wellman does not do this.  Rather he allows Buck to realize through the continued observation of the strength and determination of these women, that he was judging them too quickly before.  He never says “I was wrong” but then he doesn’t need to because we see it and realize it too.

Do you know how sometimes you watch a movie and the characters set out on a terrible journey but the terrible things that face them are really about ten minutes worth of only moderately annoying events at best?  Like someone loses a shoe or their favorite locket, someone goes out in the rain to pout and gets pneumonia for a week, and someone falls and sprains their ankle (a classic) before finally reaching their chosen destination?  Yeah, not so much with WESTWARD THE WOMEN.  The wagon train faces some pretty terrible stuff like desert heat, wagon crashes, insanity, Indian raids, the aforementioned rape, and death.  Lots of death.  In fact the female body count is at least four times that of the male body county by the time the film is over.  These women face terrible odds and do so without ever asking for special treatment or consideration.  There is not one scene in which a woman whines about being tired, hot, or hungry.  Not once does a woman collapse and say “I can’t go on!  Just leave me behind!”.  No women is gathered up into the arms of a man and carried because she is too exhausted to go on. And any time a woman starts to lose her cool, another woman is right there ready to slap her across the face and tell her to get on with it.  There are so many great scenes that tell of the strength of women.  I won’t spoil them for you here (go watch this movie!), but for those who have seen it…Mrs. Maroni, Rose and the wagon wheel, Laurie’s look to Fifi after she comes back, and the women’s refusal.

Of note, after the 1930s there were fewer and fewer stuntwomen working in Hollywood.  Many filmmakers would use men in wigs to substitute as women during stunts so it was quite something when Wellman decided to use all women in his production of WESTWARD THE WOMEN.  In fact he hired every stuntwoman working in Hollywood at the time and even cast a few in minor roles.  Stuntwomen like Opal Ernie, Evelyn Finely, Ann Roberts, Edith Happy, Polly Burson, Lucille House, Stevie Myers, Sharon and Shirley Lucas, and Donna Hall.  Polly Burson, who was a rodeo trick rider and had stunted for Betty Hutton, Dale Evans, and Barbara Stanwyck (among others), became the first female stunt coordinator on WESTWARD THE WOMEN.  Despite facing sexism and prejudice at the local town near where the film was shooting, there is a story Wellman told about the stuntwomen being harassed in a local bar which they soon put a stop to by putting a very tight grip on the men’s testicles (one stuntwomen broke a nail), the production crew seems to have never had an issue working alongside the two hundred women.  William Wellman certainly didn’t.

WESTWARD THE WOMEN is absolutely one of the most empowering movies that I have ever seen.  After watching it I had a feeling of the awesome power of just being a woman can be.  The assuredness that we can do anything we put our minds to.  The strength of those two hundred women is magnetic and leaps off the screen.  This is what empowerment truly is.

The William Wellman Blogathon Is Taking Off…And A Brief Note From William Wellman Jr.

First of all, I want to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who has signed up so far to take part in The William Wellman Blogathon!  I was so happy that so many of you are as excited about William Wellman as I am!

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Here is the original post if you would still like to sign up to take part!

I sent a message to William Wellman Jr. to let him know that his book inspired so many of us to come together to celebrate the life and works of his father.  This morning I received this comment from him:

Love your Blogathon idea. My father has been a passion of mine to bring recognition to his vast
body of work. To my mind, he is the most versatile director of his era. Maybe any era…

Thank you so much to William Wellman Jr. for taking the time to stop by and look at our blogathon!  I know we are going to have a great time and do him, and his father, proud!

Announcing The William Wellman Blogathon

I recently read the fantastic biography of William Wellman and found myself so inspired by the life and films of this great American director that I decided to do something about it!  More to the point, I decided to host my very first blogathon!

Announcing The William Wellman Blogathon!

Love WINGS?  Does WESTWARD THE WOMEN get your heart beating?  Want to talk about THE OX-BOW INCIDENT?  Think that Gary Cooper owes quite a bit to William Wellman and want to share your thoughts?  Go for it!  You can write about anything and everything related to William Wellman, his life, his films, and his career.

Now for the nitty gritty!  This event will run from September 10-13, 2015.  I am not assigning days for posts so feel free to post any time during the event.  Duplicates are fine so pick any topic you like!  Also, this is my first time hosting a blogathon and I am going solo so please let me know if I have forgotten anything or if you have any questions.  When the event goes live please be sure so send me a link to your posting either through email, twitter, or posting a comment to the event post on this blog.  I want to make sure you get all the credit you deserve!

So now you are itching for the chance to join in the fun!  How do I sign up, you may be asking.  Why it is very simple!  Just leave me a comment below letting me know your topic of choice and a link to your blog.  You can also tweet at me or send me an email (nowvoyaging [AT] gmail [DOT] com) with the same information.  Once you have done that feel free to take one of the fabulous banners, that Fritzi of Movies Silently has so kindly designed for the event, and post it all over the blogosphere or at the very least your corner of it!  I am so excited to host my first blogathon and I hope you will join me!


Roster

Now VoyagingLady of Burlesque 

SpeakeasyYellow Sky

Movies SilentlyThe Boob

Silver ScreeningsThe Ox-Bow Incident

CineMavenSafe in Hell and Beggars For Life

Shadows and SatinLilly Turner

StardustWings

Old Hollywood FilmsThe Public Enemy

Sister CelluloidFrisco Jenny

Criterion BluesA Star Is Born (1937)

Once Upon A ScreenThe Purchase Price

Silents And TalkiesHeroes For Sale

The Stop ButtonMagic Town

A Shroud of ThoughtsBeau Geste

Twenty Four FramesThe Ox-Bow Incident

Immortal EphemeraWild Boys of the Road

Movie Movie Blog Blog Nothing Sacred

The Motion PicturesWilliam Wellman; The Stanwyck Collaborations

That Classic Movie LifeThe Call of the Wild

Critica Retro Nothing Sacred

Caftan WomanGoodbye, My Lady

Laura’s Misc MusingsWild Boys of the Road

Moon In GeminiWestward The Women

Second Sight CinemaSafe In Hell

Portraits By JenniThe Story Of GI Joe

Pre-Code.ComCollege Coach

Girls Do FilmOther Men’s Women

Vitaphone DreamerA Star Is Born (1937)

The Movie RatNight Nurse

Comet Over HollywoodBattleground

Movie ClassicsThunder Birds

In The Good Old Days Of Classic HollywoodThe Great Man’s Lady and It’s A Big Country

Wide Screen WorldSo Big

Pop Culture ReverieThe Happy Years

Mike’s Take On The MoviesIsland In The Sky

Back To Golden DaysThe Iron Curtain

Barry Bradford – The Story of GI Joe

Noir GirlLove Is A Racket

Serendipitous AnachronismsRoxie Hart

Phyllis Loves Classic MoviesBlood Alley

The Cinematic FrontierWings

Defiant Success – The Ox-Bow Incident

Nitrate DivaBeggars of Life

Louise Brooks Society – Beggars of Life

Wolffian Classic Movies DigestRoxie Hart

B Noir DetourLady of Burlesque

Mildred’s Fat BurgersTrack of the Cat

Cinema Dilettante – Midnight Mary

Losh-Man’s Hollywood ClassicsAcross The Wide Missouri

Spellbound By MoviesMaybe It’s Love

Grand Old MoviesThe Next Voice You Hear


Banners (Thanks Fritzi!)

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william-wellman-blogathon-beau-geste

william-wellman-blogathon-ox-bow

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2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge: WILD BILL WELLMAN; HOLLYWOOD REBEL

This post is part of the 2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge hosted by Raquel of Out Of The Past. Find out more about this event here and stayed tuned all summer for more reviews!

I need you to stop what you are doing right now and go out and buy a copy of WILD BILL WELLMAN.  Seriously, I’ll wait.

Written by William Wellman Jr., WILD BILL WELLMAN tells the life story of great American film director William Wellman.  While many classic film fans are most likely familiar with some aspects of Wellman’s life, his films, and his temper, this book opens up a whole new world of fascinating stories and facts.  Beginning with Wellman’s childhood and his time in the French flying squad during WWI, moving ahead and covering his career in Hollywood and his eventual departure from the movie making business, this is a definite must own for any classic film fan.

I loved every moment of this amazing man’s life and at the end felt that I knew him not only as a director, but as a person.  Wellman lived a life that was worthy of his movies, and one that he attempted to make into a film before the studio heads had their way, and his son has brought that life to us in a compulsively readable biography.  Lest you fear that Wellman will paint his father in a flattering light or a less than accurate one, all of “Wild Bill’s” failings, struggles, and outbursts are recounted.  Wellman is aware of what kind of man his father was and he does not hide the less than glorious parts from us, but at the same time we can feel the pride and love with which he recounts the successes and happy moments of his father’s life.

The book is filled with black and white pictures, scattered throughout the chapters, showing candid moments in the Wellman home and on the sets of his many films which only add to the stories recounted in its pages.  Speaking of films, Wellman made a total of eight-two during his career and they are all at least mentioned in this book.  To those who are sensitive to spoilers (which I am not) to these classic films, some of the movies are written about in more detail than others and often the entire story and plot will de revealed when describing Wellman’s filming process.  If anything I found these sections only heightened my desire to see the films that were being described, having now gained a deeper insight into their creation.

William Wellman Jr. has written a truly wonderful book and one that is a fitting an honorable tribute to his father.  William Wellman was a remarkable man, director, husband, and father, and I feel that in reading this book I was able to have him walk beside me for a short time.  I highly recommend this book to not only classic film fans but to anyone who enjoys a good story about an amazing person.