Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick

Director: Todd Robinson
Screenwriters: Todd Robinson

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


Besides being an affectionate tribute to his father, Bill Wellman, Jr.’s documentary, Wild Bill, is an informative reassessment of a career that produced more than seventy-six films, garnered thirty-four Academy Award nominations (including four for best picture and three for best director), and merited the D.W. Griffith Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Directors Guild.

Featuring clips from Wellman films ranging all the way from Wings (1928) to Lafayette Escadrille (1958), and extensive interviews with family members, friends, and actors and actresses who worked with Wellman, such as Buddy Rogers, Harry Morgan, Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier and Nancy Reagan, Wild Bill is the definitive portrait of “the character man of directors,” who “rarely landed the glamor roles but nearly always won the most interesting ones.” Directors like Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese discuss the ways he influenced their work and his impact on American filmmaking in general.

The Wellman who emerges from the film is a complex person with deep loyalties and strong convictions but who could also be stubborn, arrogant, and hot tempered. Although he made some of his best films within the constraints of the Hollywood studio system, he resisted its rigidity and refused to have his work tampered with by invasive producers. Wild Bill is a delightful study of a talented and intriguing man.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details


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