William Augustus Wellman ('My father gave me that name so I'd learn how to fight') came back from the Great War with a new nickname, a steel plate in his head, and enough experience to fuel 76 tough and tender movies, 'films you have to reach for', as Tab Hunter puts it. A handful are classics - the original A Star Is Born, The Public Enemy, Nothing Sacred - but somehow the oeuvre has escaped the critical attention it deserves. At the very least, this thorough, impressive documentary will have you desperate to catch up with half a dozen lesser known titles, but it also serves as a probing biography of a fascinating life. Unusually astute anecdotes and insights come from an all-star line-up: Eastwood, Redford, Peck, Poitier, Mitchum, Scorsese, even Nancy Reagan, marred only slightly by the Alec Baldwin's purple narration ('directing a motion picture might be akin to helming a ship called Genesis').
Cast and crew
Charles Buddy Rogers