The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson, an Administrative Assistant at the Packard Campus.
Thursday, November 5 (7:30 p.m.)
Lafayette Escadrille (Warner Bros., 1958)
Relying on his own World War I service in the Lafayette Flying Corps, director William A. Wellman also wrote the original story for what became the final film released in his nearly four decade career. Tab Hunter stars as Thad Walker, a young American who joins the European war effort and falls in love with a French prostitute. Joining the Escadrille with Walker are fellow expatriates Tom Hitchcock (Jody McCrea), Duke Sinclaire (David Janssen), George Moseley (Clint Eastwood) and “Wild Bill” Wellman (played by the director’s son, Bill Wellman Jr.). Though the director was unhappy with studio interference on the film, the spectacular aerial sequences, reminiscent of those in Wellman’s Academy Award winning silent epic Wings, were well received. Frank Thompson, author of the book William A. Wellman (1983), will introduce the program.
Friday, November 6 (7:30 p.m.)
Island in the Sky (Warner Bros., 1953)
John Wayne stars as Captain Dooley, a seasoned World War II civilian transport pilot who is forced to make an emergency landing in uncharted wildlands near the Quebec-Labrador border. Dooley must keep his four crewmen alive in sub-zero and deadly conditions while waiting for rescue. William A. Wellman directed this dramatic adventure film based on the novel by Ernest K. Gann who also served as technical adviser. Lloyd Nolan, Walter Abel, James Arness and Andy Devine turn in first-rate supporting performances. Variety praised the film, saying “[it] moves back and forth very smoothly from the tight action at the crash site to the planning and execution of the search. It’s a slick job by all concerned.” Frank Thompson, author of William A. Wellman (1983), will introduce the program.
Saturday, November 7 (7:30 p.m.)
William A. Wellman Double Feature
Buffalo Bill (20th Century-Fox, 1944) Buffalo hunter, Indian scout, and Wild West showman William F. Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, is portrayed by Joel McCrea in this entertaining fictionalized biopic, shot in Technicolor and directed by William A. Wellman. Maureen O’Hara co-stars as Cody’s well-bred wife Louisa, with Linda Darnell, Thomas Mitchell, Anthony Quinn, Edgar Buchanan and Chief Thundercloud in supporting roles. Per Wellman biographer Frank Thompson, who will be introducing the film: “The most striking scene is the Battle of War Bonnet Gorge. Wellman had a particular talent for filming action in a way that the impact is felt rather than seen.” The battle footage was so well done that Fox re-used it in at least two later films.
Maybe It’s Love (Warner Bros., 1930) William A. Wellman’s first film under his contract with Warner Bros. was this Pre-Code musical comedy based on a story by Darryl Zanuck. Joan Bennett heads the cast as the daughter of Upton college President Sheffield who is about to lose his job unless the football team rallies from its slump. Joe E. Brown steals the show as Speed Hanson, a goofy gridiron star who emits a loud and long yell whenever scoring a touchdown. Members of the 1929 All-American football team appear as themselves.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.