"[A]n affecting portrait of a young man learning to shoulder the sky and using that experience to shoulder a career that was more intense and interesting than those most of us know. Bill Wellman was of a generation that came to the movies not from film school but from life and always knew they could go back where they came from without regret. It made them bolder, braver--and, God knows, less pretentious filmmakers than those who came after them. And bolder, braver, less pretentious men as well."
"[A]n amazing book, part fond memorial, part family scrapbook--packed with unseen photos, mementos of Hollywood's Golden Age, and letters from the front--whose intimate, handmade feel is part of its enormous charm. Wellman's critical rehabilitation is long overdue: let's hope this riveting book will get the job under way."
"With The Man and His Wings, author William Wellman Jr. pays tribute not only to his father, who died in 1975, but also to the maverick creative spirit that drove him....Like any good book about movies -- and this most definitely is one -- it makes you want to see the subject's films, whether for the first time or for the 50th."
"The first Academy Awards announced in 1929 went to William Wellman's 1927 anti-war epic Wings, the film which invented many techniques still used to film aerial battle scenes: Wellman went on to direct other films and stars, but WINGS remained his opus. Man and His Wings, The: William A. Wellman and the Making of the First Best Picture could've been reviewed in our film section, but is featured here for its inclusion of family documents, mementos and personal correspondence from his father's World War I background to reveal the military influences of a director who would change Hollywood forever. A fine behind the scenes look at both Wellman and World War I experiences."
"If there is one through-line in Wellmans career it is his devotion to aviation, and this book focuses largely on his life-changing experiences during World War One, when he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps in France. Fortunately his letters home were saved, and they provide the most personal and revelatory passages in this volume. They are accompanied by previously unpublished family photos. Wellman, Jr. then illustrates how his fathers life experiences informed his work behind the camera, leading up to his production of the World War One aviation epic Wings in 1927. The Man and His Wings is a slender but welcome addition to the film history bookshelf, all the more so since Frank Thompsons excellent career study of Wellman and the directors autobiography (A Short Time for Insanity) are out of print."
"What makes the book remarkable is not the Hollywood material but the director's experiences during World War I. In 1917, Wellman was a borderline juvenile delinquent from Brookline, Mass., when he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps and was assigned to the famous Black Cat squadron, a group of 15 pilots, all of whom were French except Wellman....Wellman Jr. combines an unfinished autobiographical manuscript of his father's and the wonderful letters from World War I to bring us a fascinating book about a man whose type is extinct in show business today."
"Wellman's letter from France in World War I are a great discovery and add much to this rip-roaring tale of the early movies."
"Wild Bill Wellman was one of a kind, and so is this chronicle of his life and adventures leading up to the making of Wings. I was especially touched by his letters home from France during World War I; now I understand a bit more about the young heroes he depicted on screen."
"The story of William Wellman is the story of a great adventurer who became a great director. The Man and His Wings documents both halves of the equation, with an unprecedented intimacy, fueled by Wellman's correspondence from the airfields of France during World War I, and his own oral histories and unpublished manuscripts. It's primary Hollywood history, of course, but it's also primary military history, as told by a man whose superb eye for character detail and epic sweep was already in evidence as an astonishingly intrepid pilot in the Lafayette Flying Corps."