William A. Wellman

Sog., Scen.: Maude Fulton. F.: Barney McGill. M.: Edward M. McDermott. Int.: Grant Withers (Bill), Mary Astor (Lily), Regis Toomey (Jack), James Cagney (Ed), Joan Blondell (Marie), Fred Kohler (Haley), J. Farrell MacDonald (Peg Leg), Lillian Worth (cameriera), Walter Long (Bixby). Prod.: Warner Bros Pictures, Inc., The Vitaphone Corp.  35mm. D.: 70’.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes


Daniel Kasman (for William A. Wellman: A Dossier) writes: “ The films of William A. Wellman may be su used with, live, and breath aviation – the director being an aviator himself – but the transport they most resemble isn’t the airplane but the boxcar. ose railway cars, like the city apartments named after their spatial arrangement, are constructed like Wellman makes movies: a chain of discrete segments. In Wellman’s cinema, each single scene is a car in each train-length feature, and it’s even quite possible that each car could be rearranged and rigged to connect to what- ever follows it”.

The opening scene of Other Men’s Women perfectly encapsulates this metaphor for watching an entire Wellman feature: a train approaches a diner and a lively train operator named Bill (Grant Withers) jumps o and counts the cars as they pass. In the diner, Bill eats his lunch and irts with a waitress (who know- ingly and enthusiastically lobbies his lazy serves back at him) – when he goes to hop back on board he tosses her a piece of gum and a catchphrase: “Have a little chew on me”. It’s a deceptively breezy scene for a lm that eventually pivots to focus on, like so many Wellman pictures, the hopelessness and bitterness of life. But despite this, or perhaps precisely because of it, Other Men’s Women is full of the immediacy of experience, as Wellman frequently shifts the tone of the picture at will and highlights the physical. Labor bonds the characters together – as they dig holes to plant pea pods, x buttons, and give each other haircuts – and tears them apart, as Regis Toomey’s Jack sadly discovers after a ght with Bill, his co- worker and best friend, aboard a mov- ing train. At other points, Wellman simply observes the aftere ects of life lived hard, showcasing a neighbor’s peg-leg or a landlady’s stutter. e cast is pleasure personified, with incredible (and underappreciated) turns by Withers, Toomey, and a radiant (and young) Mary Astor, plus early and striking appearances from James Cagney and Joan Blondell. The constantly evolving expression on Blondell’s face, from pure joy to pure despair, in a scene where she and Withers drunkenly discuss their future, is reason enough to watch Other Men’s Women over and over again.

Gina Telaroli