William A. Wellman
Having directed nearly 80 motion pictures throughout his career, William Wellman was an extraordinarily prolific director whose output contained a number of cinematic gems amidst a rather unexceptional canon. Wellman started his career during the silent era and had the prestige of directing the World War I actioner, "Wings" (1927), which was the first motion picture to ever win an Oscar for Best Picture. He spent the next 10 years directing a string of forgettable movies until reaching new heights with the scathing screwball comedy "Nothing Sacred" (1937) and the original version of "A Star Is Born" (1937), which earned him the only Academy Award of his career. Wellman went on to direct the dark and gritty Western "The Ox-Bow Incident" (1943), the tone of which ran counter to America's thirst for escape from the war, therefore sealing its fate as a commercial failure, though it lived on as one of Wellman's masterpieces. From there, he helmed a number of great Westerns and war-themed movies like "The Story of G.I. Joe" (1945), "Yellow Sky" (1948) and "Battleground" (1949). Late in his career, Wellman teamed with John Wayne on the terror-in-the-skies thriller "The High and the Mighty" (1954), but rode off into the sunset on the back of several mediocre films until his retirement in 1958. Though his career was uneven, Wellman directed enough film classics to be considered one of the premier directors of Hollywood's Golden Age.