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Wings (1927)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance, War | 5 January 1929 (USA)
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Two young men, one rich, one middle class, who are in love with the same woman, become fighter pilots in World War I.

Directors:

William A. Wellman, Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast (uncredited)

Writers:

John Monk Saunders (story), Hope Loring (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Clara Bow ... Mary Preston
Charles 'Buddy' Rogers ... Jack Powell (as Charles Rogers)
Richard Arlen ... David Armstrong
Jobyna Ralston ... Sylvia Lewis
El Brendel ... Herman Schwimpf
Richard Tucker ... Air Commander
Gary Cooper ... Cadet White
Gunboat Smith ... The Sergeant
Henry B. Walthall ... David's Father
Roscoe Karns ... Lt. Cameron
Julia Swayne Gordon ... David's Mother
Arlette Marchal ... Celeste
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rod Rogers Rod Rogers ... Aviator
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Storyline

Two young men from the same town but different social classes end up as fighter pilots in WW1. Jack Preston is a keen auto mechanic, building and modifying cars. David Armstrong comes from a wealthy family. They are both in love with the same woman, Sylvia. Her heart belongs to David but she doesn't let Jack know and plays along with his infatuation. Meanwhile, Jack's neighbour, Mary, is deeply in love with him but he just views her as a friend. WW1 interrupts the romantic entanglements as Jack and David enlist in the US Army Air Service (Air Service of the AEF at the time). They are initially bitter enemies, due to them both vying for Sylvia's affections. Over time, however, they become very good friends. They are both posted to the same fighter squadron in France, where being a fighter pilot means every day could easily be your last. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Sensational Romance of the War Fliers! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War | Action

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 January 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alas See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$746
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System) (musical score and sound effects)| Silent | Dolby Digital (2012 restoration edition)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the film's restoration, the original score was unearthed from the Library of Congress. It was believed that this was the only manuscript left of the music. See more »

Goofs

The film is set during the years 1917-1918. However, most of the female civilian clothes and hairstyles are contemporary with the late 1920s, particularly the clothes worn by Clara Bow in the home sequences and in the Follies Bergere sequence. Bow's and almost all the other female characters have bobbed hair, common in 1927 but almost non-existent during World War One. See more »

Quotes

John "Jack" Powell: [drunk with champagne] H'ray for bubbles!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Some showings have trimmed Clara Bow's brief topless scene. See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood: Pioneers (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Sicilian Vespers
(credited on 2012 restored score only)
Written by Giuseppe Verdi
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Remains really well made and impressive!!
2 September 2012 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Wings (1927)

An epic WWI movie that uses all the classic approaches to a war film and has a lot of great battle footage. It's a tale of rivalry over a girl, of fighting for country (and against the Germans), and of facing death. There are several scenes that make death really gruesome--blood spurting from a pilot's mouth, or a man crushed under a tank--that took me by surprise. I didn't know that such a mainstream American film would go there.

"Wings" is in a way exactly what American movies would look like thereafter--not just war movies, but all of them. By that I don't mean directors studied this movie and it was the inspiration from here on. But just that the story line, the romance, and even the filming, adventurous but straight on, with more attention to characters and plot than visual effect, all of this would be how films would be made for decades. Including many more by the director, William Wellman, who is one of handful of truly expert but never quite daring and inventive directors of classic Hollywood.

To back this up neatly, compare this film to the other film that jointly won Best Picture this year (the first year the Oscars were given, and the only year when the best picture category had two separate parts). That is Murnau's "Sunrise." Never mind which is better ("Sunrise," easily by most accounts). Notice how this film is utterly conservative and "conventional" in its approach to the art of making movies. It's superbly well done, but well within the rules of the time. Yes, there are moments of inspiration, including some double-exposed stock where a scene takes play in the sky over another scene on the ground. But "Sunrise" shows the lyrical art of the camera, and of editing, and of a less literal kind of storytelling. "Wings" is probably much easier to watch for most people--that's the idea. But "Sunrise" is far more engaging and complex, begging you to watch it twice. I doubt anyone needs to see "Wings" a second time.

But then, I have to admit the acting makes more sense in this film. The naturalism of the three leads helps you get emotionally involved. The most famous by far is the woman, Paramount's biggest star, Clara Bow. She doesn't get a huge role (the men do the fighting and flying) but at least when she's there she's a treat. The flying is actually done by the actors, and many of the people involved were veterans (including Wellman, who was a WWI pilot himself).

It's pretty exciting to find this so exciting all these years later. Give it a look. It's been restored really well (there's even a new Blu-Ray release). And it looks great. Don't expect anything new from the story or the filmmaking, but just expect a really well made high drama affair.


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