1920s · aviation · silent film · Uncategorized

2017 Blind Spots: Wings (1927)

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Two young men from a small town, both in love with the same girl, enlist in the army during WWI. The two train as fighter pilots, eventually gaining much recognition and fame for their exploits and skills. Yet the specter of death is ever looming.

Wings, directed by William Wellman and the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar (1927) lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Although Clara Bow was featured prominently in the promotional material, her screentime is fairly limited. She does still play a crucial part and makes an impact at once with her irrepressible and endearing personality.

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She’s Mary Preston, in love with her next door neighbor Jack Powell (Charles “Buddy” Rogers), who doesn’t reciprocate. Jack is in love with Sylvia Lewis, who in turn is in love with David Armstrong (Richard Arlen). Jack mistakenly believes that Sylvia returns his feelings.

Jack and David go off to war, where they train as pilots. Jack’s farewell is buoyant while David’s is somber. His mother weeps for her boy.

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Gary Cooper has a small role in the film, dying immediately after being introduced. It’s one moment that illustrates the theme of constant impending death.

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Sound is very important in silent films ironically. I watched the film with its re-recorded score as opposed to the pipe organ version. The score was lovely. In terms of visuals, the film is quite tremendous. Rich bronze tints give the film a dreamy, burnished glow, while the dark blue is elegant. The film also boasts breathtaking aerial shots and action set pieces. The camera work is quite impressive too, never once staid or stiff. I really can’t overstate the technical brilliance in nearly every scene, particularly the bubbles that rise up and float in the air when Jack is drinking.

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Gifs via here.

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Charles “Buddy” Rogers was married to America’s sweetheart Mary Pickford and was nicknamed America’s boyfriend. Incredibly handsome with a boyish face, he was just right for the part of Jack. He imbues him with a lot of youthful energy while Richard Arlen is much more restrained as David.

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Wings is a powerful, masterfully directed war epic about love, courage, and friendship. It featured the first kiss between two males onscreen, in a moment filled with tenderness and anguish. It certainly deserves all the acclaim it has garnered over the decades.

This is my entry for the Blind Spot series. Click the banner below for more August discoveries.

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4 thoughts on “2017 Blind Spots: Wings (1927)

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