DIRECTED BY WILLIAM A.WELLMAN
A LUCIEN HUBBARD PRODUCTION
PARAMOUNT FAMOUS LASKY CORPORATION
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
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
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
William A. Wellman
Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast ... (uncredited)
John Monk Saunders ... (story)
Hope Loring ... (screenplay) and
Louis D. Lighton ... (screenplay)
Julian Johnson ... (titles)
Byron Morgan ... (story ideas) (uncredited)
B.P. Schulberg ... associate producer
Lucien Hubbard ... producer (uncredited)
J.S. Zamecnik ... (uncredited)
Harry Perry ... (photographed by)
Was lost for decades until a copy was discovered languishing in the
Cinematheque Francaise film archive in Paris, France.
The only silent movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture (then called "Best Production"),
until The Artist (2011) in 2012.
Wings was the very first winner of the category of Best Picture,
then called "Best Production," at the 1st Annual Academy Awards
held at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, CA on May 16, 1929.
The ceremony lasted all of five minutes and was broadcast on
local Los Angeles radio station KHJ 930 AM.
Gary Cooper's two-minute cameo effectively made him a star
and it also marked the beginning of his affair with Clara Bow.
Chocolate syrup was used as blood in the film.
According to biographer David Stenn, Clara Bow did not like her military uniform,
as it did not show off her figure.
She kept fighting with the costumers to let her wear a tight belt and show off her curves.
This film contains the first on-screen kiss between two men.
This film played in theaters for sixty-three weeks upon initial release.
One of the reasons why it was such a resounding success
was that the public had become obsessed with aviation
following Charles Lindbergh's successful trans-Atlantic flight.
Much of the film was based on the experiences of director William A. Wellman
as a combat pilot during World War I. While stationed in France,
he joined the French Foreign Legion's Lafayette Flying Corps, N.87,
les Chats Noir (Black Cat Group).
The plane he flew was a Nieuport 24 fighter, which he named "Celia" after his mother.
He was credited with three recorded "kills" of enemy aircraft, plus five probable kills.
Wellman was shot down in combat and survived the crash,
but walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
He received the Croix du Guerre for his service.
After the war, he returned home and joined the US Army Air Corps for two years,
where he taught combat tactics to new pilots at Rockwell Field in San Diego.
This was one of the few films to win the Oscar for Best Picture
without also being nominated for Best Director.
When a preview was shown in San Antonio, Texas in the spring of 1927,
the film was fourteen reels long.
It was cut down to thirteen for final theatrical release.
With the thousands of extras battling on the ground,
dozens of airplanes flying around in the sky and hundreds
of explosions going off everywhere, only two injuries on the entire picture were incurred.
One was by veteran stunt pilot Dick Grace.
A plane he was crashing was supposed to completely turn over, but it only turned partly over.
Instead of being thrown clear of the plane, which was the plan,
Grace was hurled against part of the fuselage and broke his neck.
He returned to the company after six weeks in the hospital.
The other injury was to one of the army pilots helping out on the shoot.
Unfortunately, he was killed, and director William A. Wellman
feared it would shut down production, but the army held the pilot,
not the director, responsible.
In contrast to co-star Richard Arlen, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers
did not know how to fly a plane when production began,
but learned how to by the end of it.
During filming, Rogers' flight instructor and sometime backup pilot was
Lt. Hoyt Vandenberg (aka "Van"), an Army Air Corps pilot at
California's March Field (Vandenberg later became a four-star general,
commanding the 9th Air Force in World War II, and served as the
US Air Force's first official chief of staff after the war,
when the Air Force was made a separate branch of the military).
For close-up scenes where Jack and David (and other characters) are flying,
the actors are actually working the planes themselves.
To shoot these scenes, a camera was strapped to the engine cowling.
The actors had to get the plane up in the air, keep it up,
fly it so that clouds or German fighter planes could be seen in the background,
operate the (motorized) camera and land the plane-and act at the same time.
During Rogers' early flights, Vandenberg would hide in the back seat of the plane
and operate the controls while Rogers gave his performance.
Paramount Pictures was keen to exploit the presence and reputation of Clara Bow
by inserting a scene that required her to be topless.
Although she was mainly seen from the back, she was briefly glimpsed
by the camera from the front.
The only movie to win an Academy Award for Engineering Effects.
Director William A. Wellman appeared in the film, in what today could be called a
"cameo" (although he does "speak").
During the final battle scene, Wellman, portraying a doughboy, is shot and exclaims,
"Atta boy! Them buzzards are some good after all!"
The Battle of St. Mihiel was meticulously staged, with William A. Wellman
spending ten days choreographing and rehearsing sixty planes and 3,500 extras,
who were consisted exclusively of members of the National Guard.
As a former pilot, director William A. Wellman knew how vital
it was to have clouds for the dogfights, but the skies over Texas
were clear for the first four weeks of production so no aerial scenes had been shot.
When executives at Paramount Pictures questioned him about the delay,
he explained that without clouds the audience would get no sense of
speed or even movement--clouds gave audiences a sense of perspective,
speed and direction, and without them planes flying around in a clear sky
would just look like a swarm of flies.
The U.S. military cooperated heavily in the making of this film,
providing thousands of soldiers, millions of dollars worth of equipment,
and virtually all of the pursuit planes the army had at the time.
Director William A. Wellman's wife, Margery Chapin, and daughter,
Gloria Wellman, played the peasant mother and daughter whose house
gets crashed into toward the end of the film.
The only movie to ever win an Academy Award for Best Production.
In the Oscars' first year of existence, two "Best Picture"-type awards were given:
This film was awarded Best Production and Sunrise (1927)
was awarded Best Artistic Quality of Production.
Both awards were discontinued the following year and replaced by the modern Best Picture Oscar;
Best Production is usually thought of as that award's equivalent.
A scene of an aerial raid on a German troop train was filmed but not used.
It later turned up as part of The Legion of the Condemned (1928).
While many believe that this was the first movie to incorporate product placement
(Hershey's Chocolate Bar), it is not true.
The earliest known occurrence
of product placement in a film was that of Red Crown gasoline in the short film The Garage (1920).
Richard Arlen, whose character is a fighter pilot, had actually been a pilot
with the Royal Canadian Flying Corps in World War I (though he never saw combat).
Director William A. Wellman had his cinematographer Harry Perry
lash his cameras to the stunt planes to capture the vertiginous feelings of being in dogfights.
Wings contains some of the earliest footage of onscreen nudity (mostly male).
Richard Arlen and Jobyna Ralston met on the set and were married during production. Their marriage lasted until 1946.
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Producer Lucien Hubbard hired William A. Wellman because of his WWI aviator experience.
Richard Arlen and writer John Monk Saunders had also served as pilots during the war and acted as military advisers on the film, too.
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Clara Bow wasn't happy with appearing in the film, as she knew her part was merely decorative.
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Soldiers from the army's 2nd Infantry Division, as well as members if the
Texas National Guard, stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas, were used as extras.
The same division was used for The Rough Riders(1927), a film directed by Victor Fleming.
The entire score was written, composed, and recorded using a Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.
In 1925 and 1926, Byron Morgan sent ideas for a story about air service in World War I
to Famous Players Lasky Corporation.
The company agreed when he brought this to their attention,
and settled with him for $3750 which included his waiving claims to all rights to his material.
As of 2016, this is the first of eleven movies to win the
Academy Award for Best Picture without receiving a single acting nomination.
The other ten, in order, are All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Grand Hotel (1932),
An American in Paris (1951), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Around the World in Eighty Days (1956),
Gigi (1958), The Last Emperor (1987), Braveheart (1995), The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King (2003), and Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
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When Wings was revived in 1981 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City,
Carmine Coppola conducted a full symphony orchestra with synchronized special effects.
Wings was the opening film of the 17th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2012.
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Wings debuted as a road show film (meaning that it shown on a city-by-city basis)
on August 1, 1927; the film went into general release
17 months and 4 days later on January 5, 1929 (Clara Bow's sound film debut,
The Wild Party, went into production three days before on January 2, 1929),
not the April 1928 release date that was erroneously posted on this site.
The "German" fighters in the film are actually Curtiss P-1 "Hawks".
The French General does kiss the four heroes - one French, two American and one British
- on both cheeks. But he also salutes all of them with his LEFT hand.
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One of two Oscar winners for Best Picture whose title has only one syllable
(the other is Crash (2004).
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.
When Schwimpf is punched and falls down, he drops his coat on the ground,
but is on the table in a following shot.
Mary paints the "shooting star" on the left side of Jack's car.
Jack immediately drives off to pick up Sylvia. Jack and Sylvia drive past Mary.
The "shooting star" is now on the right side of Jack's car.
Mary paints the shooting star on only one side of the car.
But a shot or two later of the car from a different angle,
where they are standing in front of the car, reveals enough information to show
that the shooting star is now painted on both sides of the car.
At 1:27:27, the position of David holding the letter changes between shots.
Errors in geography
Jack and David shoot down a German bomber.
The soldiers in the just-bombed village come running out
and celebrate atop the bomber's wreckage, but by the time it was shot down,
the bomber was a good many miles away from the village -
too far away for the troops to just run out to its wreckage.
When David says goodbye to his stiff and formal parents and is then greeted
affectionately by his dog, as he pets the dog's head, a "treat"
can be seen hidden in his hand to make the dogs affectionate.
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Bexar County, Texas, USA
Camp Bullis - Harry Wurzbach Rd, San Antonio, Texas, USA
Camp Stanley, San Antonio, Texas, USA (battle of St. Mihiel)
Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, USA
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, USA
(Charles Lindbergh dedicates Davis Monthan Field: September 23, 1927)
Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, USA (aerial sequences
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