Wings (1927) - All about the ground breaking 1st Oscar winner
The best silent era war epic, the revolutionary, the trendsetter, the movie to introduce nudity for the first time in Hollywood silent era and lots more.
All about the ground breaking, breath taking Wings (1927) – The first Oscar winner of the silent era.
Wings (1927) premiered on August 12, 1927 - New York City and released on January 15, 1928 – Los Angeles is a benchmark that set the yardstick for future aviation/war/films and air combat sequences in movies to follow.
The first silent era feature to show case both male and female nudity.
3 naked men standing in a row can be seen undergoing physical exams in the enlistment office, from behind through a door which is opened and closed.
Lead actress Clara Bow’s breasts are exposed just for a second, during a bedroom scene when military police barge in as she is changing her clothes.
Wings was made at a budget of $2 million $2,000,000 in 1927 is equal to $29,432,090 in 2021 that accounts to a whopping 2,13,57,16,065.18 crores Indian Rupee - Baahubali: The Beginning (2015) was 180 crores. Wings was shot at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas between September 7, 1926 and April 7, 1927.
Real planes and pilots of the United States Army Air Corps were brought in for the filming and to provide assistance and supervision.
Primary scout aircraft flown in the film were Thomas-Morse MB-3s standing in for American-flown SPADs and Curtiss P-1 Hawks painted in German livery. Later to bring more authenticity and realism more technical assistance and supply of planes and pilots from Washington was considered by the director - William A. Wellman. The Air Corps sent six planes and pilots from the 1st Pursuit Group stationed at Selfridge Field near Detroit, including 2d Lt. Clarence S. "Bill" Irvine who became Wellman's adviser. Irvine was responsible for engineering an airborne camera system to provide close-ups and for the planning of the dogfights. Hundreds of extras and 300 pilots were involved in the filming.
Director - William A. Wellman was a man who had a n eye for perfection. The aerial battles required ideal weather to shoot and the wait could at times extended to 18 days. During the delay in the aerial shooting, Wellman extensively rehearsed the scenes for the Battle of Saint-Mihiel over ten days with some 3500 infantrymen.
A large battlefield with trenches and barbed wire was created on location for the filming. Wellman took responsibility for the meticulously-planned explosions himself, detonating them at the right time from his control panel.
During those times, an average Hollywood production took around a month to shoot. Wings reportedly took approximately nine months to complete. Now you know the reason why.
In the cafe scene, one of the couples in the long shot is a same-sex female couple.
Wings (1927) is also remembered in history to feature the first same-sex kiss in a mainstream Hollywood movie.
It happens during the climax of the movie when a dying David Armstrong (Richard Arlen) is comforted by Jack Powell (Charles Rogers). The scene speaks about their deep friendship and affection for each other.
Gary Cooper appears in a small role as Cadet White which helped him launch his career in Hollywood.
Paramount Pictures’ Wings is a silent film packed with romance, action, and drama.
Set during World War I, Wings is an action war romance drama belonging to the silent era. It’s the story of two fighter pilots - Jack Powell (Charles Rogers) and David Armstrong (Richard Arlen) coming from different class falling for the same woman - Sylvia Lewis (Jobyna Ralston). In the meantime, Mary Preston (Clara Bow) longs for Jack. Jack and David are rivals in their hometown, they gradually develop a friendship and as the war rages on. While Sylvia remains on the home front and waits for David’s return, Mary joins the war effort as an ambulance driver and encounters Jack in a new context. Rest is how Mary, Jack, David and Sylvia are caught between love & duty during the deadly war.
Wings 1927 cast and crew details
Director: William A. Wellman
Producer: Lucien Hubbard, Adolph Zukor, Jesse L. Lasky, B.P. Schulberg, Otto Hermann Kahn
Writer: Julian Johnson
Screenplay: Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton
Story: John Monk Saunders
Starring: Clara Bow as Mary Preston, Charles Rogers as Jack Powell, Richard Arlen as David Armstrong and Jobyna Ralston as Sylvia Lewis
Music: J.S. Zamecnik
Cinematography : Harry Perry
Editor: E. Lloyd Sheldon
Production Company: Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release date: August 12, 1927 (New York City, premiere)
January 15, 1928 (Los Angeles)
Running time Original release: 111 minutes
Restoration: 144 minutes
Language: Silent (English intertitles)
Wings won the first Academy Award for Best Picture at the first annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award ceremony in 1929. The movie also won the Academy Award for Best Engineering Effects (Roy Pomeroy). In 1997, Wings was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", and the film was re-released to Cinemark theatres to coincide with the 85th Anniversary for a limited run in May 2012. The film was re-released again for its 90th anniversary in 2017. The Academy Film Archive Preserved Wings in 2002.