As a film lover, I am a huge fan of the Academy Awards ceremony. In order to get a better grasp of film as a discipline, I’ve decided to watch all of the Best Picture winners starting with the first one. Wings (1927), a silent film about love, war, and friendship, was one of three nominees at the first Academy Awards ceremony. The feel of the film is drastically different from those of the films that we watch today, making the viewing a truly interesting experience.
The film starts in a small town right before the United States enters World War I. A sort of love rectangle ensues, which is a little confusing, but I’ll do my best to explain
The characters are as follows:
- Jack: An ordinary young man in love with a wealthy city-girl, Sylvia
- Mary: An ordinary young woman who is in love with her childhood friend, Jack
- David: A wealthy young man in love with Sylvia
- Sylvia: A wealthy city-girl who is in love with David
When war breaks out, Jack and David enlist, leaving Mary and Sylvia devastated. Jack assumes that Sylvia wants to give him her picture, which in reality, she has prepared to give to David. Instead of letting Jack go to war broken-hearted, she gives him her picture, but later explains to David that she did so out of pity, and that she really loves him. Meanwhile, Jack is leaving for training when he sees Mary and realizes that he never said good-bye. She gives him her picture, which he accepts even though he is infatuated with Sylvia. The whole situation is sort of pitiful, and I personally think that Jack needed to get his act together. I mean, Sylvia has no interest in him, and he is disregarding the girl who does.
After a tearful goodbye, Jack and David go off to war cheerfully as apparently some people do. They train to be in the air force, hence the film’s title. Finally, they leave for Europe with high hopes that are soon dashed when one of their roommates dies. There are some battling scenes which are hilarious (20s’ special effects sure are something) but nevertheless endearing. Eventually, after tons of war, the boys have a little bit of a
attitude (and frankly, so do I).
Mary appears in Europe after joining the war effort as a driver! Serious girl power!
Well, so as not to spoil the end for you, I’ll stop my recap there. Let’s just say the rest of the film (which is fairly long, I must say) is filled with more war intrigue as well as a little romance.
- Clara Bow, the actress who played Mary, reportedly didn’t like her military outfit because it didn’t showcase her figure. Love that woman!
- Chocolate syrup was used as blood.
- First movie where two men kiss each other. Progressive!
- Clara Bow was quite the “it girl” (a term that she made popular in her film “It”), and if you’ve ever seen the delightful film, The Artist, the leading lady is based off of Bow.
- Buddy Rogers, who played the role of Jack was also a jazz musician.
- This was one of Gary Cooper’s first films that helped him achieve a hugely successful acting career spanning many decades.
- Clara Bow was considered radical at her time, but in many ways was a progressive who was unafraid to share her perspective.
I wasn’t sure what I would think of Wings, but I’ve got to say, it is pretty entertaining! I love the cinematography and the fast pace walking that is always present in the silent films. If you enjoy action/adventure films you’ll get a kick out of it. Silent films personally don’t bother me, but if they do you, just warning you now that Wings is almost two and a half hours long. Needless to say, it’s a bit of a commitment. Regardless, Wings is a great representation of where film as well as the appreciation of film started- and the leading lady is kind of awesome!