Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Richard Arlen, Jobyna Ralston
John Monk Saunders (Story), Hope Loring (Screenplay), Louis D. Lighton (Screenplay), Julian Johnson (Titles)
BUY THIS FILM
Winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture and the only silent film to be recognized as such, William Wellman's Wings is most certainly an epic achievement when one considers that it was made in 1927 during the early days of cinema.
Hometown best friends Jack (Charles "Buddy" Rogers) and David (Richard Arlen) both compete for the affection of a gorgeous woman (Jobyna Ralston), though Jack doesn't realize that it's the girl next door, Mary Preston (Clara Bow), who really has eyes for him. World War I is soon upon them and the two men are off to France to fight against the Germans, though Mary will end up following Jack into enemy lines in her role as a nurse.
Featuring the cinematic debut of Gary Cooper, Wings features stunts that are remarkable achievements for the period in which they were created and also known as offering one of Clara Bow's finest performances. Weaving together its stunts with a terrific example of classic Hollywood melodrama, Wings has now been given an extraordinary packaging by U.K. based distributor Eureka Entertainment. The packaging, which includes offering the film on Blu-ray for the first time in the U.K., includes:
- Special Dual-Format Blu-Ray/DVD Edition
- New High-Definition 1080p and progressive encode on the DVD
- Two optional scores
- Three video documentary pieces
- 48-Page booklet that includes a new essay on the film by critic and filmmaker Gina Telaroli, an interview with Wellman, an excerpt from Wellman's autobiography, and rare archival imagery
When one considers that this film was shot less than 10 years after the war in which it is set, it's easy to understand why Wings maintains such an immediacy to its action sequences. While the film's narrative arc leaves something to be desired, especially over 80 years after the film's release when we've seen this story time and again, for the era in which it was created Wellman has created a remarkably solid and lasting film and, I'd dare say, a film with bold artistic integrity and an ending of remarkable power.
While largely having a secondary character, Clara Bow is clearly regarded as the film's most compelling figure. For a film released in 1927, it is more than a little remarkable that it contains glimpses of nudity (pre-Hays Code), yet what is most noticeable is simply how it balances its epic scope with what we'd now likely refer to as "popcorn" entertainment values.
There's ultimately nothing "popcorn" about Wings, a beautifully made film from the earliest days of cinema that is important for both its historical and artistic value. Unquestionably, Eureka recognized its importance in choosing to offer it in such an exceptional package.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic