Wings (1927 film)

1927 film / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Wings is a 1927 American silent film known for winning the first Academy Award for Best Picture. The film stars Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, and Richard Arlen. Rogers and Arlen portray World War I combat pilots in a romantic rivalry over a woman. It was produced by Lucien Hubbard, directed by William A. Wellman, and released by Paramount Pictures. Gary Cooper appears in a small role, which helped launch his career in Hollywood.

Quick facts: Wings, Directed by, Written by, Screenplay by...
Film poster
Directed byWilliam A. Wellman
Written byTitles:
Julian Johnson
Screenplay byHope Loring
Louis D. Lighton
Story byJohn Monk Saunders
Produced byLucien Hubbard
Adolph Zukor
Jesse L. Lasky
B.P. Schulberg
Otto Hermann Kahn
(uncredited)[1][lower-alpha 1]
StarringClara Bow
Charles (Buddy) Rogers
Richard Arlen
Gary Cooper
CinematographyHarry Perry
Edited byE. Lloyd Sheldon
Lucien Hubbard (uncredited)
Music byJ.S. Zamecnik (uncredited)
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 12, 1927 (1927-08-12) (New York City, premiere)
  • January 15, 1928 (1928-01-15) (Los Angeles)
  • January 5, 1929 (1929-01-05) (United States)
Running time
Original release:
111 minutes[2]
144 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)
BudgetUS$ 2 million ($28,850,173 adjusted for inflation)[4]
Box office$3.8 million (U.S. and Canada rentals)[5]

The film, a romantic action-war picture, was rewritten by scriptwriters Hope Loring and Louis D. Lighton from a story by John Monk Saunders to accommodate Bow, Paramount's biggest star at the time. Wellman was hired, as he was the only director in Hollywood at the time who had World War I combat pilot experience, although Richard Arlen and John Monk Saunders had also served in the war as military aviators. The film was shot on location on a budget of $2 million (equivalent to $30.61 million in 2021) at Kelly Field in San Antonio, between September 7, 1926, and April 7, 1927. Hundreds of extras and some 300 pilots were involved in the filming, including pilots and planes of the United States Army Air Corps which were brought in for the filming and to provide assistance and supervision. Wellman extensively rehearsed the scenes for the Battle of Saint-Mihiel over ten days with some 3,500 infantrymen on a battlefield made for the production on location. Although the cast and crew had much spare time during the filming because of weather delays, shooting conditions were intense, and Wellman frequently conflicted with the military officers brought in to supervise the picture.

Acclaimed for its technical prowess and realism upon release, the film became the yardstick against which future aviation films were measured, mainly because of its realistic air-combat sequences. It went on to win the inaugural Academy Award for Best Picture at the first Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award ceremony in 1929,[6] the only fully silent film to do so.[lower-alpha 2] It also won the Academy Award for Best Engineering Effects (Roy Pomeroy). Wings was one of the first widely released films to show nudity. 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 theaters 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.

The film entered the public domain in the United States in 2023.[7]