The movie was Wings. Dinner was vegan chili and cornbread.
Composition of many ground shots blew me away – reminiscent of Millet and Barbizon School. Air flight screens of planes in flames ballet like – oddly serene. Can’t imagine what this must have been like for audiences of the times. Too many bubbles, not enough Gary Cooper – well it was very early but indicates why he became such an icon. This deserves to have been the first Oscar winning movie. Highly recommend. I’d give it a 9 or 10 if only for the historic place it holds in American film, but really for so much else. This is a must see.
Wings (1927) – the FIRST winner of the Best Picture Academy Award
Things I liked:
Loosely based on a midsummer night’s dream
Clara Bow as Mary (meow!) also it is awesome that she helps dummy head Jack work on his car. According to Wikipedia it was rewritten to accommodate Clara Bow, as she was Paramount’s biggest star, but wasn’t happy about her part: “Wings is…a man’s picture and I’m just the whipped cream on top of the pie”.
Brief but wonderful appearance by Gary Cooper
Amazing aerial shots that are still fantastic even by today’s standards
At one of tables in a Paris Café there appears to be a lesbian couple
Fantastic Catholic imagery during David’s death scene
Because this is a silent film it’s fun to read the dialogue in your best ‘old timey newscaster’s voice’
Parts of this film seemed very homoerotic & according to Wikipedia “Wings was one of the first to show two men kissing: when several aviators are presented medals by a French general and are ceremonially pecked on their necks, and a fraternal moment between Rogers and Arlen during the deathbed finale. Marcel Danesi remarks that the Rogers-Arlen kiss was “really not a romantic kiss, reverberating more with the desperate love between two dear friends who are about to be separated by death”, but speculates that the “lingering” aspect of the kiss may have “unconsciously started the process of opening up America’s rigid moral attitudes at the time.”
Things I did NOT like:
At 2h 24min this is a long film. Fortunately, the copy we watched included a brief intermission & it was very much needed.
Jack gets drunk in Paris & begins to see bubbles everywhere. Whereas this was some impressive special effects for the time I kept wishing this scene would be over. Plus what the hell was in that Champagne?
It was hard to believe that both of these men (David & Jack) preferred Sylvia over Mary.
Because once again: Clara Freaking Bow
The character of Jack is just really annoying. He seems like such an idiot. I guess if I think of him as a teenager is makes more sense, but the actor playing him was about 23 at the time.
Rating: 5 out of 10. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t terrible. I’m glad I watched it, but I probably will not watch it again
Charles “Buddy” Rogers
Well I’m not braggin’ babe so don’t put me down
But I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town
When something comes up to me he don’t even try
Cause if I had a set of wings man I know she could fly
She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got
War, huh, good god
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
Oh, war, I despise
‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go to fight
And lose their lives
Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.
Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.
Because I want it all
It started out with a kiss
How did it end up like this
It was only a kiss, it was only a kiss
Now I’m falling asleep
The world is on my side
The Flying Circus
I have no reason to run
So will someone come and carry me home tonight
The angels never arrived
But I can hear the choir
So will someone come and carry me home
Tonight, we are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun
Oh yeah, all right
Are you going to be in my dreams
2hr 24 minutes later
And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
It was a whopping good yarn and technically brilliant for any time but especially 1927.
Wings – 1927.
Where better to start than at the beginning?
Generally, I like pre-film code stuff. I find the films interesting and engaging. I also like silent films a lot, but I tend to get fantastically sleepy while watching them. This was no different. I almost nodded off twice. That is no indictment of the film itself, just my personal inability to keep it together for long silent pictures.
Plusses: There are beautiful shots, amazing composition, and some overall amazing film-making that seems far ahead of its time. I love how the film starts off with Jack and Mary on the ground and progresses into the sky as the story progresses. There is some interesting thematic visual narrative there, for sure. And, I mean, Clara Bow is just amazing. Other plusses include a scene stolen by a young Gary Cooper, the shot of two women clearly on a date at the bar in Paris, and David’s death scene. As Bethany mentions, the Catholic imagery is amazing and over the top. The aerial shots are AMAZING. The dogfights are impressive by todays flying and filming standards! I kept saying out loud that I couldn’t believe this was made in the 1920s.
I wasn’t crazy about the length. YIKES. This thing is long. Clear the calendar if you take the plunge. The bubbles scene is too long. Jack is a jagoff. The story itself is not my cup of tea. I feel like Jack is given a pass for being a prat, and I’m supposed to be super sad about David, and I really wasn’t. That said, it’s a great piece of film making.
Overall, this film was great. I’m glad I watched it. I most likely won’t watch it again, but if you’re into classic cinema, you probably should.