Wings (1927) Review

Wings Best Picture
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

When the action [from a story by John Monk Saunders] settles on terra firma there is nothing present that other war supers haven’t had, some to a greater degree. But nothing has possessed the graphic descriptive powers of aerial flying and combat that have been poured into this effort.

Some of the Magnascope battle scenes in the air are in color. Not natural but with sky and clouds deftly tinted plus spouts of flame shooting from planes that dive, spiral and even zoom as they supposedly plunge to earth in a final collapse.

Richard Arlen goes through the picture minus make-up. At least the cameras register him that way. Consequently he looks the high bred, high strung youngster who would dote on aviation and backs it up with a splendid performance that never hints of the actor. Charles Rogers’ effort is also first rate, the important point here being that these two boys team well together. There not being so much of Clara Bow in the picture, she gives an all around corking performance. El Brendel’s comedy is spasmodic and mostly early in the first half, while Gary Cooper is on and off within half a reel.

The most planes counted in the air at once are 18. But there are the pursuit and bombing machines, captive balloons, smashes and crashes of all types, with some of the shots of these ‘crack-ups’ remarkable. Fake stuff and double photography, too, although no miniatures in regard to the air action are discernible if used.

1927/28: Best Picture, Engineering Effects

Wings (1927) Review

  • Production: Paramount picture and a Lucien Hubbard production. Directed by William Wellman from John M. Saunders' story. Opened at the Criterion, N.Y., for a twice daily run Aug. 12. Running time 139 minutes, split by an intermission, 65 and 74 minutes in respective halves. $2 top.
  • Crew: Complete original review text from 1927.
  • With: Clara Preston - Clara Bow John Powell - Charles Rogers David Armstrong - Richard Arlen Cadet White - Gary Cooper Sylvia Lewis - Jobyna Ralston August Schinidt -El Brendel Celeste - Arlette Marchal Air Commander - Richard Tucker Sergeant - Gunboat Smith Mr. Armstrong - Henry Waithall Mrs. Armstrong - Julia Swayne Gordon Mr. Powell - George Irving Mrs. Powell - Hedda Hopper French Peasant - Nigel de Brulier