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Wings (1927), Directed by William A. Wellman, Produced and Edited by Lucien M. Hubbard et al, Starring Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, and Richard Arlen - First Academy Award for "Outstanding Picture"


DonRocks
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The reviews I've read about "Wings" (1927) justifiably rave about the air sequences, many of which were filmed from *above*. I've now seen this film three times, and I just cannot agree with the critics who dismiss the "land plot" as being maudlin - critics are looking at this groundbreaking motion picture through a modern lens. Yes, it's all been done now thousands of times, but I'd love to transport myself back, 87 years ago, and view the thrill of the audiences watching this motion picture marvel. See the restored 2012 version if you can, unless you're an absolute purist who must listen to Bach's keyboard works only on harpsichord.

There are two reasons I've seen this three times: one is my OCD which compels me to watch, in sequence, every single Academy Award winning film (even though the awards themselves mean virtually nothing to me now); the other is that it's just a great movie. A true epic that has it all, and despite its nearly two-and-a-half-hour length, isn't the least bit boring despite being silent - I would advise making it a two-day project unless you're known for patience.

It's a misprint to say this movie "stars" Gary Cooper, as he appears on screen for less than three minutes, but you can tell that he has quite a screen presence, even from this tiny sample. Despite Clara Bow's fame, she adds very little to this film except for star power (she was the biggest star in Hollywood at the time), and in fact, my favorite character is a relatively minor contra-antagonist: the German flying ace Count von Kellerman, who only appears in two extremely short scenes - less than a minute each - and yet embodies everything about human decency, chivalry, and respect - this, despite him being a portrait of Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron). It was an incredibly bold, sympathetic portrayal of a man many Americans at the time still detested (after all, the war ended less than ten years before, and von Richthofen registered over eighty (!) kills). Watch it and you'll see what I mean (and if anyone wants to make a case for Richard Arlen being the true star of the movie, you'll get absolutely no argument from me).

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You sure watch some old-timey shit. Where do you get the time to watch an ancient movie three times?

Total knowledge in all areas of life, man, that's what I'm shooting for. I'm also deluding myself into thinking I have an infinite life span.

Seriously though, if I could list ten silent movies to recommend, Wings would be one of them - it really is something to behold, and somehow manages not to feel all that dated (especially the 2012 restoration which inserts sounds of propellers whirring, engines failing, and enhances an already-gripping score). I do hope you get a chance to watch it.

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There are two reasons I've seen this three times: one is my OCD which compels me to watch, in sequence, every single Academy Award winning film (even though the awards themselves mean virtually nothing to me now); 

Just Best Pictures?  Because you know Pearl Harbor won an Academy Awards.

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Incidentally, I claimed that in the 1927 film "It," Clara Bow just may be the earliest known person to shout out a curse word on film. I don't know whether "Wings" was released before "It," but if so, we may have a new record-holder. :)

Go to the dogfight scene where David realizes he's being pursued by Count von Kellermann (it's well-marked by the text, and comes about 46 minutes into the film). After basically peeing his pants, he shouts a few things in a panic, and then closes by saying, "God Damn!!!"

I'm no professional lip-reader, but I don't think there's any doubt about this one. So it's just a matter of which of the two films was released first - either way, it looks like 1927.

If you have Amazon Prime, they're both free to rent.

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On 5/27/2014 at 8:27 PM, DonRocks said:

to watch, in sequence, every single Academy Award winning film

Huh. My husband is working his way through the AFI's 100 greatest films list. Been an interesting project. Slow though.

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4 hours ago, saf said:

Huh. My husband is working his way through the AFI's 100 greatest films list. Been an interesting project. Slow though.

The Palme d'Or is a better indicator of quality than an Oscar for Best Picture.

My three favorite films of this century (in reverse-chronological order):

"Shoplifters" (2018, Japan)
"Amour" (2012, France)
"Four Months, Three Weeks, and Two Days" (2007, Romania) (*)

(Incidentally, "Moonlight" (2016, USA) just recently got bumped off this list for space reasons.)

I would *love* to discuss any or all of these, each in their own threads - has anyone even heard of them?

(*) I'm not sure how, or when, "The Pianist" (2002, France, UK, Germany Poland) fell off this list.

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