Sunday, February 26, 2012

Silent Sundays: Wings (1927)

“D'you know what you can do when you see a shooting star?”

In honor of the Academy Awards tonight I have decided to dedicate this Silent Sunday to the very first Best Picture winner Wings from 1927. Actually Wings won Best Production the Best Picture title did not come until the following year.
            The film takes place before and during the First World War. Two boys named Jack Powell and David Armstrong live in the same neighborhood. They do not really like each other because they are both in love with the same girl Sylvia. Sylvia is very much in love with David but does not know how to tell Jack that. Right in front of Jack is the girl he once saved from a bonfire Mary Preston (Clara Bow). She loves Jack unquestioningly.
            Jack’s dream is to fly a plane. Before he leaves for the war he sups up a car which Mary calls The Shooting Star. When he leaves he has Mary look after the car. Also before the war Jack goes to Sylvia’s house just as she has finished signing the back of a picture of herself to David. Jack thinks the picture is for him and is so excited Sylvia does not have the heart to tell him the picture is not for him. Sylvia tells David that Jack may have her picture but David has her heart.
            Before they can fly Jack and David have to go through training camp on the ground. Jack still holds a grudge against David so he smashes his hat and when they train in boxing they have an all out fight. After the fight they have a new respect for one another and become the best of friends.
            David and Jack become two flying aces in their regiment. They each gun down several German planes.
            There is a lot more to this story but I cannot give away too much unless you want to be spoiled. Also the story is really long I am not in the mood to type too much of it out.
            This marks the first time I have ever seen Clara Bow in a film. Eh, she really did not do anything for me. I did like her character. I loved her Army uniform; Mary drives an ambulance for the Army. Her uniform looked awesome with the hat, jacket, pants, and high boots. Charles “Buddy” Rogers was very good I liked him. I laughed at his drunken scenes and felt terrible for him at the end. Gary Cooper is the film for not even five minutes but he was so handsome in his uniform.
            A really cool scene was when Jack was in Paris. The camera pans the café through couples sitting at tables. The panning is awesome I loved it. The direction by William Wellman is truly inspiring. The scenes he was able to film and all the emotions he captured were incredible.
              This is famed costumes designer Edith Head's first film. Do not expect to see her glamorous clothing of her later films but her designs for Clara Bow were ok expect for the uniform that was a great costume. Apparently Bow wanted her uniform to form to her curves and drove people nuts wanting to wear a belt. The belt works though it really adds to the costume. 
            Wings was an alright film. I do not know if I had my expectations too high for me to really like it. I did find it an hour too long. I understand the film is a landmark I do appreciate it for that but I just felt it dragged when a lot of the scenes could have been cut down. The film does have some strengths but to me there were more weaknesses. I would for anyone who wants to begin viewing silent films to not watch Wings first but eventually down the road do watch it.