Dirs: William A. Wellman, Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast
Scrs: Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton
Pho: Harry Perry
Ed: E. Lloyd Sheldon
Prod Co.: Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation
Cast: Clara Bow, Charles Rogers, Richard Arlen, Jobyna Ralston, Gary Cooper
USA / 1927 / B&W / DCP / Silent / Eng Intertitles / 144min
Championed as the last great silent film, William Wellman's aviation epic tells a simple story of love, friendship and rivalry set against the thrilling backdrop of the First World War. Shot for a staggering US $2 million, Wings was a box office sensation that dazzled with its technical innovation and unprecedented spectacle.
Filmed less than a decade after the end of the Great War, Wings is lighter in tone than many of its contemporaries, focusing on heroism and camaraderie, rather than the senseless brutality of the conflict. Also, Hollywood "It" girl Clara Bow snags top billing in an otherwise male-dominated genre - a late addition by nervous producers desperate to ensure Wings was a success.
Wings set a new precedent by collaborating with the US Air Force, which supposedly pumped US $15 million of military aid into the production, making it easily the most expensive film of all time by today's standards. Wellman also gave actor Charles "Buddy" Rogers flying lessons and hired war pilot Richard Arlen, ensuring both his leads could be filmed while flying, adding an extra layer of realism to the film's incredible aerial sequences.
Despite touring the country for two years and claiming the first ever Best Picture Oscar, Wings was long thought lost in the modern era, until a print was unearthed in the Cinémath que française in Paris. In 2012, Paramount Pictures oversaw a meticulous restoration, including a complete overhaul of the film's soundtrack, so future generations could enjoy Wellman's epic vision. The scenes using the stencil color technique known as the Handschiegl process were also recreated for the restored version.
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
Post-screening talk with Ka Ming
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