“ “Wings” is truly beautiful”*

*the late Penelope Gilliatt, writing in the New Yorker, 1971.

From: Chapter XXIII – August, One Summer – America 1927 (2013), by Bill Bryson:

It is a painful irony that silent movies were driven out of existence just as they were arriving at a kind of glorious summit of creativity and imagination, so that some of the best silent movies were also some of the last. Of no film was that more true than Wings, which opened on 12 August at the Criterion Theatre in New York, with a dedication to Charles Lindbergh.

The film was the conception of John Monk Saunders, a bright young man from Minnesota…In the early 1920s, Saunders met and became friends with the film producer Jesse Lasky…

Lasky’s choice for director was unexpected but inspired. William Wellman was thirty years old and had no experience of making big films…But he had one advantage over every other director in Hollywood: he was a First World War flying ace and intimately understood the beauty and enchantment of flight as well as the fearful mayhem of aerial combat…

Even the land-bound scenes were filmed with a thoughtfulness and originality that set Wings apart. To bring the viewer into a Parisian nightclub, Wellman used a boom shot in which the camera travelled through the room just above table height, skimming over drinks and between revellers, before arriving at the table of (Richard) Arlen and (Buddy) Rogers. It is an entrancing shot even now, but it was rivetingly novel in 1927…”

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