Wings (found Oscar-winning silent drama film; 1927)

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WingsAcmePoster.jpg

A poster for the film, advertising Clara Bow as the main star for the film.

Status: Found

Date found: 1992

Found by: Cinémathèque Française

Wings is a 1927 silent romantic-drama film directed by William A. Wellman & Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast. The film is notable for being the very first film to win the Academy Award for Outstanding Picture (now called Best Picture), making it one of 2 silent (or mostly silent, as The Artist is a part-talkie) films to win the award, alongside The Artist (2011).[1]

Production

The movie production used about 300 pilots for its aerial combat scenes. Thomas-Morse MB-3s were primarily used for these sequences. These took quite some time to film, as the conditions needed to be ideal for filming. On one occasion, the filming team had to wait on filming for 18 days just to film. Overall, the film took about 9 months to shoot, compared to a little more than a month for other movies of the time. Clara Bow wasn't too pleased playing in the film, despite being one of the selling points, remarking "Wings is...a man's picture and I'm just the whipped cream on top of the pie".

Release and Reception

The movie premiered at the Criterion Theater in New York on August 12, 1927, and would be shown for 63 weeks, before moving down to other communities. Like The Birth of a Nation, prints of the movie were dyed a certain color for a certain mood, which is known as color tinting. Some scenes also used Magnascope, to which the image was at 1.85:1 compared to the usual 1.33:1.

The movie garnered major amounts of critical acclaim, and also from the Air Corps who supervised the film. Part of its success came from the realism and technical skill, even with a surface level plot. Gene Brown described the movie, in his review, as An Aviation Picnic. The movie won the Academy Award for Outstanding Picture for the years of 1927/1928, one of the grand two awards, with Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans winning the other grand award for Unique and Artistic Picture.

Rediscovery and Home Media

Despite all the praise the movie got & the awards, the movie ended up being lost. However, in 1992, a print of the movie was discovered in the Cinémathèque Française archive. It was quickly transferred from Nitrocellulose {[C6H7(NO2)3O5]n} film to cellulose acetate film, better known as safety film. In 1997, it was added to the Library of Congress for "historical, cultural, or aesthetic significance". Since then, some cinemas have re-screened the film for its 85th & 90th anniversary in 2012 and 2017 respectively.

Somehow, the movie was released on VHS in 1989, although Wikipedia says it was released in 1996. The movie was, though, released on DVD & Blu-ray on January 24th, 2012, which gives it the record for the longest time for the best picture winner to get released on DVD. This contained a "meticulously restored" version of the film, which contained a re-performance of the film's score & sound effects. Apparently, while it wasn't released on the day of Paramount's 100th anniversary, it could have been released to celebrate it. The Blu-Ray & DVD were re-issued in 2013, for unknown reasons, and on October 24th, 2017 to commemorate the film's 90th anniversary.

Reference