Action! Aerial daredevilry! Romance! Intrigue!
You wanna see how the heat builds when two American flyboys head to France to give their all in World War I, and leave behind the gal that both of them ardently desire?
You gotta watch Wings, the $2 million extravaganza that pulled in the crowds and grabbed the first Oscar for Best Picture—in 1929.
Wings also won the first Academy Award for Best Engineering Effects. I imagine that was for the stunningly obvious jerky "dogfighting" of crude model planes dangling around each other in front of a not-too-convincing “sky” backdrop.
You probably want to know these names: Richard Arlen and Charles “Buddy” Rogers played the two air aces, and Clara Bow was the lady in question—she was in love with Arlen, but, sadly, committed to Rogers. These things happen in war.
You have to watch the movie to find out which one of the sky jockeys went down in flames.
So. About 250 people turned out for the awards ceremony. The winners were announced prior to the event (the sealed envelope surprises didn’t start until 1942). Of course, it wasn’t televised, because television hadn’t arrived yet. There was no standup comedian emcee, and I’m just guessing that there was no Beyoncé-style entertainment, and probably not too many daring necklines….
Oh yeah, one other thing: Wings is a silent movie. The Jazz Singer, one of the first “talkies,” had already made its debut, but “talkies” weren’t allowed in the 1929 Oscar competition.
You make your own decision about whether all this was the good old days.
p.s. Gary Cooper appeared in Wings as Cadet White, it was one of his early films
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.