When chosen to direct Wings—in part due to his experience at the front—Wellman was still relatively unknown, yet undaunted and unrestrained in executing his bold vision: from recreating French battlefields and villages in San Antonio, to enlisting the military and the most skilled aerial stuntmen, to color tinting every burst of fire on the film prints. Wings tells the story of romantic rivals Jack and David, who enlist in the Army Air Corps when World War I breaks out. Added into the wartime mix is the film’s one superstar, "It Girl" Clara Bow, as the ambulance-driving Mary, who is secretly in love with Jack. The war alters their relationships as drama unfolds both on the ground and—most spectacularly—in the air. Wellman created unbelievably realistic and daring aerial battle scenes, insisting upon attaching cameras to the planes and actors actually piloting them. Premiering three months after Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, Wings won the first Best Picture Oscar and inaugurated the entire airplane movie genre.
Live Musical Accompaniment by Bertrand Laurence