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June 16, 2024

Vintage Photos of Clara Bow During the Filming of ‘Wings’ (1927)

Wings is a 1927 American silent and synchronized sound film known for winning the first Academy Award for Best Picture. Due to the general public’s apathy towards silent films, the film was quickly re-released in 1928 with synchronized sound. While the sound version of the film has no audible dialogue, it was released with a synchronized musical score with sound effects.

The film stars Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, and Richard Arlen. Rogers and Arlen portray World War I combat pilots in a romantic rivalry over a woman. It was produced by Lucien Hubbard, directed by William A. Wellman, and released by Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation. Gary Cooper appears in a small role, which helped launch his career in Hollywood.

The film, a romantic action-war picture, was rewritten by scriptwriters Hope Loring and Louis D. Lighton from a story by John Monk Saunders to accommodate Bow, Paramount’s biggest star at the time. Wellman was hired, as he was the only director in Hollywood at the time who had World War I combat pilot experience, although Richard Arlen and John Monk Saunders had also served in the war as military aviators. Hundreds of extras and some 300 pilots were involved in the filming, including pilots and planes of the United States Army Air Corps which were brought in for the filming and to provide assistance and supervision.

Acclaimed for its technical prowess and realism upon release, the film became the yardstick against which future aviation films were measured, mainly because of its realistic air-combat sequences. It went on to win the inaugural Academy Award for Outstanding Picture at the first Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award ceremony in 1929, the only fully silent film to do so. It also won the Academy Award for Best Engineering Effects (Roy Pomeroy).

In 1997, Wings was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The film entered the public domain in the United States in 2023.

These vintage photos captured portraits of Clara Bow during the filming Wings in 1927.


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