A Century of Movies at the Alamo: Wings (1927) April 17 at 6pm

Submitted by abertin

Hi, Northeast Historic Film blog readers! This month, to get you excited about Wings (1927), the next film in our A Century of Movies at the Alamo series, we have an extra special guest blog post from our projectionist extraordinaire, the one, the only, Phil Yates! You’ve seen him wearing his Northeast Historic Film shirt around town. You’ve seen him ripping tickets at the Alamo. Now, you get to hear his thoughts on Wings!

Before we get to that though, I wanted to say a few words about Paul Sullivan, who is going to be joining us to provide live accompaniment for the screening. Paul is a fairly local guy. He hails from Brooklin and is a long-time friend of both Northeast Historic Film and the Alamo Theatre. His style blends classical and jazz music, so it’s just perfect for Wings and we couldn’t be more excited that he agreed to help us celebrate the Alamo’s birthday. Oh, yeah, one more thing – he’s a Grammy winner – so that’s pretty cool. In all seriousness, Paul is a wonderful musician and an even more wonderful guy. If you aren’t already familiar with him or his music, you are truly in for a treat.

Without further ado, here are the words of Phil Yates, Alamo Projectionist Extraordinaire and all-around solver of all of NHF’s technical problems:

“Showing at the Alamo Theatre 17 April 2016 is a 1927 photoplay titled Wings, directed by William A. Wellman. This film is noted as the first Academy Award winner for Best Picture and to that I say, “Somebody had to be first”. The other two nominees were 7th Heaven and The Racket. That being said, this is a great show. It has all the factors that make this World War I epic great entertainment: a big budget, action, thrills, romance, and, of course, a historic event. This formula still applies to Hollywood’s epic successes of today.

Notable actors appearing in this picture are: Clara Bow (obviously the box office draw), Charles “Buddy” Rogers (a good actor with a short film career which pretty much ended in the 1940s), Richard Arlen (a good actor with a lengthy film career that lasted into the 1970s), Gary Cooper (this is noted in many places as the film that launched his career, but if his career was dependent on this launching he would still be selling popcorn at a concession stand. Most of the audience members have more screen time in their life than Cooper had in this film), and El Brendel (El is a great addition to this picture as he gives us a bit of patriotic humor throughout the show which helps make it all real. He gets my vote for at least an honorable mention. His career lasted into the 1960s).

It starts off with the typical girl next door who loves the boy next door who loves the rich girl down the street who loves the rich boy further down the street. It had to start somewhere and this was a good place to bring Bow’s talents to life. I have to confess that I found the first 20 minutes to be a little over dramatic, but suspect this was to help the audience realize what is left behind when one goes off to war: friends, family, the comfort of home, etcetera. Throughout the remainder of this presentation, it has everything (and more) you expect to find in a great show.

World War 1 is declared and Jack and David, played by Rogers and Arlen respectively, sign up for aviation school. Mary, played by Bow, signs on with the Women’s Motor Corps. With training completed, everyone is shipped overseas to join the war effort. Midway through the picture we join the men for a little R&R (rest and recreation) in Paris, which is a pleasant break to lighten the mood before the “Big Push” to win the war. The remainder of the film is spent fighting the war and reminding us that “in order to win, you have to lose as well”.

This show was mostly filmed in Texas with a little spill over into Arizona. The flying sequences and air battles in this picture are 100% real, using the Army Air Corps and Hollywood stuntmen. Later films would use miniatures, optical printing, and rear projection to create similar special effects. It took 200 plus airplanes and 300 plus pilots to complete the action scenes in this picture.

All the notable actors in this film do an excellent job of performing, but if any one of them had been singled out to carry this film on their own, it would have failed. It is the combined effort of the headliners and “B”-actors that make the show a success. This film has the unique ability to take you to another place and time without you even realizing it. As you sit watching the show “The End” appears on the screen, the lights come up, and at that moment, you realize you’re not in 1917, you are at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport, Maine and it’s 2016.”

Come out to the Alamo Theatre on Sunday, April 17th at 6pm to watch Wings (1927). Phil will definitely know if you aren’t there. This screening is in memory of Katherine E. Marshall and the first movie she ever saw. Tickets at the door: $5 or FREE for Members and Century Donors. Doors open at 5:30pm.