1927’s Wings was the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. At that first ceremony though there were two categories which were seen as the top award of the night. Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans won Unique and Artistic Production while Wings won Outstanding Picture. The former category was dropped the following year and Outstanding Picture was renamed Best Picture with Wings retroactively considered the overall winner. This seems unfair on Sunrise which in my view is a far superior film which is why I have included it on my Oscar Challenge page.
But back to the matter in hand which is the film Wings. The movie blends elements from a number of genres including action and comedy but is centrally a romantic drama. I say this despite lead actress Clara Bow’s statement that the film was “A man’s picture” in which she played the cream on top of the pie. For me the film is deeper than purely “A man’s picture” and has a highly engaging story about feuding rivals and unrequited love set against the backdrop of the First World War. As America enters the war in 1917 it calls its men to arms and Jack Powell (Charles ‘Buddy’ Rodgers) and David Armstrong (Richard Arlen) answer the call to join the fledgling Air Service. Both men are in love with Sylvia (Jobyna Ralston) and vie for her affections. She only has eyes for David. Meanwhile Jack’s beautiful neighbour Mary Preston (Clara Bow) is madly in love with Jack but he barely notices her and the feelings are in no way reciprocated. While in France the two men become friends and forget their feud but their love for the same woman remains as an undercurrent of their friendship.