For Reel


Wings (1927)
June 30, 2012, 12:16 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William A. Wellman

The first winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture is also one of the most characteristically Hollywood pictures ever made, remembered almost exclusively for its scale, whereas the better artistic achievements of its time (The Crowd, Sunrise, The Last Command, and Seventh Heaven) have rightfully proved to be the more lasting efforts of the silent era. That isn’t to say that it’s a particularly bad film – in fact, it is a touchstone “event” movie, providing all of the entertainment that one would expect of its breed. Director William A. Wellman, whose stride would truly come in the early years of talkies, barrages the audience with manic tonal shifts, showing equal propensity for orchestrating set pieces involving both “gee whiz” small-town romance and high-stakes thrills in order to broaden the appeal to the widest possible base. The picture is so full, in fact, that therein lies its few failures – at just under three hours, it well overstays its welcome, suffering from tremendous pacing issues that involve star Clara Bow being rendered obsolete for long periods of time (in fact, the relationship between Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen is the far superior romance of the picture). While the aviation scenes continue to amaze, King Vidor’s The Big Parade provided a comparable spectacle with a more harrowing emotional journey to accompany it.

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