:: Saturday, January 04, 2003 ::
Set in the Great War, Wings is a movie about how America punched its way over to Europe and kicked everybody's butt. Note to Europe: we still have our old maps on file, in case you get any funny ideas.
Jack Powell is an all-American young lad who likes to lie in the grass when he's not working on his hot rod. Mary Preston has a big crush on him, if he would only care to notice. She paints a shooting star on his car, and Jack is all 'yeah, whatever.'
Jack has the hots for Sylvia Lewis. Real bad hots -- like interrupt her date with David Armstrong to take her for a spin in the Shooting Star kind of hots.
By now you're thinking: I thought I rented a war movie. Where is the freakin' war? Well it's here: the Army comes to town and everyone enlists in flight school.
Ah the golden age of diversity. Anyway, the film takes a break while everybody says farewell to their families and reports for basic. Sylvia declares her love for David on the back of a photograph she puts in a locket. Jack drops by and nicks the locket, mistakenly thinking it's for him. Oh I get it: it's a romantic war comedy. This film has everything.
Mary drops by to give Jack a lucky photograph of herself. That'll earn her a shaken hand. Poor Mary!
David would like to say a tearful farewell to his family, but trees don't cry. He heads off, not forgetting to take along his favorite childhood toy. He's ready to cry havoc and let slip the teddy-bears of war!
Welcome to Flight Training lads! First we're going to spin you around, teach you how to shoot machineguns, give you lots of PT and finally let you all bash each other silly. If there's a better way to make fighter pilots, I've never heard of it.
Rivals for the affection of the fair Sylvia, Jack and David aren't exactly best buddies. Not until they really pound the stuffing out of each other do they become good friends. The Army is weird like that. And mind glove there Jack!
Meanwhile Mary wants to join the party. Sorry, the Army doesn't isn't taking lady fighter pilots for another sixty years. But they are taking ambulance drivers (ask Ernest Hemingway).
Gary Cooper drops by to get killed in a horrible training crash. It's not really worth mentioning, but for that remarkable AoD meme: Yanks distributing Hershey Bars.
With their training complete, Jack and David deploy to Europe, where Jack unleashes a bon mot which hasn't aged especially well.
Don't worry Jack, just wait til you get to Paris. You will, you will. In the meantime, you're on Dawn Patrol.
Now we get to the heart of the picture -- the stuff you've been waiting for. The flying combat scenes are really amazing. Especially because -- but for the fake bullets and blood -- this is completely real: real planes, real maneuvering and real crashes (well okay, they used models for the midair collision). There's only one special effect: when a plane catches fire it pops off a smoke pot and someone in post production paints fakey-looking flames underneath the plane. The flames detract and ought to have been omitted.
Jack's plane is hit, and he loses oil pressure. So he forces a landing and escapes to the British lines.
Meanwhile Mary's on the scene in her red cross ambulance (and fetching uniform). First thing she does is plow into a pedestrian (crazy lady driver!). He's okay, but no dummy! He plays sick for a little Florence Nightingale TLC.
Mary continues into town to deliver flu shots. Everyone in town has already got the warning: a mighty Goltha bomber is overhead. Mary finds the town deserted, a fact which strikes her as puzzling (ditzy broad!).
Bombs away! Mary hides under her ambulance and survives. But what about the flu shots? Oh the carnage!
Jack and David to the rescue! David shoots down half the fighter escort while Jack takes on the bomber. Folks this film is worth seeing for this scene alone. Look how close they were flying!
That hot flying's worth a couple of medals. And decorations are nice, but the sloppy French kissing? You can see David could do without.
At least they can take leave and visit Paris. And since they are American they ride into town on horseback and start a couple of bar fights. You show'em guys!
Mary's in Paris, too -- looking for some time alone with Jack. It's too bad he's too busy chatting up the Parisian dames and getting smashed on the French bubbly. He's so Champagne-goggled he doesn't even recognize her.
But he does have eyes for David! This film is getting a little too buddy-cop for its own good.
Getting desperate, Mary changes into a dancing-girl's uniform. Jack's only human, and he makes it as far as Mary's bedroom before passing out.
When Mary begins to tuck Jack into bed she notices his lucky locket. So that must be where he put her photograph! When she opens up the locket she is not amused.
In a snit, she decides not to tell him that his leave was recently cancelled (because of the upcoming big push). While changing back into her ambulance driver's uniform she gets busted by the MPs. No more driving for Mary!
The big push is on! Jack can't wait to take on the Heinies, but David has a bad feeling about this. Worse, he leaves his lucky fighting-teddy bear behind. This film even has its own spoiler alerts!
Yes, David gets shot down. And a bunch of Heinie soldiers think they've killed him. David is wounded, but don't count him out yet...
Jack is utterly distraught at the apparent loss of David. The next day, he takes on the job of winning the war single-handedly! Wow is that ever close air support!
David sneaks over to a Heinie Aerodrome and steals a Heinie plane. He's this close to freedom, but Jack isn't finished killing Heinies today... "Jack, please don't shoot me!"
It's a pity these planes don't have radios. Then we could have avoided this little misunderstanding between best friends...
Jack lands to collect a souvenir, and is horrified at his handiwork. At this point, the movie gets so mawkish, it's creepy. This is the gayest (modern usage) death scene on film.
That is not the brotherhood of arms. Not male bonding. What other word is there to call it?
Anyway, since Jack personally won the war (and resolved the faux love triangle) he comes home a hero. The town throws him a parade.
Jack stops to return David's teddy bear to his parents (and apologize). They don't seem too upset.
The film concludes with the reunion of Jack and Mary. They meet cute and drive around the town in the Shooting Star
Too bad the car hasn't a backseat (we see Jack remove it at the beginning of the film). Well it is a 1927 film, for crying out loud!
Wings is an epic film. I'm only poking fun at it because this is a web log which reviews movies for their cheesiness. To be sure, Wings has cheese, but it has everything else too. It's a darn fine war movie with action, romance, comedy and some of the best flying combat ever.
Two Ears Up!
:: Anna 6:01 PM [+] ::