16 May 1929

“Wings” poster (Paramount Pictures)

16 May 1929: In a ceremony at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood, California, U.S.A., “Wings,” a Paramount Pictures silent motion picture released in 1927 and directed by William A. Wellman, won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. It also won an award for Best Engineering Effects.

The silent movie about combat pilots of World War I, was filmed on location at Kelly Field, Texas, at a cost of $2,000.000. More than 300 pilots were involved, and 3,500 extras in the land battle scenes.

The leading actors in the film were Clara Bow, Charles (“Buddy”) Rogers, Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper.

Buddy Rogers, Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper in “Wings,” 1927. (Paramount Pictures)

William A. Wellman, the film’s director, was himself a combat pilot during World War I,  credited with three “kills” and five probables (perhaps as many as 9 enemy aircraft destroyed). He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with two palms.

“Wings” (1927) main title. (Paramount Pictures)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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4 thoughts on “16 May 1929

  1. The filming of the movie took over almost every military site in the San Antonio area. A number of scenes were filmed at Fort Sam Houston in the Quadrangle and the Battle of St. Mihiel was recreated at Camp Stanley, north of the city, on a 5 square mile plot. Troops from the Army’s 2nd Division provided the extras and the ground equipment. On the recently released DVD (2012) there is a special feature entitled “Wings: Grandeur in the Sky” that describes a lot regarding the film locations in San Antonio and other insights and trivia regarding production. Brooks Field, Fort Sam, and Kelly Field were among the military installations used for film locations or to base many of the aircraft employed in the film (out of town aircraft came from Selfridge, Crissy, and Langley Fields with balloons from Scott). Among the many pursuit or attack pilots assigned to filming was future Chief of Staff of the USAF, Hoyt Vandenberg. He flew Buddy Rogers’ aircraft. Also, future generals Frank Andrews, Hal George, and Earle Partridge. Among the notable stunt pilots were Paul Mantz and Dick Grace. Finally, one of the Nieuports on display at the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker flew in the movie.

  2. Éste filme fue una de las cosas que inspiró a mi padre hacerse piloto militar. Se graduó en 1943 y voló hasta 1988. Llegó a obtener el ala de Piloto Maestro. Siempre mencionaba al filme como algo grande que vio en las salas de cine de su niñez.

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