In 1927, the first Best Picture Oscar went to WINGS, a thrilling silent WW1 drama from director William S. Wellman. WINGS told the story of poor boy Jack (Charles Rogers) and rich boy David (Richard Arlen) who are in love with the same woman, which causes the two to become bitter enemies. When WW1 breaks out the two are thrown together and quickly become friends, although David is too nice to let Jack know that the girl back home doesn’t love him. Clara Bow plays the girl who is madly in love with Jack but he’s too blind to see it. It’s rather sad that this film is basically only remembered for winning the first Best Picture Oscar because it’s an incredible film from start to finish. The action stunts are incredible to watch and the scenes in the sky are just as thrilling. The majority of the 139-minute running time is all the action and there’s never a dull moment. One has to imagine what it was like making a film like this in 1926-27. Cameras were massive, heavy and hand-cranked. Consider this when viewing this amazing film’s flying sequences. Both Rogers and Arlen are terrific in their roles and never miss a beat. Bow steals the film as the playful girl in love with Jack. The way Bow moves has enough sexual energy that you can’t help but be fixated on everything she does. Her “nude” scene in front of the mirror is certainly among the highlights of the film. Henry B. Walthall appears briefly as David’s father and Gary Cooper has a very impressive, if short, role. Also worth mentioning is the greatly comical scene involving the champagne bubbles. In the end this is another shining example of the mastery of silent cinema and just more proof that you don’t need a computer to make great action scenes. Now lucky St. Louis silent film fans will have the opportunity to see WINGS on the big screen accompanied by live organ music.
The one-of-a-kind event takes place Sunday afternoon, March 8th, at 2:00 PM, when the St. Louis Theatre Organ Society will be a sponsoring the showing of WINGS. Dr. Marvin Faulwell will play his original score on the 4/53 recently restored Kimball Organ in its original installation at the St. Louis Scottish Rite Cathedral Auditorium. Admission is FREE, but donations will be accepted and highly appreciated. Proceeds will be shared by SLTOS and The Walker Scottish Rite Clinic for Children.
Parking is available in the Rite’s garage behind the building (off Olive Street) for $10.00, so carpooling to the theatre would make sense. The only access to the Scottish Rite is a walkway from the third level of the garage.
The St. Louis Theatre Organ Society (SLTOS) was formed in 1962 as a chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. They were the 15th chapter of the national organization, and although small in numbers, they are still active in the metro area. A large part of their purpose is the recognition and preservation of the unique instruments and style of music known as Theatre Organ. SLTOS owns, maintains, and plays the organ on the third floor lobby of the Fabulous Fox Theatre on a volunteer basis to spread the joy of the music to the community. The organization also owns the Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the City Museum in downtown St. Louis.
Admission: Donations accepted for the benefit of St. Louis Theatre Organ Society (501c3) and the Walker Scottish Rite Clinic for Children (501c3). ( http://www.srclinic.org/)