Starring: Clara Bow, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Richard Arlen
Plot: Jack works on his sports car and dreams of flying. His neighbor Mary is in love with him but he seems not to notice, having been smitten by the fair Sylvia, but he can’t see that Sylvia has eyes only for David. The distant drums of war beckon, and Jack and David train to be pilots in the American Expeditionary Corp. Their rivalry soon evolves into camaraderie as they do aerial battle with the Germans in the skies over France. Meanwhile Mary has joined the Women’s Motor Corp and despairs that Jack still doesn’t notice her.
Famous for winning the first ever Academy Award for best film. Spectacular aerial photography highlights the terrific performances of the three leads and director William Wellman creates a solid and moving anti-war statement as he shows us the brutality and stupidity of war, its waste of youth, and its power to destroy the lives of all involved.
Wellman’s direction and the camera work of Harry Perry are beyond perfection. The aerial battles are breathtaking as are the scenes where they blow up the German blimps. There’s also one astounding scene in the beginning of the film where Ralston and Arlen are in a swing. The camera is mounted in a stationary position in front of the actors so we see the scene as though we are in the swing with them. Then suddenly in the background we see Rogers in his jalopy pulling up in the street. The swing stops and Ralston gets out and runs to Rogers (in the background) while we see the close-up of Arlen as he twists in the swing seat and turns to watch them. It’s an amazing scene and all one shot.