Men with Wings (1938)

102 or 105 mins | Drama | October 1938

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writer:

Robert Carson

Producer:

William A. Wellman

Cinematographer:

W. Howard Greene

Editor:

Thomas Scott

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Robert Odell

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

A 1936 LAT news item announced that Jeff Lazarus, head of the Paramount editorial staff, came up with the idea for this film, and noted that Donald Douglas of the Douglas Aircraft Company would act as technical advisor. Further, the LAT article noted that Paramount hoped to enlist the help of Charles Lindbergh. The contributions of Lazarus, Douglas and Lindbergh to the final film have not been confirmed. A pre-production news item in HR noted that Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were originally considered for leading roles. LAT reported the following cast assignments for this film: Carole Lombard, George Raft, Frances Farmer, Sir Guy Standing, Akim Tamiroff and Jackie Moran. None of these actors, however, appeared in the final film. NYT notes that twenty stunt pilots, all members of the Association of Motion Picture Pilots, were paid fifty dollars per day to fly in this production. The pilots listed above were the only names credited in contemporary sources. An article in NYT claims that Dr. Irving Krick, Professor of Aeronautics at Cal Tech, was hired by Paramount to detect weather conditions and in particular, to find clouds. The plot synopsis in the pressbook ends with "Pat" returning from China for the company anniversary celebration. After he sees "Scott," "Peggy" and "Patricia" together, he sacrifices his own happiness for theirs, and leaves unnoticed. According to an article in NYT, Paramount rewrote the end of the film at the request of the U.S. government, in order to "eliminate the note of pacifism on which the picture had intended to end." The article notes ...

More Less

A 1936 LAT news item announced that Jeff Lazarus, head of the Paramount editorial staff, came up with the idea for this film, and noted that Donald Douglas of the Douglas Aircraft Company would act as technical advisor. Further, the LAT article noted that Paramount hoped to enlist the help of Charles Lindbergh. The contributions of Lazarus, Douglas and Lindbergh to the final film have not been confirmed. A pre-production news item in HR noted that Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were originally considered for leading roles. LAT reported the following cast assignments for this film: Carole Lombard, George Raft, Frances Farmer, Sir Guy Standing, Akim Tamiroff and Jackie Moran. None of these actors, however, appeared in the final film. NYT notes that twenty stunt pilots, all members of the Association of Motion Picture Pilots, were paid fifty dollars per day to fly in this production. The pilots listed above were the only names credited in contemporary sources. An article in NYT claims that Dr. Irving Krick, Professor of Aeronautics at Cal Tech, was hired by Paramount to detect weather conditions and in particular, to find clouds. The plot synopsis in the pressbook ends with "Pat" returning from China for the company anniversary celebration. After he sees "Scott," "Peggy" and "Patricia" together, he sacrifices his own happiness for theirs, and leaves unnoticed. According to an article in NYT, Paramount rewrote the end of the film at the request of the U.S. government, in order to "eliminate the note of pacifism on which the picture had intended to end." The article notes that at the celebration, Peggy speaks against the use of airplanes for the purposes of war. Modern sources dispute that the government was involved in the decision. The press book notes that pilot and technical advisor Paul Mantz was also technical advisor to Amelia Earhart. The pressbook, contemporary news items and modern sources list the planes that were collected for use in this film as follows: Fokker D. VII, DeHavilland-Liberty, Hispano-Suiza Spad, Nieuport, Phalz D. XII, Thomas-Morse Scout, British S.E.V., J5 Lockheed and others. According to an ad in MPH, the film's budget was over $2,000,000. Special screenings included a premiere in Times Square, during which several pilots received "Men with Wings" awards, and a screening in Fort Wayne, IN on Armistice Day. The Film Guide lists the following California shooting locations: Canoga Park; Calabasas; Metropolitan Airport in Van Nuys; California National Guard Airport at Griffith Park in Glendale; Union Air Terminal, Burbank; Hangar 5 at Los Angeles Municipal Airport; Highland Park; Port Hueneme; Saugus; Mojave Desert; Imperial Valley; San Diego; and Santa Barbara. Modern sources note that the film was in production for nine months, four months of which were used to shoot the flying scenes. Modern sources claim that Wellman's 1958 film Lafayette Escadrille used footage from Men with Wings.

Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1938
p. 3
Film Daily
24 Oct 1938
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1937
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1938
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1938
p. 3
International Photographer
1 Oct 1938
pp. 10-11
Life
10 Oct 1938
pp. 30-32
Los Angeles Times
10-Nov-36
---
Motion Picture Daily
21 Oct 1938
p. 5
Motion Picture Herald
11 Jun 1938
p. 48
Motion Picture Herald
16 Jul 1938
pp. 38-39
Motion Picture Herald
29 Oct 1938
p. 40
New York Times
27 Oct 1938
p. 27
New York Times
11-Dec-38
---
Variety
26 Oct 1938
p. 13
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Richard Stanley
Dell Henderson
Claire Du Brey
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A William A. Wellman Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Joseph Youngerman
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Wilfrid Cline
Aerial photog
Aerial photog
Process photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus score
Mus score
SOUND
Gene Merritt
Sd rec
Sd rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Dir secy and research
Research
Mechanic
Jim Barton
Mechanic
STAND INS
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
COLOR PERSONNEL
Color art dir for the Technicolor Co
Assoc
Tech
SOURCES
SONGS
"Men with Wings," music and lyrics by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1938
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 16 Jul 1938
Production Date:
began 9 May 1938; add'l scenes Sep 1938
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
20 October 1938
LP8386
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
102 or 105
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4259
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Reporter Nicholas Ranson is jubilant when, on 17 Dec 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright take their first airplane flight. Back home in Underwood, Maryland, however, his uncle Hiram F. Jenkins, owner and editor of the local newspaper, refuses to print the story. Nicholas quits and continues to work on his own airplane, with the devoted help of his little daughter Peggy. Peggy is actually the first in her family to fly when her friends, Patrick Falconer and Scott Barnes, induce her to get inside a large kite they have made, and run with it in a field until she is airborne. The kite is caught in a tree, however, and Peggy gets a black eye. Later, Nicholas dies when his experimental airplane crashes, leaving his wife and children alone. By Peggy's adulthood, planes are capable of flying at an altitude of 11,000 feet, and speeds of nearly 100 m.p.h. Peggy continues her father's obsession with flight by helping Scott and Pat to build a plane. Airplane manufacturer J. A. Nolan hires Scott to design plans and Pat to build them. The three aviation pioneers finally quit their jobs as reporters when Uncle Hiram decides to overshadow their breaking of the current speed record with news of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Pat becomes bored by regular work, however, and is fired for instigating a fight. He enlists in the Army Air Corps, which is fighting in France. Peggy's love for the headstrong and unreliable Pat grows, but during his absence, she relies heavily on the friendship of Scott, who is in love with her. Peggy joins ...

More Less

Reporter Nicholas Ranson is jubilant when, on 17 Dec 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright take their first airplane flight. Back home in Underwood, Maryland, however, his uncle Hiram F. Jenkins, owner and editor of the local newspaper, refuses to print the story. Nicholas quits and continues to work on his own airplane, with the devoted help of his little daughter Peggy. Peggy is actually the first in her family to fly when her friends, Patrick Falconer and Scott Barnes, induce her to get inside a large kite they have made, and run with it in a field until she is airborne. The kite is caught in a tree, however, and Peggy gets a black eye. Later, Nicholas dies when his experimental airplane crashes, leaving his wife and children alone. By Peggy's adulthood, planes are capable of flying at an altitude of 11,000 feet, and speeds of nearly 100 m.p.h. Peggy continues her father's obsession with flight by helping Scott and Pat to build a plane. Airplane manufacturer J. A. Nolan hires Scott to design plans and Pat to build them. The three aviation pioneers finally quit their jobs as reporters when Uncle Hiram decides to overshadow their breaking of the current speed record with news of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Pat becomes bored by regular work, however, and is fired for instigating a fight. He enlists in the Army Air Corps, which is fighting in France. Peggy's love for the headstrong and unreliable Pat grows, but during his absence, she relies heavily on the friendship of Scott, who is in love with her. Peggy joins the war effort and is sent to France, where she is reunited with Pat, who is a decorated hero, and by Armistice Day, they are married. Enlisted by the Army, Scott continues to build better planes, helped by mechanic Joe Gibbs and, when risking his life testing one of them, breaks his legs. Still in two casts, he leaves the hospital early and sneaks back to perform some additional test flying of the rebuilt airplane. Scott is transferred by the Army to pilot mail between New York and Washington, D.C. Pat and a pregnant Peggy return home upon the death of his father. Bored and restless, Pat moves to New York. After Peggy gives birth, Pat joins up to fight a war in Morocco with some old flying buddies, without saying goodbye to his wife, and asks Scott to take care of his family. On the day that Scott completes the first non-stop transcontinental mail flight from New York to San Francisco, an injured Pat singlehandedly wins the war in Morocco and steals the headline in Uncle Hiram's paper. Pat returns home with a lame leg and, with the help of Scott, founds Falconer Airplanes, Inc. in California. After five years, Pat again becomes restless and is determined to break a world's record by flying non-stop from New York to Paris. Although Scott adapts a new plane for him, Pat resists learning the new technology and begins the flight from California without proper knowledge of the plane's instrumentation. He misses the New York landing and, as he runs out of fuel, crashes in the ocean. Fortunately, Scott and Joe rescue Pat just before his plane sinks, and they return to the airfield as Charles Lindbergh is departing for Paris in his "Spirit of St. Louis." The Depression hits the airline manufacturing business hard, and as Pat has suddenly left for China, Peggy offers financial assistance so Scott can keep one hangar open to build a new military airplane. Soon, Uncle Hiram and his assistant, Hank, also donate their savings after having sold the newspaper. Scott finally test flies his plane against the standard Army biplanes and outflies them, clearly making every other type of military plane obsolete. In 1938, Pat dies during aerial combat on his last mission in China, and Scott brings news of his death to Peggy on the eve of the "Falconer Bomber's" fifth anniversary. Peggy stoically attends the elegant anniversary banquet, and after Scott is honored for his achievements, she eulogizes Pat.

Less

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.