ELTC and The Cape May Film Society Present WINGS and THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY
"Wings," shown on June 22 at 8:30p.m., is the first of ELTC's and The Cape May Film Society's "Sunday Film Series" with the theme "Pilots and Pirates." The other "Pilot" film is "The High and the Mighty" on June 29 and both are directed by William Wellman. The "Pilot" films are "The Crimson Pirate" and "The Black Pirate" on August 3 and 10 at 8:30p.m. In the fall, on October 19 at 8:00p.m., the final day of the Cape May Film Festival, it's an evening of spooky classic silent short films.
"Wings" (1927) stars Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, and Richard Arlen, with Gary Cooper appearing in a small role that launched his film career. Winner of the first Oscar for Best Film, "Wings" is shown with live organ accompaniment provided by Wayne Zimmerman. The plot involves Jack and David in love with the same woman, Sylvia. When the United States enters World War I, the two men enlist in the Army Air Corps. Rivals when they start basic training, they become friends, and in Paris encounter another hometown gal, Mary Preston, who is an ambulance driver.
Paramount hired Wellman to direct "Wings" partially because he had World War I combat pilot experience. With a budget of $2 million, it was shot on location at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas between September 7, 1926 and April 7, 1927. Hundreds of background actors and 300 pilots were involved in the film, including pilots and planes of the United States Army Air Corps. Wellman extensively rehearsed the scenes for the Battle of Saint-Mihiel over ten days, involving 3,500 soldiers on the ground, and more pilots in the air. Acclaimed for its technical details and realistic air combat sequences, "Wings" set the bar by which future aviation films were measured.
Providing his own original musical accompaniment is Wayne Zimmerman, marking his third year of playing for ELTC's silent film series. He has played in a variety of venues from coast-to-coast and in Hawaii, regaling audiences with his silent film accompaniment and concerts. At varying times he's served as organist at the Lansdowne Theatre in Lansdowne, PA, the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, PA, the Brookline Theatre in Havertown, PA, and the Merlin Theatre in suburban Philadelphia. Currently he is president of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society.
"The High and the Mighty," about a routine flight that encounters engine trouble, was filmed mostly inside a plane, with John Wayne and Robert Stack in the cockpit. Initially budgeted for $1.32 million, it cost $1.47 million. Nominated for several Academy Awards in 1954, Dimitri Tiomkin was the only winner, garnering Best Film Score. Jan Sterling won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Tickets for "Wings" are $15, and for "The High and the Mighty," $10, with ages 12 and under free. The location is The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, 500 Hughes St., where ELTC is in residence. For reservations and information, contact ELTC at 609-884-5898 or online at www.eastlynnetheater.org.
Meanwhile, the 1922 comedy/drama, "The First Fifty Years" by Henry Myers, about a marriage from just after the honeymoon to the Golden Anniversary, is still playing through July 19, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:30p.m., except there's no show on July 4, and an added show on Sunday, July 6.