Wings of the Navy
|Wings of the Navy|
1939 Theatrical poster
|Directed by||Lloyd Bacon|
|Produced by||Louis F. Edelman|
|Written by||Michael Fessier|
Olivia de Havilland
|Music by||Heinz Roemheld|
|Edited by||George Amy|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|February 11, 1939|
Wings of the Navy is a 1939 American drama film directed by Lloyd Bacon, starring Olivia de Havilland and John Payne. Like many of the Warner Bros. features in the pre-World War II era, it was intended to serve as propaganda for the U.S. military and received heavy support from the U.S. Navy which also considered the film as a recruiting tool.
Submarine officer Jerry Harrington (John Payne) goes to Pensacola to train as a flying cadet, just like his legendary father and illustrious brother, longtime airman Cass Harrington (George Brent). Jerry ends up falling for his brother's girlfriend, Irene Dale (Olivia de Havilland), which only increases the competition between the two brothers. After Cass is seriously injured in a crash, he is forced to leave the Navy. Jerry becomes a pilot in San Diego and begins flying seaplanes while Cass designs a new fighter for the Navy. Jerry wants to prove to Cass that he is a better pilot, even if it means leaving the Navy to test the experimental fighter which has already led to the death of a test pilot. Irene is forced to choose which man she loves.
- George Brent as Cass Harrington
- Olivia de Havilland as Irene Dale
- John Payne as Jerry Harrington
- Frank McHugh as Scat Allen
- John Litel as Commander Clark
- Victor Jory as Lt. Parsons
- Henry O'Neill as Prologue Speaker
- John Ridgely as Dan Morrison
- John Gallaudet as Lt. Harry White
- Donald Briggs as Instructor
- Edgar Edwards as Ted Parsons
- Regis Toomey as First Flight Instructor
- Alberto Morin as Armando Costa (as Albert Morin)
- Jonathan Hale as Commandant
- Pierre Watkin as Capt. March
Wings of the Navy was filmed on location at the Naval Air Station on North Island in San Diego, California, and the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida and was dedicated to the U.S. Naval Aviation Service. The US Navy was heavily committed by providing access to aircraft and facilities with Lieutenant Commander Hugh Sease serving as the Technical Advisor to the production. Several of the latest US Navy types were on display including the Grumman F3F biplane fighter which played the role of an experimental fighter, and an early variant of the Consolidated PBY Catalina. Warner Brothers built a detailed mock-up of a Catalina cabin for interior flight shots.
George Brent, John Payne and Olivia de Havilland reprising their film roles, performed a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie on "Lux Radio Theater" broadcast on October 7, 1940.
Typical of other period Warner Bros. dramas, it was a propaganda when it was released early in 1939, before World War II had begun.
The most impressive aspect of the film was the flying sequences which a reviewer at The New York Times aptly reported was "As a documentary study of the Pensacola Naval Air Training station, and its methods of turning raw recruits into seasoned pilots of combat and bombing planes, "Wings of the Navy" gets off the ground very nimbly, and has a good deal of value, interest and even excitement, of the purely mechanical sort, to offer to the curious."
- "Wings of the Navy." allmovie.com. Retrieved: July 7, 2011.
- "The Screen: Audiences Learn About 'Wings of the Navy' at Strand." The New York Times, February 3, 1939. Retrieved: July 7, 2011.
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 42 (2): 38. Spring 2016.
- Hardwick, Jack and Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies." The Making of the Great Aviation Films. General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.
- Orriss, Bruce. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War II. Hawthorn, California: Aero Associates Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-9613088-0-X.