Winged Victory (film)

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Winged Victory
Film poster
Directed byGeorge Cukor
Written byMoss Hart
Based onWinged Victory
by Moss Hart
Produced byDarryl F. Zanuck
CinematographyGlen MacWilliams
Edited byBarbara McLean
Music by
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 22, 1944 (1944-12-22)
Running time
130 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.93 million (U.S. and Canada rentals)[1]

Winged Victory is a 1944 American drama film directed by George Cukor, a joint effort of 20th Century-Fox and the U.S. Army Air Forces.[2] Based upon the 1943 play of the same name by Moss Hart, who also wrote the screenplay, the film opened only after the play's theatre run. The film version of Winged Victory used many of the Broadway cast, who were brought to Hollywood.[3]


Frankie Davis, Allan Ross, and "Pinky" Scariano join the U.S. Army Air Forces with hopes of becoming pilots. In training, they befriend Irving Miller and Bobby Crills. The five friends go through the training process to become pilots, facing success, failure, and tragedy.

Allan, newly married, finds that wife Dorothy plans to go with him to aviation school. Frankie, whose hometown bride Jane is living with Dorothy near the camp, watches with concern as some of the other cadets receive "wash-out tickets". For now, he is safe.

Pinky washes out when he fails his eye test, but is classified a gunner and ships out for separate training. Frankie, Allan and their friends, Irving and Bobby are assigned to pilot training. During the cadets' first night flight, Frankie crashes. The group of friends, now one more short, are devastated. Allan volunteers to give tragic news to Jane, who is expecting their first child.

When the group wins their wings and are assigned to their units, Pinky is assigned to the same aircraft flown by Allan and Irving, and together with their five crew mates, they name their craft "Winged Victory." The next assignment is to join the fighting in the South Pacific, but before leaving they see their wives in San Francisco. In spite of trying trying to keep their assignment secret, the women guess their husbands are going to go into combat.

At their South Pacific base in New Guinea, the exhausted crew of the "Winged Victory" join the other crews in a Christmas celebration. In the midst of the festivities, an air raid siren sounds, and they take off for battle. During the fight, a tire on the "Winged Victory" is damaged during combat, and Pinky is wounded. After the aircraft makes a rough but safe landing at the base, Pinky is rushed away in an ambulance.

Back at the base, Allan learns that his wife has given birth to a son. Before taking off to rejoin the air battle, he writes a letter to his son, explaining the importance of his mission and his hopes for the future.



Fox bought the film rights for $350,000.[4]

Winged Victory entered principal photography on June 15, 1944, and wrapped production on September 25, 1944.[5] The United States Army Air Forces provided 14 technical advisers to the production company. The advisers were able to provide information on training, graduation exercises and even combat experience. Included in the group of pilots was a chaplain and flight surgeon.[6]

The aircraft seen in Winged Victory include 27 Consolidated B-24J Liberator bombers featured in the combat scenes and 55 Vultee BT-13A Valiant as well as numerous Cessna AT-17 Bobcat trainers. A number of Curtiss P-40N Warhawk fighters were also seen.[7]


Winged Victory was critically reviewed by Bosley Crowther in The New York Times. He enthusiastically praised the film ("lurid adventure episodes" in the story) and commented: "The Army Air Force show, 'Winged Victory,' which was a big and deserving hit upon the stage, has now been transposed into the medium which was most appropriate to it all the time—the large-scale and swiftly fluid medium of the motion picture screen. And, as it looked yesterday at the Roxy, where it opened amid a rout of brass and pomp, it gives every promise of being one of the most successful films about this war."[8]

The review in Variety was similarly effusive about Winged Victory: "This is no story of any specific segment of Americana; it is, rather, the tale of Main Street and Broadway, of Texas and Brooklyn, of Christian and Jew—of American youth fighting for the preservation of American ideals. This is a documentation of American youth learning to fly for victory—a winged victory—and though it's fashioned in the manner of fictional entertainment, all the boys listed are bona fide members of the AAF—acting real-life roles."[9]



  1. ^ Along with Corporal Buttons, other members of the USAAF who were in the film included Sergeant Edmond O'Brien and Corporal Lee J. Cobb.[3]


  1. ^ "All-time Film Rental Champs". Variety. October 15, 1990.
  2. ^ Paris 1995, p. 155.
  3. ^ a b Pendo 1984, p. 211.
  4. ^ LOOKING BACKWARD AT THE 1943-44 SEASON: Being a Summary and Many Figures of the Year's Activities New York Times 4 June 1944: X1.
  5. ^ "Original print information: 'Winged Victory' (1944)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: May 31, 2017.
  6. ^ Orriss 1984, p. 103.
  7. ^ Beck 2016, p. 218.
  8. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "Movie review: ' Winged Victory,' Stunning film version of Air Force show, opens at the Roxy." The New York Times, December 21, 1944. Retrieved: March 31, 2017.
  9. ^ "Review: ‘Winged Victory’." Variety. Retrieved: March 31, 2017.


  • Beck, Simon D. The Aircraft-Spotter's Film and Television Companion. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4766-2293-4.
  • Orriss, Bruce. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War II. Hawthorne, California: Aero Associates Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-9613088-0-X.
  • Paris, Michael. From the Wright Brothers to Top Gun: Aviation, Nationalism, and Popular Cinema. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-7190-4074-0.
  • Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8-1081-746-2.
  • Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.

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