Cmdr. Frank "Spig" Wead was a pioneer aviator, renowned screenwriter (whose works included John Ford's They Were Expendable) and a man of war. The skies beckoned Spig to action; a crippling injury ultimately left him power... more »less to act, propelling him to discover the power of his pen. He was talented, driven, flawed, a friend of Ford ? and the subject of this compassionate biography. John Wayne plays Spig and Ford directs The Wings of Eagles, which also offers a fascinating glimpse into the ways and world of Ford: Ward Bond plays moviemaker John Dodge, a role modelled on Ford. Maureen O'Hara, Wayne's five-time co-star (including Ford's The Quiet Man), and Dan Dailey (of Ford's 1952 What Price Glory?) play Spig's indomitable wife Min and cigar-chomping sidekick "Jughead" Carson.« less
Golden Wings, Salt Spray- Ford's Tribute to A Naval Aviator
Stephen Berrey | Virginia, USA | 03/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a factual naval aviation story, intermixed with Army Air Corps rivalry and combat scenes. It provides a chronological view of one naval family- their love and adversity, including Navy and Army aviators supported by their loyal maintenance personnel who helped in the advancement of U.S. military aviation during 1920s to 1940s. Add, of course, a mixture of competition provided by the navy wives and their only rival- the United States Navy. Released 22 February 1957, The Wings of Eagles was considered an adult story, wrought with the thrills, laughter, and family hardships all to well experienced by the real heroes of this story- the pioneer naval aviation wives (there is still no "Hall of Fame" dedicated to these gallant ladies at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, NAS Pensacola, FL).Ms. Maureen O'Hara who acted the gallant part of Mrs. Minnie (Bryant) Wead was well received by the "naval aviation wives of gold", and was nominated at a Naval Aviation Cadet Recruiting Officers Convention, Long Beach, CA, as "Ms. Naval Aviation- 1957." Other familiar actors included: John Wayne (CDR Frank "Spig" Wead), Kenneth Curtis (RADM John "Johnny" Dale Price), Dan Dailey (Chief "Jughead" Carson- loyal Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate), Kenneth Tobey (characterization of Lieutenant Jimmy H. Doolittle), Ward Bond (representing Hollywood director John Ford), Edmund Lowe (RADM William Adger Moffett, USN- Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics), and Charles Trowbridge (representing ADM Ernest J. King) whose one line was: "I like it...write it up". The railroad boxcar scene, the hangar fly-through, the various odd aircraft shown, the newsreel aviation reports of winning the Schneider Cup of 1923, the loyal efforts and contributions by the aviation maintenance personnel keeping the aircraft flying were all real events. Today's aspiring military aviators may find this aviation story of much interest.This story may bring tears and some fond memories back to those pioneer naval aviation wives who are still around and had experienced it all. Their stories can relate back to the days of sugar white sands at Santa Rosa Island and of Coronado Beach; the babies they lost from the 1919 flu influenza; the open-air jalopy rides down old Warrington Road and Coronado Avenue; the screened front-porch bungalows of Bay Front, Pensacola, and Coronado Island; the seaplanes skimming across Pensacola and San Diego bays; meeting their husbands as they landed in their squadron fighters and torpedo planes following short at-sea flight operations aboard USS LANGLEY (CV-1); followed by the many naval aviator and bridge parties given at Mustin Beach and North Island officers' clubs- all this on just a naval Lieutenant's salary (with flight pay) to make ends meet during the Great Depression.This is an MGM/ John Ford contribution to those "naval aviators in leather skull caps"- he did this well, focusing on the triumphs and tragedies often found within the War and Navy departments during the development of our country's military aviation. This was also Ford's tribute to Army-Navy aviation camaraderie- America's early combat teams. Seen here are episodes of Army-Navy departmental budget rivalries; around-the-world "beat the Navy" Army Air Corps celebrations; CDR Wead at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during 1942 - 1943; combat films compiled by CDR Ford, USNR (Chief, Field Photographic Branch, OSS- worked for William "Wild Bill" Donovan, Director of OSS); and, the story of how CDR Wead got production approval of new "jeep" aircraft carriers on converted cruiser hulls- with the approval of ADM King and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. There is combat footage aboard carriers- a reenactment of CDR Wead aboard USS YORKTOWN (CV-10) as Chief of Staff/ Operations for RADM Charles A. "Baldy" Pownall, CTF-50, during the Gilbert and Marshall islands operations.Interests in making this film concerning CDR Wead began with correspondence between Vice Admirals John Dale Price, Calvin Thornton Durgin, and John Ford. Ford received first priority from the Department of Defense (DoD) to film a story about CDR Wead, months ahead of an attempt by Warner Brothers Pictures Distributing Corporation. Priority permission to Ford was granted by Donald E. Baruch (Chief, Motion Picture Section, Pictorial Branch, DoD). The film was to be based upon historical material from DoD, tales from Price and Durgin, earlier correspondence received from CDR Wead, and a book by "Red" Futhven & Jerry Stagg titled "Staircase". The public has seen this magnificent Ford tribute to CDR Wead since 1957. A newcomer to this film might ask- who was this naval aviator called Spig Wead?CDR Frank Wilbur Wead, USN, acquired the nickname "Spig" during his Naval Academy days (1912 - 1916). He accumulated 9 years & 7 months total sea service prior to his accident. Together, Lieutenants Wead, Price and Durgin received their aviation wings 22 May 1920, NAS Pensacola, FL. Later, LT Wead led the U.S. Navy Schneider Cup Team to England and brought this famous cup to America aboard S.S. LEVIATHAN, October 1923. With LT Price they broke five seaplane records, 11 - 12 July 1924. Along with fleet exercises aboard USS LANGLEY with VT-2, there were staff duty assignments under Admirals Moffett and Joseph M. Reeves, and with 11th Naval District Commander. Wead wrote for leading magazines (The Saturday Evening Post and The American Magazine) and Hollywood during 1930s to 1940s. His final assignment was as commanding officer of VF-2. During WWII, he acquired combat duty aboard USS YORKTOWN, receiving the Legion of Merit (Combat). CDR Wead was relieved from active duty 21 July 1944, at Fleet Air, Alameda, California, where his last naval boss was RADM Pownall (Commander Air Force, Pacific Fleet).The accident: Tragedy struck Wednesday morning, 14 April 1926, during heavy electrical storm over San Diego and Coronado. Combination of power outage and hurrying in the darkness, LT Wead accidentally tripped, falling down dark stairway, fracturing his neck. This occurred in a two-story home he and Minnie recently rented: 600 9th Avenue, Coronado, CA Today, one can still see this home corner of 9th and H avenues."
Still think john wayne can't act,watch this movie and see ju
John D. Page | usa | 05/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"john ford and john wayne,friends,partners,they had a father/son relationship that lasted till ford died.they also had a friend named frank "spig" wead,a navy pilot(when there were none)and later top screenwriter(her wrote ford's and wayne's they were expendable)and ford and wayne wanted to tell his story. the movie starts like acomedy as "spig"tries his best to get the world to notice that the navy has some good pilots and should let them fly. as frank moves up in the ranks his wife right beside him(maureen o'hara never anymore beautiful than here)they have kids and life looks good. one night hearing something(a child cring i think) frank runs down the steps of his house and falls,breaking his back and neck.this is where wayne really shows what he's got.the scene where he learns he must leave the navy and will never walk very much anymore are just stunning. the look on waynes face when he is told tears your heart out,we see this big tall man and can see the moistness in his eyes as he takes the news and refuses to be broken. please if you have never thought john wayne could act check out this different wayne/ford movie and see wayne SHINE!!!!!"
The Wings of Eagles-John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara
Suzanne Black | Oxford, Mississippi United States | 03/27/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a typical Ford film. Yes, at times The Duke was a bit compassionate towards his co-star than we are used to seeing it the all tough western parts he is famous for. This movie is ladened with talent through and through, from Dan Daily, Ken "Festus" Curtis and the list goes on. It is a true account of part of our naval history that many do not realize. Filmed aboard the USS Philipine Sea, and utilizing many of this carriers actual sailors for extras. A must to complete any John Wayne Collection."
The Wings of Eagles
Gerald Hartman | 06/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Wings of Eagles Not your typical John Wayne war picture it shows the amazing chemistry of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne it does seem that these two could never go wrong. This movie is no exception. It starts as John Wayne is learning to fly the first planes in the navy in a hilarious barn busting scene. At times it has a very Gomer Pyle feel to it at other times it has a Last Days of Patton feel.
The Transfer is descent for its age doesn't seem to have been given anything special, though that's not surprised when you think of John Wayne this isn't the first movie to come to mind, the audio isn't in 5.1 but it's not a movie that lends itself to needing it. As most of the movies of the 1950's it has that parent trap look too it, which to me ads to the charm of the movie. Of course let's not forget John Ford Directed it.
In conclusion for 10 bucks it's a great DVD to own. For John Wayne fans its must to complete there collection this comes from someone who is partial to Wayne's westerns but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The packaging it's a typical plastic case which is great to me. Its single disc nothing fancy just like the duke plain simple and to the point. "
Curio From Ford and Wayne
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 07/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This oddity from director John Ford and John Wayne has no right to work. The direction by Ford is kind of awkward, juggling heavy drama and heavy slapstick sometimes not so successfully. You never really buy John Wayne as the navy pilot turned scriptwriter, Frank "Spig" Wead. Rather, Wayne seems to be playing, well, Wayne. Maureen O'Hara, who in previous endeavors with Ford and Wayne ignited sparks, is essentially wasted here in the thankless role of neglected wife. That said, on some strange level this film works. It's never boring. I think the sincerity and reverence that Ford and Wayne bring to the project compensate for the film's many shortcomings. This is definitely an example of a top-flight director's lesser efforts being better than an average director's successes. If you're a fan of either Ford or Wayne this film is indispensible. I don't think I would recommend this film to anyone not familiar with their work to use this as a reference point."