U.S. Navy pilot Frank ‘Spig’ Wead is a fun-loving and rowdy adventurer, but also a fierce proponent of Naval aviation. His dedication to the promotion of the Navy’s flying program is so intense that his marriage and family life suffer.
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Ford's customarily rose-tinted view of military life, which here consists only of camaraderie, carousing, and a jovial, unconvincing leniency towards breaking the rules. The secret weapon of the film, though, is how that rosiness is put in relief with glimpses of a home life given up. The contrast of hammy staging and meta/documentary elements creates an odd tension, but the storytelling needs work. For completists.
I don't quite love the film, but there's certainly something to it. Like many Ford films a sly critique of what it's supposedly championing: here the surface glorification of the military and the stirring story of the hero who triumphed against all odds is really a portrait of a man who neglected his family and friends in a monomaniacal pursuit of glory, only to understand too late what an empty existence he's led.
The first Ford film that I'm truly mixed about. I loved the cast, but the script is spotty. Case in point - I got up to go to the bathroom and came back a minute later. The narrative had already progressed about 5 or so years.
The last 25 minutes of this movie englobe the least inspired shots and scenes Ford ever created. "The Wings of Eagles" works until a certain point: then it becomes turgid, obvious and even corny in the end. Too much of a simplistic picture for someone who did "What Price Glory" or "Fort Apache". I think only "Two Rode Together" is worse than this. Militarism and duty in their worst forms.