The Wings of Eagles
Action / Biography / Drama / War
Directed by John Ford
Written by Frank Fenton, William Wister Haines and Frank Wead
Produced by Charles Schnee
Cinematography by Paul Vogel
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
John Wayne as Frank W. 'Spig' Wead
Dan Dailey as 'Jughead' Carson
Maureen O'Hara as Min Wead
Ward Bond as John Dodge
Ken Curtis as John Dale Price
Edmund Lowe as Adm. Moffett
Kenneth Tobey as Capt. Herbert Allen Hazard
James Todd as Jack Travis
Barry Kelley as Capt. Jock Clark
Sig Ruman as Manager
Henry O'Neill as Captain Spear
Willis Bouchey as Barton
Dorothy Jordan as Rose Brentmann
The Wings of Eagles trailer
Frank ‘Spig’ Wead is a U.S. Navy pilot who loves adventure, yet is a passionate advocate of naval aviation. He is so devoted to the program, it gets in the way of his personal life. Things drastically change after an accident leaves him paralyzed. This does not stop his love for flying and finds a new way to express himself and that is through screenwriting. When World War II comes around, he knows he must be a part of it despite his paralysis.
World War I aviator Spig Wead has a personal mission to sell the Navy on the value of aviation in combat. He works tirelessly with his friend John Dale Price to convince the Navy to enter racing and endurance flight competitions. He succeeds at besting the Army aviation team, convincing the Navy. However, while he is preoccupied with his career, his wife and family grow to miss him. After an accident that leaves him paralyzed, Spig further spurns his family and spirals into depression. His Navy buddies encourage him to take up writing, and after selling a few scripts to Hollywood, Spig has conquered his depression and is able to walk again. However, is his recovery enough to let him serve his country again at the outbreak of WWII?
John Ford knew Frank 'Spig' Wead personally, and made this film in his honor.
John Ford included a fictionalized version of himself in The Wings of Eagles, named John Dodge, played by his good friend Ward Bond. All of the props in Dodge’s office are actually John Ford’s.
Frank Wead lost his hair as a natural result of aging. In order to portray this accurately, Wayne agreed to do the later scenes without his toupee. The Wings of Eagles is the only film he allowed this to occur in.
This is third movie starring both John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.
Most of the extras in the flight scenes were actually Navy flight students and instructors. Although the Navy objected, Ford made sure the men were paid “extra” wages.
Frank Wead wrote the stories for the movies Hell Divers, Ceiling Zero and another John Wayne film, They Were Expendable.