Film | Nathaniel Rogers | Oscars

Hot Movie Moment: 'Boy You're Game'

Beautiful Charles "Buddy" Rogers in WINGS (1927) Oscar's First Best Picture

...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

This morning's Oscar nominations exposed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science as total nostalgia freaks. War Horse is a self-conscious throwback, Midnight in Paris investigates our impulse to romanticize the past, My Week With Marilyn's skirt is totally blown up for the world's neverending Monroe obsession. Most tellingly both nomination leaders Hugo and The Artist bow down in worship of silent movies. So what better timing than today for the re-release of the very first Best Picture winner WINGS (1927) on BluRay.

WingsfightIf you've never seen it, it's totally worth a look and not just for the gorgeous flyboys. Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Richard Arlen play Jack and David, two fighter pilots who are initially at odds. In one early military training scene they're constantly giving each other the eye. Their drill master calls them "powder puff guys" -- I'm not making this up -- and then they proceed to beat the shit out of each other. Jack regularly has David flat on his back but David won't give up. Finally Jack stops and smiles.

"Boy you're game!" he says in a title card and just like that they're besties, tenderly wiping blood from mouths (with boxing gloves still on). It's all macho ridiculous and incredibly hot if you ask me. Their super tight friendship, threatened by sharing the same love ("It" girl Clara Bow), finally leads to one of the most famous embraces in early cinema... AFTER THE JUMP...


I promise you that "Buddy" never kisses Clara Bow with this much passion. Such a great movie!

If you'd prefer modern hotties with boxing gloves REAL STEEL is also out today. But Hugh Jackman doesn't make out with his male costars so Wings wins.


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  1. I promise you that "Buddy" never kisses Clara Bow with this much passion. Such a great movie!

    Posted by: shakeel | Jan 25, 2012 1:38:57 AM

  2. In those days, there was more sensuality between men. Nowadays, there's hardly any. It could rightly be said that, at the social level, there is more fear of male-male sensuality today than there was in 1927.

    The reason for this is two-fold: the rise of women's lib and the rise of gay lib. I'll now explain.

    Women's lib has made it harder for ordinary men to relate in a homo-sensual way with each other. That's because women have intruded into men's domains and are very demanding of a man's attention. They are also jealous of male-male sensuality. Gay lib has reduced all male-male interactions to a sex act . Thus, there is less room for homo-sensuality between ordinary men.

    Posted by: jason | Jan 25, 2012 6:35:51 AM

  3. @Jason

    I don't think gay liberation has reduced all male interactions to a sex act. Maybe it has more to do perhaps with the fact that straight people can't focus on anything but the sex act when it comes to thinking of gay men.

    Posted by: scott | Jan 25, 2012 7:21:01 AM

  4. Hey -- you forgot something! In Wings Gary Cooper makes, I think, his first movie appearance. In any event, Cooper was the best-looking guy in the movie. A clip of his tragic bit can be seen here:

    Posted by: Demian | Jan 25, 2012 7:29:09 AM

  5. Thanks for the heads up on "Wings" coming to Bu-ray! I love silents and it's one I'm missing in my collection and it is one great film.

    Posted by: Vincent-louis Apruzzese | Jan 25, 2012 7:31:49 AM

  6. @Jason: Yes.

    Posted by: Anon | Jan 25, 2012 8:38:12 AM

  7. Jason and Scott both have good points. The great thing about Stonewall et all was the freedom that came about as a result; the bad thing was, now "it" had a name, and was on the public's radar. What was previously unspoken (due to fear, morals, "polite society" etc.) now could be identified and pointed at in fear and loathing: homosexuality. Many millions of young men who previously had crushes on each other and may even have had very satisfying love affairs (or at least romantic friendships) suddenly knew that what they were feeling was "wrong" "sick" "perverted" etc. because society told them that it was. There's infinitely more open homosexuality in society over the past 50+ years; however, in the dark valley of the 60's, 70's, and 80's, there was also the rise and even acceptance of the words and insults "homo" "queer" "faggot" etc. It finally seems like now, when the aforementioned words are becoming taboo (much like racial slurs) and many young people are much less freaked out about same-sex affection, that many males are free to indulge in these sorts of romantic friendships again; however, this time they may very well be aware that what they're feeling is classified as "gay" or "bi"--they're just comfortable enough with themselves that they don't care.

    Posted by: Dback | Jan 25, 2012 8:48:03 AM

  8. I'm not sure kissing a guy who died saving your life would be very romantic. It's more a way of saying thanks.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 25, 2012 9:17:43 AM

  9. I went through a big silent film phase in my 20s, but oddly I've never seen "Wings." Mainly I was interested in European films, the German Expressionists, mysteries and "horror" films. It's almost unfortunate the silent era didn't last a few more years because by the late 1920s the acting had gotten a lot more naturalistic and the filmmakers had honed their skills until few "intertitles" were needed. Watching silent films is a very different experience, almost more akin to reading than the entirely passive viewing of sound films.

    Since the Hays Code hadn't yet come into being subjects that would be forbidden just a few years later were used, homosexuality, drug use, the bad guy winning, etc. One HUGE difference between now and the time I was viewing these films is that so many of them are available online on YouTube and other sites. I had to rent via mail-order or buy them from Facets Cinemateque in Chicago!

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 25, 2012 9:18:25 AM

  10. There is a scene in Wings where you see a bunch of guys lines up naked from behind. It was a surprise because I thought Hollywood was more strict about that kind of stuff but I guess that came later. Good movie though.

    Posted by: NoSleep4Sam | Jan 25, 2012 1:58:20 PM

  11. And amazingly "Wings" was directed by one of Hollywood's butchest directors Wild Bill Wellman.

    Posted by: jaragon | Jan 25, 2012 5:38:02 PM

  12. @DBACK Excellent points and I'd add that historians have noted the huge impact the LBGT movement has had on men at all points on the sexuality spectrum. As a reader of history (literary and otherwise) I know that the kind of intimacy in feelings and correspondence once common among all educated men is now gone or suppressed. One is now required, as in a NY deli or the military, to take a number and join a specific line.One must, in effect, join a team. No ambiguity allowed. Men who are over on the hetero end of the spectrum must never show tenderness, empathy or EGADS!, emotion toward others, particularly another male.

    It's very sad when you give it thought, and mostly for men who prefer women as their eventual partners.

    Posted by: Contrarian | Jan 25, 2012 5:48:38 PM

  13. That isn't true. There was a fair amount of florid, flowery language used in letters between men of the upper class, so much so that it's hard to tell if they were friends or lovers, but in the lower classes? Affection between men has always existed, sometimes erotic, sometimes not, and it didn't just STOP in 1969 with the rise of gay rights and feminism. That's complete and utter bullsh!t. Certain male friendships were always suspect and there were limits to how it could be expressed.

    Today you've scribblers like Christie Blatchford upset that straight men DO show affection toward each other, which she blames ON the gay and feminist movements. The formerly narrow range of male emotion has opened up, and though it's treated somewhat comically that male non-sexual relationships have a touch of "bromance" to them, not unlike courtship.

    And don't forget that in some of those affectionate male friendships you're claiming have been lost they WERE f*cking! There was no gay identity, community, nothing like that, so it all took place to the side of heterosexual unions. Sure there were "confirmed bachelors" but they were few and far between. No matter their feelings men married women who had few rights and were expected to put up with whatever her husband decreed. Divorce was rarely an option.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 25, 2012 10:06:51 PM

    I published a screencap of the male nudity (from behind) in the recruiting station scene to which you refer some time ago and did so again in my post about the DVD/BluRay release today. Hope that scene isn't excised in the new restoration. There's also a scene in which Clara Bow briefly flashes the camera while changing clothes. The promotional trailer for the new release seems to imply that the entire movie is sepia-tinted. Please let this be wrong! Aaarrrgh!

    Posted by: EnzoInOmaha | Jan 26, 2012 12:26:40 PM

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