MANCHESTER, NH — It won ‘Best Picture’ at the very first Academy Awards, with spectacular midair flying sequences and a dramatic story that still mesmerizes audiences today.
‘Wings’ (1927), a drama about U.S. pilots in the skies over Europe during World War I, will be shown on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at the Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, N.H.
The screening, part of the Rex Theatre’s “Movies for a Cause” program, will benefit the non-profit Aviation Museum of NH and the Rex Theatre.
Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 per person, general admission.
The screening will feature live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer who specializes in creating music for silent films.
The show will allow audiences to experience ‘Wings’ the way its makers originally intended: on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience.
‘Wings,’ a blockbuster hit in its original release, recounts the adventures of U.S. pilots flying combat missions behind enemy lines at the height of World War I in Europe. ‘Wings’ stunned audiences with aerial dogfight footage, vivid and realistic battle scenes, and a dramatic love-triangle plot.
‘Wings’ stars Clara Bow, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, and Richard Arlen. The rarely-seen film also marked one of the first screen appearances of Gary Cooper, who plays a supporting role. Directed by William Wellman, ‘Wings’ was lauded by critics for its gripping story, superb photography, and technical innovations.
‘Wings’ is notable as one of the first Hollywood films to take audiences directly into battlefield trenches and vividly depict combat action. Aviation buffs will also enjoy ‘Wings’ as the film is filled with scenes of vintage aircraft from the early days of flight.
Seen today, the film also allows contemporary audiences a window into the era of World War I, which was underway in Europe a century ago.
” ‘Wings’ is not only a terrific movie, but seeing it on the big screen is also a great chance to appreciate what earlier generations of servicemen and women endured,” accompanist Jeff Rapsis said.
Rapsis, a composer who specializes in film music, will create a score for ‘Wings’ on the spot, improvising the music as the movie unfolds to enhance the on-screen action as well as respond to audience reactions. Rapsis performs the music on a digital synthesizer, which is capable of producing a wide range of theatre organ and orchestral textures.
“Live music was an integral part of the silent film experience,” Rapsis said. “At the time, most films weren’t released with sheet music or scores. Studios relied on local musicians to come up with an effective score that was different in every theater. At its best, this approach created an energy and a connection that added a great deal to a film’s impact. That’s what I try to recreate,” Rapsis said.
‘Wings’ (1927) starring Clara Bow, Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen will be shown with live music on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, N.H.