WINGS has most of the virtues and only a few of the vices of the silent movie. The lack of speech requires the audience to pay close attention to subtle nuances of facial expression and scene change. Director William Wellman managed to create an impressive recreation of a war that was silent on the screen but not in the mind. The plot, though thin, still carries the movie to the point where the real stars come in--the exciting dogfights that still resonate with visual power. Clara Bow is the marquee star but she disappears after the first half, only to reappear minutes before the closing credits. Charles Rogers, who bears a stunning resemblance to Robert Downey Jr., plays Jack, the object of her love, who in turn loves Sylvia, played by Jobyna Ralston. Richard Arlen is David, who also loves Sylvia. Mary (Bow) loves Jack (Rogers) but confusingly tells David that she loves him. The love quadrangle becomes even more tangled when Jack effortlessly and conveniently switches affection from Sylvia to Mary. Once, however, the viewer rolls with the numerous romantic plot twists, he can see that the aerial fight scenes form the collective real star of the film. And beyond them lies an anti-war subtext in whose carnal viciousness prefigures the much later graphic killing fields of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. To appreciate WINGS, one must view it as contemporary audiences did. To them, WINGS was a movie whose plot was secondary to the then state of the arts special effects. The result was a convincing and viscerally effective film that is worth the while to view, even after nearly seventy-five years.