The Wings of Eagles (1957)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama, War  |  22 February 1957 (USA)
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A biography of Navy flier-turned-screenwriter Frank W. "Spig" Wead.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
'Jughead' Carson
Min Wead
John Dale Price
Adm. Moffett
Capt. Herbert Allen Hazard
James Todd ...
Jack Travis
Barry Kelley ...
Capt. Jock Clark
Sig Ruman ...
Henry O'Neill ...
Capt. Spear
Rose Brentmann


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. When an accident paralyzes him, Spig finds a new means of expressing his love of flying: screenwriting. Successful and acclaimed, he finds the U.S. entry into World War II to be an irresistible call. Pleading that he be reinstated in the Navy despite his paralysis, Spig finds he has an enormous contribution yet to make. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Director John Ford's newest triumph, the life-inspired story of reckless, fun-loving, romantic "Spig" Wead, Sqaudron Commander. See more »


Biography | Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 February 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dem Adler gleich  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Most of the extras in the Pensacola, Florida, scenes were actual Navy flight students and flight instructors. Although the Navy objected, director John Ford made certain that the military men were paid "extra" wages. See more »


When on board the aircraft carrier, as "Spig" Wead (John Wayne) is leaving the ship, a plane is being towed in the background. The national insignia on the side of the aircraft is incorrect. There was no red stripe in the white bars that bordered the star during WWII. This version did not come into being until after the war. See more »


Min Wead: Why don't you!
Frank W. 'Spig' Wead: Alright, I been thinking what a heel I been about you and my own kids, I do something I go all the way, living, gambling, flying, tap myself out I guess that what I wanted to be. Maybe way I am.
Min Wead: Star spangled Spad damn the marguritte and full speed ahead and don't give up the ship.
Frank W. 'Spig' Wead: Have a drink, Listen Min I'm trying to say I been a fool, first grade gold brand
Min Wead: So Have I!
Frank W. 'Spig' Wead: [Grabs her] Okay, Let change it, lets grow up before our kids do
Min Wead: We better hurry up.
[They kiss passionate]
See more »


Referenced in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) See more »


Anchors Aweigh
Music by Charles A. Zimmerman, lyrics by Alfred Hart Miles and George D. Lottman
Used as a theme throughout the film
See more »

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User Reviews

Hollywood biography based on a Air hero named Frank Wead with sterling performance by John Wayne
5 July 2011 | by See all my reviews

Wonderfully shot Ford film with a lively look at the spirit of Navy , including glorification of military life , familiar drama , love and sentimental nostalgia with interesting character studio of a varied assortment of individuals . It's a first-rate war melodrama , including comedy , and masterfully directed by the great John Ford . It's based on the life of one of America's greatest air heroes , Frank ¨Spig¨Wead , an Air hero who wrote plays about the war . He starred some rousing exploits in the ¨Schneider Cup Air Races¨. But he suffers a home accident and is interned in ¨San Diego National Hospital¨, and despite being crippled and wheel-bound he subsequently made a substantial contribution to America's war effort in the Pacific during WWII. He was a famous aviation pioneer become Hollywood screenwriter and one of them was ¨They were expendable (1945) ¨ directed by the same Ford and also with Wayne in the main role . This is a great and stolid drama, a John Ford's lusty realization and marvelously constructed.

This classic picture ranks as one of the best of John Ford's work. It contains Ford's usual themes as familiar feeling , a little bit enjoyable humor, friendship and and sense of comradeship among people . Multiple highlights as the fights between Air and Army soldiers and of course the sensible final farewell on the carrier . Interesting screenplay portraying in depth characters and brooding events with interesting issues running beneath script surface is written by Frank Fenton, John Ford's habitual, and based on the life and writings of Commander Frank W. 'Spig' Wead .

This excellent film featuring a magnificent performance by whole casting . Awesome John Wayne in a larger-than-life character . Enticing and intimate Maureen O'Hara in a sensible role with sensational acting . Excellent co-starring cast as War Bond as John Ford-alter ego, including pipe-smoking and hat . In the film appears , as usual , Ford's favourite actors as Ken Curtis , Mae Marsh , Kenneth Tobey, Willis Bouchey, Jack Pennick , some of them are uncredited . Good cinematography by Paul Voguel and jingoist musical score by Jeff Alexander. Rating : Better than average . Worthwhile watching .

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