IMDb > The Wings of Eagles (1957)
The Wings of Eagles
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The Wings of Eagles (1957) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 37% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Frank Fenton (screenplay) and
William Wister Haines (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for The Wings of Eagles on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
22 February 1957 (USA) See more »
What A Guy Wayne ! See more »
A biography of Navy flier-turned-screenwriter Frank W. "Spig" Wead. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Ford-directed Biopic of Aviation Pioneer... See more (30 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

John Wayne ... Frank W. 'Spig' Wead

Dan Dailey ... 'Jughead' Carson

Maureen O'Hara ... Min Wead

Ward Bond ... John Dodge

Ken Curtis ... John Dale Price

Edmund Lowe ... Adm. Moffett

Kenneth Tobey ... Capt. Herbert Allen Hazard
James Todd ... Jack Travis

Barry Kelley ... Capt. Jock Clark

Sig Ruman ... Manager

Henry O'Neill ... Capt. Spear

Willis Bouchey ... Barton

Dorothy Jordan ... Rose Brentmann
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Tige Andrews ... Arizona Pincus (uncredited)

Veda Ann Borg ... (uncredited)
Danny Borzage ... Pete (uncredited)

Olive Carey ... Bridy O'Faolain (uncredited)

Franklyn Farnum ... Man on Sidewalk Outside Movie Theater (uncredited)

James Flavin ... MP at Garden Party (uncredited)
Mimi Gibson ... Lila Wead (uncredited)

Fred Graham ... Officer in Brawl (uncredited)
Sam Harris ... Patient (uncredited)

William Henry ... Naval Aide (uncredited)

Louis Jean Heydt ... Dr. John Keye (uncredited)

Stuart Holmes ... Producer (uncredited)
Christopher James ... (uncredited)

William Joyce ... Naval Aide (uncredited)
Janet Lake ... Nurse (uncredited)
William Paul Lowery ... Wead's Baby - 'Commodore' (uncredited)

Cliff Lyons ... (uncredited)

Mae Marsh ... Nurse Crumley (uncredited)

May McAvoy ... Nurse (uncredited)

Alberto Morin ... Second Manager (uncredited)

Forbes Murray ... Congressman (uncredited)
Peter Ortiz ... Lt. Charles Dexter (uncredited)
Jack Pennick ... Joe McGuffey (uncredited)
Chuck Roberson ... Officer (uncredited)

Evelyn Rudie ... Doris Wead (uncredited)
Arthur Salzfass ... Navy Pilot (uncredited)

Harry Strang ... Bartender (uncredited)

William Tracy ... Air Officer (uncredited)

Charles Trowbridge ... Adm. Crown (uncredited)

Dale Van Sickel ... Naval Officer (uncredited)
Harlan Warde ... Executive Officer (uncredited)
Blue Washington ... Bartender at Officer's Club (uncredited)

Terry Wilson ... Naval Officer (uncredited)

Directed by
John Ford 
Writing credits
Frank Fenton (screenplay) and
William Wister Haines (screenplay)

Frank Wead (based on the life and writings of) (as Commander Frank W. 'Spig' Wead)

Produced by
James E. Newcom .... associate producer
Charles Schnee .... producer
Original Music by
Jeff Alexander 
Cinematography by
Paul Vogel (director of photography) (as Paul C. Vogel)
Film Editing by
Gene Ruggiero 
Art Direction by
Malcolm Brown 
William A. Horning 
Set Decoration by
F. Keogh Gleason  (as Keogh Gleason)
Edwin B. Willis 
Makeup Department
William Tuttle .... makeup artist
Production Management
Tom Andre .... unit manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Wingate Smith .... assistant director
Art Department
Frank Wesselhoff .... painter (uncredited)
Sound Department
Wesley C. Miller .... recording supervisor (as Dr. Wesley C. Miller)
James Brock .... sound (uncredited)
Special Effects by
A. Arnold Gillespie .... special effects
Warren Newcombe .... special effects
Fred Graham .... stunts (uncredited)
Chuck Hayward .... stunts (uncredited)
John Hudkins .... stunts (uncredited)
Cliff Lyons .... stunts (uncredited)
Paul Mantz .... aerial stunts (uncredited)
Frank McGrath .... stunts (uncredited)
Bob Morgan .... stunts (uncredited)
Chuck Roberson .... stunt double: John Wayne (uncredited)
Chuck Roberson .... stunts (uncredited)
Ronnie Rondell Jr. .... stunts (uncredited)
Paul Stader .... stunts (uncredited)
Dale Van Sickel .... stunts (uncredited)
Jack Williams .... stunts (uncredited)
Terry Wilson .... stunts (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Walter Plunkett .... wardrobe: Miss O'Hara
Editorial Department
Charles K. Hagedon .... color consultant
Music Department
Arthur Morton .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
John Dale Price .... technical advisor (as Adm. John Dale Price USN [Ret])
John Keye .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Frank Wead .... dedicatee (as Commander Frank 'Spig' Wead)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
110 min
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System) | Perspecta Stereo

Did You Know?

After John Dodge (the fictional version of John Ford) gives Spig a job writing for his studio, he is led out to his new office to begin work and passes in front of numerous actors' head shots. John Wayne pauses for a beat in front of one of his earliest head shots before continuing.See more »
Factual errors: When Spig is narrating the newsreels where he describes the loss of the carrier Hornet, the film footage is of the carrier Bunker Hill damaged by two kamikaze planes off Okinawa in May 1945. Secondly, Spig describes the Hornet as being hit by 2 kamikaze planes. Hornet was sunk by bombs in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in Oct 1942, a full 2 years before the Japanese implemented the kamikaze doctrine. Hornet was struck by one plane that was thought to have intentionally crashed into the ship after being heavily damaged by anti aircraft fire but this is not the same as a kamikaze attack.See more »
Min Wead:I'm not going
Frank W. 'Spig' Wead:Stay broke and keep moving that the story of our lives.
Min Wead:Spig you got two daughters and they lived in seven different houses and seven seven states and seven different years back and forth across the country and out of it too. Well, I'm just not going to move them anymore.
Frank W. 'Spig' Wead:Well, Have a Drink
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)See more »
You're In The Army NowSee more »


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34 out of 43 people found the following review useful.
Ford-directed Biopic of Aviation Pioneer..., 17 October 2003
Author: Ben Burgraff (cariart) from Las Vegas, Nevada

If John Ford hadn't made THE WINGS OF EAGLES, Commander Frank W. 'Spig' Wead would be best known today for the impressive collection of military-oriented stories he wrote for motion pictures, during the 30s and 40s. Among his credits are HELL DIVERS (with Wallace Beery and Clark Gable), TEST PILOT (with Gable and Spencer Tracy), DIVE BOMBER (with Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray), and THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (for John Ford, with John Wayne and Robert Montgomery). He brought to his writing a love of flying, pride in the military, and an understanding that a 'greater good' must sometimes take precedence over personal happiness.

In THE WINGS OF EAGLES, director Ford illustrates how Wead's life was every bit as interesting and dramatic as anything he wrote. A close personal friend (so much so that he even cast Ward Bond to play a thinly-disguised version of himself, named 'John Dodge', in the film), Ford was witness to many of the triumphs and tragedies of the pioneer Naval aviator/engineer's life. After completing THE SEARCHERS, Ford commemorated the tenth anniversary of his friend's passing with this sensitive, 'warts-and-all' tribute.

Wead (portrayed by John Wayne, in one of his most fully realized characterizations...he even sacrificed his hairpiece, as the older Wead, for the sake of authenticity), begins the film as a typical hell-raising Ford hero, a Navy flier who loved taunting his Army counterparts (led by the terrific Kenneth Tobey), lived for the sheer joy of flying bi-planes (even when he was clueless as to HOW to fly them), and had the love of a feisty yet devoted woman (Maureen O'Hara, of course!) But, in keeping with the tone of much of the older Ford's work, Wead's life does not tie itself up into a neat, happy package, but develops into a complex near-tragedy of a man so consumed with his career that his marriage breaks down, and has his greatest dream snatched away from him when an accident cripples him. Rather than falling back on the potential aid a wife could provide, he refuses her help, relying on his Navy 'family' (represented by Dan Dailey, in one of his most popular roles) for rehabilitation. With Pearl Harbor, Wead's expertise is again called upon, and he leaves a successful career as a screenwriter to rejoin the Navy, becoming the innovator of jeep carriers...only to see his health fail him, yet again, forcing him out of the service he loved.

It is a story both sad and moving, and Wayne, so often accused of being 'bigger than life' and one-dimensional in his portrayals, again demonstrates his underrated acting talent, capturing the frustration of a man who never truly achieves the ultimate triumphs he dreams of. Wead is a 'real' person, not always likable, but someone you learn to admire for his sheer determination to contribute, and not surrender to self-pity.

With an excellent supporting cast (particularly Ken Curtis, as Wead's lifelong friend, John Dale Price), THE WINGS OF EAGLES may disappoint someone looking for a 'typical' war movie, but, as a film biography, is far more honest than Hollywood's 'usual' hokum.

'Spig' Wead would have loved it!

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