Arts & Culture » Movies

Silents are golden



The pioneering filmmaker and inventor August Lumière once said, "Our invention can be exploited for a certain time as a scientific curiosity, but apart from that, it has no commercial future whatsoever."

OK, so he missed the mark on that prediction. But the irony of Lumière's statement is that the quest for commercial success is often the very thing that strips the beauty out of the medium. As this year's Academy Awards exemplified, it's not high box office receipts, but rather poignant themes and honest storytelling that mark true cinematic successes.

In that vein, the Detroit Film Theatre, in cooperation with the Library of Congress' Song of America Tour, presents a series of silent films that come from an era predating the heavily commercialized and duplicitous Hollywood scene. Last week, the World War I flick, 1925's The Big Parade, was shown to a packed house. This week the DFT presents the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, 1927's Wings.

Directed by William A. Wellman, Wings (also set during World War I) featured aerial cinematography like nothing that had come before, thrilling audiences with its jaw-dropping dogfights. The film stars flapper-era "it" girl Clara Bow and a very young Gary Cooper.

Next week, the series will conclude with a showing of The Wedding March, the 1928 movie about impoverished playboy Prince Nicki. It stars a pre-King Kong Fay Wray. Tickets are selling out fast, so reserve yours quickly.


Wings shows at 7 p.m., Sunday, March 19, at the Detroit Film Theatre (inside the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-2323).

Eve Doster is the listings editor for Metro Times. Send comments to


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