The Wings of Eagles (1957)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Wings of Eagles Videos

The Wings of Eagles Photos

Movie Info

The Wings of Eagles is filmmaker John Ford's paean to his frequent collaborator--and, it is rumored, drinking buddy--Cmdr. Frank "Spig" Wead. John Wayne stars as Wead, a reckless WW1 Naval aviator who (it says here) was instrumental in advancing the cause of American "air power". In private life, Wead becomes estranged from his wife Minnie (Maureen O'Hara) after the death of their baby. Drinking heavily, Wead tumbles down the stairs of his home, and as a result he is apparently paralyzed for life. With the help of happy-go-lucky Navy mechanic Carson (Dan Dailey), Wead is able to regain minimal use of his legs, but it seems clear that his Naval career is over. Fortunately, he manages to find work as a prolific Hollywood screenwriter, and after the attack of Pearl Harbor he is called back to active duty to oversee the construction of "jeep carriers". Not one of John Ford's more coherent films--in fact, it's downright sloppy at times--The Wings of Eagles nonetheless contains several highlights, not least of which are the "I'm gonna move that toe" scene with John Wayne and Dan Dailey, and Ward Bond's inside-joke performance as irreverent film director "John Dodge".
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

Watch it now


John Wayne
as Frank W. 'Spig' Wead
Maureen O'Hara
as Min Wead
Dan Dailey
as 'Jughead' Carson
Ward Bond
as John Dodge
Ken Curtis
as John Dale Price
Edmund Lowe
as Adm. Moffett
Kenneth Tobey
as Capt. Herbert Allen Hazard
James Todd
as Jack Travis
Barry Kelley
as Capt. Jock Clark
Sig Rumann
as Party Manager
Henry O'Neill
as Capt. Spear
Dorothy Jordan
as Rose Brentmann
Peter Ortiz
as Lt. Charles Dexter
Louis Jean Heydt
as Dr. John Keye
Tige Andrews
as 'Arizona' Pincus
William Tracy
as Air Force Officer
Harlan Warde
as Executive Officer
Jack Pennick
as Joe McGuffey
William Henry
as Naval aide
Alberto Morin
as Manager #2
Mimi Gibson
as Lila Wead
Evelyn Rudie
as Doris Wead
Charles Trowbridge
as Adm. Crown
Mae Marsh
as Nurse Crumley
Janet Lake
as Nurse
Fred Graham
as Officer in brawl
Stuart Holmes
as Producer
Olive Carey
as Bridy O'Faolain
Sam Harris
as Patient
May McAvoy
as Nurse
William Paul Lowery
as 'Commodore'
Chuck Roberson
as Officer
James Flavin
as MP at Garden Party
Cliff Lyons
as Officer in Hangar
Veda Ann Borg
as Lovely
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Wings of Eagles

All Critics (4)

A bizarre, but touching, comical biopic.

Full Review… | January 15, 2015
Combustible Celluloid

Wants to be epic in scope but ends up feeling like ham-fisted CliffsNotes version of a man's life. The film loiters way, way too long on Frank Wead's early days as a hell-raising test pilot, then skips ahead through long sections of his life.

Full Review… | April 24, 2011
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Though sentimental as a biopic of Navy hero Frank (Sig) Wead, John Ford's film has old-fashioned charm, a result of John Wayne's lead performance and his chemistry with Maureen O'Hara.

Full Review… | July 15, 2008

This routine sentimental biopic is directed with much feeling by John Ford.

Full Review… | February 8, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Wings of Eagles

Often terrific biopic that has some tremendously sharp visuals, but seems a bit cliche at times. John Wayne plays one of his more vulnerable characters here though he doesn't have much time to show it because there's so much action going on all the time. Wead lived an interesting life, and it shows.

Jeff Bachman
Jeff Bachman

John Ford's follow-up to The Searchers is surprisingly un-remarkable. A biopic of Frank "Spig" Wead, a solider turned cripple turned screenwriter, "The Wings of Eagles is an impeccably crafted piece of fluffy propaganda.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer


An excellent and often-moving biopic about navy-flier-turned-screenwriter Frank "Spig" Wead, this film features fine dramatic performances from John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Features the usual John Ford elements of sentimentality and brawling slapstick, but there's also an underlying poignancy that makes this a treat.

Dean McKenna
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

The Wings of Eagles Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Wings of Eagles on our Movie forum!

News & Features