Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wings for the Eagle

Lockheed had a starring role
by Wes C.

Mike McDaniel came into possession of a big stack of old Lockheed newsletters and publications. Idly thumbing through one from 1942, he came across mention of a Warner Brothers movie of that year that was shot in and around the plant, using actual Lockheed workers: “Wings for the Eagle.” What? A film shot at Lockheed? We were both immediately intrigued—after all, both my father and I had worked in the plant and knew it well.

I checked Netflix and YouTube for copies. Nothing! Then I checked with my film noir buddy who specializes in hard-to find movies—nothing there, either. But he happened to notice that TCM was broadcasting it the very next day (http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/333855%7C0/Wings-for-the-Eagle.html)! So, he recorded it for me and I watched it.

The film is corny and propagandistic by today's standards, and contains many film clich├ęs. (For instance, when somebody in a film turns on a radio in 1941, you know you're about to hear a flash bulletin announcing the bombing of Pearl Harbor.) But think back. In 1942, we were fighting for our survival, and films of this type were well received with the general public. They were even necessary. As for me, I'm grateful that there's such good film documentation of what it took it build aircraft at Lockheed in the 1940s. I love the interior plant shots—it reminds me of when I worked there in 1979 and 1980.