This film tells the stories of Al Ludlow (Holden), Jeff Young (Milland), and John Cassidy (Wayne Morris) who have signed up with the Army Air Corps. It follows them as they deal with training, tragedy, and women.
This film won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1941 and was based on Bernie Lay Jr's book of the same name.
I Wanted Wings shows the following tropes:
- Ace Pilot: Both John and Jeff are ones. Al eventually gets his wings, too.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: When Jeff complains about Carolyn and her rejecting him as the model for her magazine photo shoot:Jeff: The lady with lens is on the loose!
- Betty and Veronica: Sally and Carolyn vie for Jeff, although Carolyn has the upper hand.
- The Ditz: John Cassidy might have been dropped on his head.
- Gold Digger: Sally is after Jeff not only because hes rich, but to spite Al. Shell stop at nothing to get what she wants from Jeff even pretend she's pregnant.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: Sally counts even if the US hadnt entered WWII yet.
- Grumpy Old Man: The "colonel" who hangs around the base complains that no one respects the fact that he was the first man in the air (in a balloon) during the Civil War.
- How We Got Here: The film begins with Jeff Young (Milland) being court-martialled for the crash of a B-17 Bomber and the death of a civilian woman on board and the rest of the story is told in flashbacks.
- Just Plane Wrong: Averted: As Paramount had full access to the Air Corps planes (B-17 bombers) and their training fields. The United States Army Air Corps gave the film 1,160 aircraft for the flying sequences.
- Oh, Crap!: When the boys go out for a joyride, John crashes and dies.