Starring: Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, Hobart Cavanaugh, Roscoe Kearns, and Dean Jagger
Director: James Flood
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars
Ken Gordon, a pilot and avionics innovator (Grant) is on the verge of perfecting improved autopilot and guidance systems that will allow pilots to fly and land planes in even the worst visibility conditions when he is blinded in an accident. Stunt pilot Sheila Mason (Loy) and Gordon's assistant and mechanic Mac (Cavanaugh) help him carry on his work, with Mason secretly providing the funding he needs and Mac facilitating the ruse. When the extremely proud Gordon realizes what they've been doing, will his anger kill both his long friendship with Mac, as well as the growing love he and Mason share?
"Wings in the Dark" is a fast-paced film that has a talented cast performing in a story that delivers a perfect mix of romance, humor, and suspense. While the subject matter lends itself to over to excessive sappiness and melodrama, this film mostly stays clear of those morasses, only briefly straying into the melodramatic... but with Myrna Loy doing the over-emoting, it's hard to dislike it.
Meanwhile, there's nothing to dislike about the on-screen pairing of Cary Grant and Loy. While the script sets up the eventual romance between the two characters, it's the onscreen charisma between the actors playing them that really sells it. Grant and Loy play so well off each other that it's it feels perfectly believable that they'd both, in turn, take extreme risks to save one another during the film's tense climax, because from very early in the film, they feel like the perfect couple.
"Wings in the Dark" was the first of three times Grant and Loy were paired on screen, and it is the least well known of them; Grant's star was still climbing and Loy was completing her transition from her vamp-ish roles to playing "the perfect wife". Both stars, however, give excellent performances, and they are buoyed by a fine supporting cast, with Hobart Cavanaugh (as Gordon's taciturn right-hand man), and Roscoe Kearns (as Mason's headline hungry agent and publicist) being particularly effective and fun in their parts. As for Kearn's character of Nick Williams, he is the source of most of the bad things that happen to the main characters, directly and indirectly, but he is played with such charm that you'll think as warmly of him as you do of all the other characters in the film as it unfolds. All-in-all, this is a film that deserves more attention that it's gotten over the years.
"Wings in the Dark" is one of five, relatively obscure films from early in Cary Grant career included in the Screen Legends Collection: Cary Grant. It's the first one of them that I've watched, and if the others in the set are even half as good, it was a bargain.