By Wes Clark and Mike McDaniel

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! So he recorded it for me and I watched it.

The film is corny and propagandistic by today's standards, and contains many film cliches. (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. 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 1940's. I love the interior plant shots - it reminds me of when I worked there in 1979 and 1980.


Click here for the IMDb entry for the film

Click here for the trailer for the film on youtube

Click here for an 18 1/2 minute selection of Lockheed plant and Burbank shots from the film on youtube

What follows is text and photos from the July 10, 1942 issue of the Lockheed-Vega Star.

Premiere Of "Wings For The Eagle" July 15

Ann Sheridan in Warner Bros. Feature Filmed Within Gates of Lockheed

Premiere showing of "Wings for the Eagle," filmed by Warner Bros. within the gates of the Lockheed plant, will be held for Swing Shift employees of Lock­heed and Vega at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 15 (after the regular Tuesday night shift), at Warner Bros. Hollywood The­ater.

This is the first Swing Shift premiere in Hollywood motion picture history.

The picture, which stars Ann Sheri­dan, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson and George Tobias under the direction of Lloyd Bacon, opens to the general public at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 15, at War­ner Bros. Downtown Theater, and 12:30 p.m. the same day at Warner's Hollywood.

Written and filmed as Warner Bros.' tribute to the men and women in the aircraft industry, "Wings for the Eagle" marks the first time that a motion pic­ture company has been permitted to bring its cameras inside a big airplane factory for other than stock shots. The huge Lockheed plant opened its doors - doubly guarded in war time - to per­mit Warner Bros. to tell the story of the men and women who are behind the men behind the guns.

The story is that of men and women who work in the aircraft industry and many thousands of Lockheed employees at work are seen in the fllm. The picture presents the manufacture of P-38 "Light­ning" interceptors and Hudson bombers, shows close-ups of work on the assembly line and in other parts of the factory and winds up with Ann Sheridan work­ing in the Personnel Department.

Every important member of the cast plays the part of a Lockheed employee.

The film has been approved by Lockheed and military officials as an important contribution to the record of wartime effort.

The plot touches several timely problems of the aircraft industry - the "essential defense work" angle, the exclusion of aliens with sons in Uncle Sam's service, and the vital drive for production. It ends when the right man enlists, the "indispensable man" stays in the factory to turn them out, and the "2000th bomber" roars from the assembly line ahead of schedule.

[It also touches on the problem Burbank had with housing for all those workers and the traffic jams around the plant during shift changes. - Wes]

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