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Burnt Wings (1920 film)

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Burnt Wings
Film poster
Directed byChristy Cabanne
Written byHal Hoadley
Christy Cabanne
Percy Heath
Based onthe play, "The Primrose Path"
by Bayard Veiller
StarringJosephine Hill
Frank Mayo
Rudolph Christians
CinematographyAlfred Gosden
Release date
  • March 29, 1920 (1920-03-29) (US)[1]
Running time
5 reels
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

Burnt Wings is a 1920 American drama film directed by Christy Cabanne and starring Josephine Hill, Frank Mayo, and Rudolph Christians. It was released on March 29, 1920.


Hill and Mayo in the film
Hill and Mayo in the film

Ned Templeton is a struggling artist in Paris. Their straits become even more dire when Ned is stricken down by illness. His doctor prescribes rest and good food, in addition to medication, to get him back to health. Without money his wife, Joan Templeton, is further threatened with eviction by their landlord, who suggests that there are relatively easy ways for a pretty young woman to make money. With no other alternative, Joan seeks out a wealthy benefactor, who she has an affair with in exchange for enough money to see her and Ned by, and Ned back to health.

Once he regains his health, he begins to become successful, and the couple returns to the United States, where his career really begins to take off. Helen Cartwright is impressed by his work, and convinces her father, James, to have his portrait done by Ned, and become his patron. When James realizes that Helen is in love with Ned, he also understands that the only thing standing in the way of his daughter's happiness is Joan. He uses his influence to add to Ned's success, as well as driving a wedge between Ned and Joan, who begin drifting apart, each thinking the other no longer cares. Ned and Helen begin to draw close to one another.

As a way to drive the final spike in her marriage, James approaches Joan and offers her a large sum of money to divorce Ned. Joan refuses, but James and her both realize that it was James who was her rich benefactor in Paris. Thinking he has the trump card, James goes back to Ned and tells him of Joan's infidelity in Paris. However, it does not have the effect that he had intended. Ned realizes what Joan sacrificed for him, and tells Helen he is returning to Joan. Helen understands, and Ned and Joan are reunited.

Cast list


Hill discovering Mayo ill in Paris
Hill discovering Mayo ill in Paris

Bayard Veiller's play had premiered on Broadway in May 1907,[2] and had been reprised during the 1919 season.[3] The working title of the film was The Primrose Path, the same as Veiller's play. In December 1919 it was announced that the play was being adapted for the screen by Universal.[4] Initially, Lola Gonzales was tagged for the lead role of Joan Templeton. Gonzales was a professional model.[5] However, a week later, it was announced that Josephine Hill had replaced Gonzales in the cast. At the same time it was announced that Frank Mayo, Mae Busch, Beatrice Burnham, and Rudolph Christians were also members of the cast.[6] In early January 1920, the name was changed to Burnt Wings.[7] The picture wrapped filming by mid-February 1920.[8] In February it was announced that the picture would be released on March 29, 1920.[9][10]


Exhibitors Herald gave the film a good review. They complimented both the production and the direction, and singled out the performances of Frank Mayo, Josephine Hill, and Betty Blythe. They were also complimentary of the writing work of Bayard Veiller.[11] Motion Picture News gave the film a more average review, calling it "Just an ordinary program feature". They complimented the work of Mayo, Hill, and Blythe, and particularly highlighted the character work of Rudolph Christians. They felt the cinematography, direction, and settings were average.[12] The Moving Picture World enjoyed the picture. While they did not care for the subject matter of the film, they felt the acting was very good. They felt Hill, though inexperienced, did quite well as Mayo's wife, and said that Blythe played her role "with charm". They were especially complimentary of Christians, in his role as the film's heavy. They particularly enjoyed the staging of the film, with "...some beautiful exteriors and interiors.[13]


  1. ^ "Burnt Wings". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 6, 2018. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  2. ^ "The Primrose Path". Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  3. ^ "Burnt Wings Featured by Universal". Motion Picture News. March 27, 1920. p. 2923. Retrieved December 22, access
  4. ^ "Heraldgrams". Exhibitors Herald. December 20, 1919. p. 42. Retrieved December 22, access
  5. ^ J.C. Jessen (January 3, 1920). "In and Out of West Coast Studios: Universal Newsettes". Motion Picture News. p. 462. Retrieved December 22, access
  6. ^ J.C. Jessen (January 10, 1920). "In and Out of West Coast Studios: Universal Newsettes". Motion Picture News. p. 659. Retrieved December 22, access
  7. ^ "Hollywood Hokum". Motion Picture News. January 10, 1920. p. 660. Retrieved December 22, access
  8. ^ "Studio Briefs". Exhibitors Herald. February 21, 1920. p. 65. Retrieved December 22, access
  9. ^ ""Overland Red" Is First Release of Universal's "S.R.O. Twelve" Series". The Moving Picture World. February 14, 1920. p. 1099. Retrieved December 22, access
  10. ^ "Frank Mayo in Burnt Wings". Motion Picture News. February 28, 1920. p. 2129. Retrieved December 22, access
  11. ^ "Frank Mayo in Burnt Wings". Exhibitors Herald. March 20, 1920. p. 55. Retrieved December 22, access
  12. ^ "Burnt Wings". Motion Picture News. February 28, 1920. p. 2185. Retrieved December 22, access
  13. ^ "Burnt Wings". The Moving Picture World. February 28, 1920. p. 1525. Retrieved December 22, access
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Burnt Wings (1920 film)
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