Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The first Academy Award Winner for Best Picture at the first annual AMPAS award ceremony in 1929.

On May 16, 1929, the first Academy Award ceremony was held at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to honor outstanding film achievements of 1927 and 1928. The winners were announced after a banquet in the Blossom room. After dinner Douglas Fairbanks, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, stood up and gave a speech. Then, with William C. deMille, he called the winners up to the table and handed them their awards. Although, there were no surprises as the names had been announced three months ahead of the ceremony.

The statuettes that were presented to the first Academy Awards winners were almost the same to those handed out today. Sculpted by George Stanley, The Academy Award of Merit (Oscar's official name) was a knight, made of solid bronze, holding a sword and standing on a reel of film.

For the next few years, the results were released in advance to the press under secret ballot. It was only when the Los Angeles Times, broke the rules and published the winners ahead of the show, that they went to the sealed envelopes.

Wings.. was entered in a number of categories, but in contrast with later ceremonies, there were two awards that were equally the top award of the night. These were Unique and Artistic Production, won by Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans and Outstanding Picture (later renamed Best Picture), won by Wings which went on to also win Best Engineering Effects for Roy Pomeroy.

The following year, the Academy dropped the Unique and Artistic Production award, and decided that the award won by Wings, was the highest honor that could be awarded. The statuette, not yet known as the "Oscar", was presented by Douglas Fairbanks to Clara Bow on behalf of the producers, Adolph Zukor and B.P. Schulberg .

Wings(1927). A silent film about two World War I fighter pilot friends, both in love with the same girl, produced by Lucien Hubbard, directed by William A. Wellman and released by Paramount Pictures.

Wings.. was the first of two silent films, the other being The Artist at the 84th Academy Awards in 2012, to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Clara Bow and Gary Cooper

Wings stars: Clara Bow, Charles Rogers and Richard Arlen. Gary Cooper's role helped launch his Hollywood career and also marked the beginning of his affair with Clara Bow.

The film, a war picture, was rewritten to accommodate Clara Bow, as she was Paramount's biggest star, but she wasn't happy about her part: "Wings is ..a man's picture and I'm just the whipped cream on top of the pie".

Please click here to read past Wings movie review.


  1. Love the pic you chose for this article. Wings is often forgotten today, but it was a technical marvel.

  2. Kim, This is my favorite silen film that I have seen so far.. In my book it is a must see film.

  3. I am ashamed to say that I have never seen this film. I know!! And I call myself a classic film blogger. (Hangs head in shame)

  4. silverscreenings, LOL.. You need to put this silent film, on the top of your "must see" list of films...

  5. Well SilverScreenings is not alone in hanging her head in shame. I have not seen this film, and what's more, I call myself a mega-huge Gary Cooper fan. You know I completely and totally adore that man and that I have long been on a quest to see as many of his films as I can. So, I checked my library for all the Coop films they had, and when I saw "Wings" in the system, I put a hold on it without knowing anything about it, except that Gary Cooper was in it and that it won the first Academy Award for best picture.

    Imagine my surprise to discover it was a silent film!! Of course, if I had bothered to pay attention to the year, I would have known that. But, alas, it wasn't until I popped it into the player that I made that discovery. I have not cultivated a taste for silents, so I turned it off after 20 minutes...never even seeing my beloved Coop.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.