Picture of the Week #67: The 1st Academy Awards


The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held on 16th May 1929, though it honoured films released from 1st August 1927 – 1st August 1928. This weekend, while everyone’s fretting over who’s wearing whose frock, and who’s going to win what, remember that in 1929 everyone already knew who had won months in advance: the ceremony was just a formality, a gala dinner for the winners, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks and lasting only 15 minutes (yes, really). They also gave awards to the best film of the year, one of the best films of all time, Sunrise;

Janet Gaynor was voted Best Actress, not for a single role, but for her performances in Sunrise, Seventh Heaven and Street Angel. Emil Jannings was Best Actor for The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command. Charlie Chaplin received an honorary award for The Circus,

The Best Picture winner (or, as it was termed then, Outstanding Picture, Production) at the first ceremony, the only one that was not broadcast on TV or radio, was Wings, starring Clara Bow. Lewis Milestone (comedy, for Two Arabian Nights) and Frank Borzage (drama, for Seventh Heaven) were both awarded Best Director. Oh, how things have changed.

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