Thursday, May 04, 2006

The First "Best Picture"

I don't know how many of you read The Malcontent but I really like their "day in history" column. I wasn't aware that The Malcontent's regulars didn't. So I'm glad it's staying after the results of an unfavorable poll over there. Anything that prompts a blog entry is good. Today is, I just learned, the day back in 1927 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was formed. They're better known as simply "The Academy" or "The Oscars" Oscar obsessives can often be overheard calling them simply "AMPAS". Since 1927 the Oscars have been praised, discussed, vilified, coveted, imitated, and watched by billions including me you and virtually everyone we know...Wings was the first AMPAS choice for "Best Picture" although it was called "Production" at the time.

If you've never seen Wings you really should. I saw it for the first time in the late 80s at a revival house. I recognize that not everyone loves silent films in the way that I do but it's important to see because it's an historical landmark, the first Oscar winner. It's also a surprisingly gripping and emotional action film and the love triangle which will seem all kinds of stale now probably wasn't in 1927 before we'd seen the two men in love with the same woman (but really more concerned with each other) story we've seen thousands of times since. And this movie stars Charles 'Buddy' Rogers who is all kinds of dreamy. Some other nobodies like Clara Bow and Gary Cooper are also in it (just kidding. But seriously --Charles 'Buddy' Rogers!)

In non Wings related news, I've been on a movie blitz lately, trying to catch up on things I missed before the summer films start hitting tomorrow which is why the posts have been fewer. I'm not quite ready to say anything about United 93 but I'll start talking soon I hope. I've been missing my frequent filmgoing schedule.

12 comments:

popontherocks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
popontherocks said...

are you seeing American Dreamz?

Goran said...

All I'll say about the 1927 Oscars is that the "Best Production" category, which came up with the largely forgotten Wings as winner, was renamed "Best Picture"; while he "Best Artistic Production" category, which came up with the much-adored Sunrise as winner, was abolished. When you look for reasons to hate the Oscars, look no further than this (and, of course, 2005 - I'm still healing).

NATHANIEL R said...

true that. Sunrise shoulda been the champ.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I was gonna say was Goran said. Most think Wings won, but Sunrise equally won. Or, at least it's category sounds better than the one Wings won in. Sunrise is one of only two silents that I was really enthusiastic about. The other being The Man With The Movie Camera from Russia.

Anonymous said...

I was forced to sit through all manner of DW Griffith stuff at Uni, my favourite of which was Broken Blossoms (you don't feel as though 10 years of your life are passing you by as you do whilst sitting through Intolerance).

Only silent movie about which I'd genuinely rave would be The General. With everything else I'm just going through the respectful motions.

Rob

goatdog said...

I've been on a John Monk Saunders kick lately (he wrote the story for Wings). If you haven't seen it, check out The Eagle and the Hawk, which is a great antiwar film and also interesting to compare to Wings in terms of how they present the war. Next up for me is the reportedly Hemingwayesque "disaffected young people hanging around postwar Paris" film The Last Flight.

1927 was a hell of a year for film: AMPAS, sound, Wings, Underworld, The Jazz Singer, Metropolis, The General, The Unknown, Napoleon, and Hitchcock's first suspense film The Lodger.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Rob, at least I'm not alone in my thoughts of Intolerance. I'm still only an hour into, it is so hard to watch. Just... blah. Birth of a Nation was worse though.

Goran said...

There's plenty of great silent films out there - and I don't mean admirable, I mean genuinely excitingly great.

The greatest of them is The Passion of Joan of Arc (though it took me two viewings to realise this).

I disagree with the Intolerance dissent. I was about 13 and pretty new to movies (not to mention silent movies) when I first saw it and I loved it - I don't mean admired it, I mean I was thoroughly entertained by it. I now own the DVD and it's in my all-time Top 20 (also it's Pauline Kael's favourite American movie!). The Birth of a Nation is morally repugnant but great filmmaking. Broken Bloosoms is strikingly gorgeous to look at, though silly.

Anonymous said...

I'm respectful of your Intolerance love Goran. I found it a chore to watch, though I do remember moments of great power along the way.

But I'm grateful that you reminded me of a second silent movie about which I'd rave - Joan of Arc! Silly me. I have the Criterion DVD and clean forgot. It took me 2 viewings also. Though that might be because when I watched it at University they screened it at the wrong speed and it took about 3 hours!

Rob

NATHANIEL R said...

Passion of Joan of Arc is also my favorite silent. I admit though that I have trouble making it through Intolerance.

Anonymous said...

Tell everyone they can watch the Passion of Joan of Arc for free at MaidofHeaven.com

http://www.maidofheaven.com/joanofarc_videos_movies.asp