4 Shots From 4 Inaugural Oscar Winners: Wings, Sunrise, The Last Command, Seventh Heaven

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today is the 90th anniversary of the very first Academy Awards ceremony!

On May 16th, 1929, a private dinner was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California.  The dinner was largely meant to celebrate the establishment of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  The brainchild of Louis B. Mayer, the AMPAS was founded to help mediate labor disputes between the studios and the unions.  As almost an afterthought, it was decided that AMPAS would also give out annual awards to honor the best films of the year.

12 awards were handed out on May 16th, before an audience of 270 people.  The entire awards ceremony took 15 minutes.  That’s quite a contrast to what the Academy eventually became.

In honor of that 15-minute ceremony, here’s….

4 Shots From 4 Films Honored At The Very First Oscar Ceremony

Wings (1927, dir by William Wellman) Won The Outstanding Production Awards

Sunrise (1927, dir by F.W. Murnau) Won Best Unique and Artistic Picture

The Last Command (1928, dir by Josef von Sternberg) Won Best Actor — Emil Jannings

Seventh Heaven (1927, dir by Frank Borzage) Winner Best Actress — Janet Gaynor

Along with her performance in Seventh Heaven, Janet Gaynor was also honored for her work in Street Angel and Sunrise.  Emil Jannings was honored for his work in both The Last Command and The Way of all Flesh,

Here’s what else won at the inaugural Oscar ceremony:

Best Direction, Comedy Picture — Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Knights

Best Direction, Drama Picture — Frank Borzage for Seventh Heaven

Best Original Story — Ben Hecht for Underworld

Best Adaptation — Benjamin Glazer for Seventh Heaven, based on the play by Austin Strong

Best Art Direction — William Cameron Menzies for The Dove and Tempest

Best Cinematography — Charles Rosher and Karl Struss for Sunrise

Best Engineering Effects — Roy Pomeroy for Wings

Best Title Writing — Joseph Farnham for Fair Co-Ed; Laugh, Clown, Laugh; and Telling the World.

Spy in the House of Love: Alfred Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS (RKO 1946) — cracked rear viewer

You won’t find a more glamorous pair of spies than Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Alfred Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS… except maybe in other films that feature Cary Grant as a spy! The Master of Suspense once again goes full speed ahead in bringing this exciting espionage caper to the screen loaded with the usual “Hitchcock Touches”, and […]

via Spy in the House of Love: Alfred Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS (RKO 1946) — cracked rear viewer

Darkness on the Edge of Town: WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (20th Century Fox 1950)

cracked rear viewer


I recorded WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS way back in June, and haven’t watched it until just recently. It was well worth the wait, for this is one of the finest noirs I’ve seen yet. Director Otto Preminger reunited with the stars of his film LAURA, Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney, to give us a bleak crime drama that more than holds its own with the best films noir of the era.

Police Detective Mark Dixon (Andrews) is a proto-Dirty Harry cop, a tough SOB not above laying the smackdown on New York City’s criminal element. Another assault charge leads to Mark being demoted by his superiors. Mark’s got a reason for his brutality tactics, though: his father was a criminal, and he’s psychologically compelled to clean up the corruption in his city.


He’s particularly got a hair across his ass about gambling czar Tommy Scalise (Gary Merrill), who was set up in…

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Lisa Marie Looks At The Front Page (dir. by Lewis Milestone)

As part of my efforts to watch every film ever nominated for best picture, I recently watched 1931’s The Front Page (which lost to Cimarron, the first western to ever win best picture). 

The Front Page, which is based on a broadway play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, is the story of Chicago newspaper editor Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou) and his favorite reporter, Hildy Johnson (Pat O’Brien).  Hildy is planning on retiring from the newspaper business so he can get married and take a job in advertising.  Walter is determined to keep his star reporter.  Walter’s attempts to keep Hildy from quitting are played out against a larger background of civil corruption, cynical reporters, and an escaped death row inmate who ends up hiding out at the newspaper. 

It’s odd to watch a film like The Front Page today.  It’s not just the fact that the movie is technically primitive but that the film is such a product of its time and a lot has changed since 1931.  This is one of those old films where African-Americans are continually referred to as being “colored” and the modern-day audience cringes in discomfort and tries to figure out the correct way to react.  As a reviewer, I guess I’m supposed to explain how you should react but I really can’t say.  Personally, I look at a film like this as a reflection of its time and the casual, unthinking racism that was a part of the culture back then.  Then again, I’m not the one being called “a pickaninny.”  This is also another one of those old films where women are presented as distractions and the only work that’s worth doing is man’s work.  Oddly enough, the sexism didn’t surprise me as much as the racism.  Then again, sexism is still socially acceptable while our modern, patriarchal society now insists that people, at the very least, pretend not to be racist.

Still, as dated as many of the film’s attitudes may be, the movie’s cynicism and it’s portrayal of journalists as essentially being a bunch of biased, blood-sucking leeches does give the film a slightly more contemporary feel than most films from the 30s.  As Hildy and Walter, Pat O’Brien and Adolphe Menjou are both well cast and the rest of the film’s characters are played by a strong collection of character actors.  A surprisingly large amount of the cynical one-liners still work and, once you get used to the film’s pre-CGI style of filmmaking, it occasionally show some genuine visual flair.

Personally, I think that The Front Page makes a lot more sense once you acknowledge the unstated fact that Walter and Hildy are former lovers.  Hollywood realized the same thing because The Front Page was later remade as His Girl Friday with Rosalind Russell taking over the Hildy Johnson role.

Anyway, for the curious, here’s The Front Page