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Academy Premiere Of 1927′s Oscar Winner ‘Wings’ Launches Paramount’s Centennial

By | Wednesday January 18, 2012 @ 6:25pm PST
Pete Hammond

At the second-floor entrance to the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences there is a one-sheet poster of Wings, the first-ever Oscar winner for Best Picture and to date the only silent film ever to win.  Next to it is a one-sheet of the most recent Best Picture winner (The King’s Speech) which remains in that place of honor for a year. How ironic then would it be if major contender The Artist were to win, creating a never-dreamed of Academy bookend for two black-and-white silent movies separated by 84 years of Oscar history.

There was no mention of The Artist Tuesday night at the Academy during introductions to the premiere screening of the restored Wings, but the feeling that history could repeat itself this year was definitely something felt in that room.  The Academy program was the kickoff to Paramount’s yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary, and in addition to screenings of its first Best Picture winner Tuesday and Wednesday the Academy is displaying posters and memorabilia from the studio’s storied history in its Grand Lobby through February 6.

It’s a big year for studio 100ths with Universal also celebrating a centennial and promising yearlong events and restorations just like Paramount. In fact Academy President Tom Sherak announced last night that the Acad will also be hosting a similar event for Universal later in the year. But this night belonged to William Wellman’s masterful Wings which at a cost of $2 million in 1927 was the most expensive movie to date in Hollywood. In addition to its Best Picture Oscar, Sherak noted it won an Engineering Effects award and was a true blockbuster — “the ‘Star Wars’ of 1927 that had actors doing their own flying stunts” he said in his opening remarks.
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Academy To Screen First Best Pic Winner ‘Wings’ For Paramount’s 100th Birthday

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences said today that it will screen its first Best Picture Oscar winner, the 1927 silent film Wings, on January 18 next year as part of a celebration of Paramount Pictures’ 100th anniversary. Tickets are available beginning today. The movie, which starred Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper, first premiered in 1927. It also was the only silent film to win the Best Picture Oscar, something worth noting especially this year with the awards buzz surrounding Michel Hazanavicius’ black-and-white silent The Artist, which the Weinstein Co is distributing and mounting a series Oscar campaign for after sweeping it up at Cannes; it already won the Best Pic award from the New York Film Critics Circle earlier this week. The Wings screening next month will be a premiere of a restoration by Paramount with the help of the Academy Film Archive, complete with live-music accompaniment on the organ by Clark Wilson. It’s part of the Academy’s Paramount celebration that includes the exhibition “Paramount’s Movie Milestones: A Centennial Celebration,” which features photographs, posters, design sketches and personal correspondence in conjunction with the studio’s birthday. The exhibit will run January 6-February 5 in the Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery.

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