Monday, December 17, 2007

Second Academy Awards

Ok, let's move on to the next award ceremony. The 2nd Academy Awards were presented on April 3, 1930 at an awards banquet which was also broadcast live on the radio. This second ceremony would include a number of changes over the first. Most importantly, this was the first presentation where the winners were not announced in advance. In addition, the number of categories was reduced from twelve to seven. Note that this is the only Academy Awards ceremony where only winners were announced, not nominees. The Academy's database lists the nominees as evaluated by the judges. The voting system in place today was yet not in use. Both the 2nd and 3rd Academy Awards were held in 1930. This compensation allowed future ceremonies to always be one per year, featuring the movies of the previous calendar year.

The Best picture award went to The Broadway melody, an early musical motion picture, released on 1 February 1929. It is also the first sound picture to win the award. It included a technicolor sequence now lost and the movie is preserved now as only black and white.The plot involves the romances of musical comedy stars, set against the backstage hubbub of a Broadway revue. The film was written by Norman Houston and James Gleason from a story by Edmund Goulding, and directed by Harry Beaumont. Original music for the film was written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, including the popular hit "You Were Meant For Me." The George M. Cohan classic "Give My Regards To Broadway" was also given its talkie debut in the film. The film has since come to be seen as weak, cliché-ridden, and overly melodramatic. Even in 1929, the creaky stereotypes of backstage show biz were something less than fresh.

The Best Actor award went to Warner Baxter, who began as an extra in 1918 and quickly rose to become a star. He had his first starring role in 1921, in a film called Sheltered Daughters and he quickly became one of the most popular actors of the decade. He starred in forty-eight features during the 1920s. His most famous starring role was as the Cisco Kid in In Old Arizona (1929), the first all-talking western, for which he won the Academy Award. He also starred in Grand Canary (1934), Broadway Bill (1934) and in Kidnapped (1938).By 1936, Baxter was the highest paid actor in Hollywood, but by 1943, he had slipped to B-movie roles, and he starred in a series of Crime Doctor films for Columbia Pictures.

The Best Actress award went to Mary Pickford for her role in Coquette. She was canadian born and one of the first Canadians in Hollywood, a co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.Because her international fame was triggered by moving images, she is a watershed figure in the history of modern celebrity. And as one of silent film's most important performers and producers, her contract demands were central to shaping the Hollywood industry. In consideration of her contributions to to American cinema, the American Film Institute named Pickford 24th among the greatest female stars of all time. Pickford earned the right not only to act in her own movies, but to produce them and (through the creation of United Artists) control their distribution. She was also the first actress to receive more than a million dollars per year. Pickford starred in 52 features.The arrival of sound, however, was her undoing. She played a reckless socialite in Coquette (1929), a role for which she cut her famous hair into a 1920s bob. Pickford's hair had become a symbol of female virtue, and cutting it was front-page news. Unfortunately, though she won the Academy Award for Coquette, the public failed to respond to these more sophisticated roles. Then in her forties, Pickford was unable to play the teenage spitfires so adored by her fans; nor could she play the heroines of early sound.She retired from acting in 1933, though she continued to produce films for others. Pickford was married three times. She first married Owen Moore (1886–1939), an Irish-born silent film actor, whome she divorced while secretly in a relationship with the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Douglas Fairbanks. Pickford divorced Moore on March 2, 1920, and married Fairbanks on March 28 of the same year.The tone of their European honeymoon was set by a riot in London as fans tried to touch Pickford's hair and clothes (she was dragged from her car and badly trampled). In Paris, a similar riot erupted at an outdoor market, with Pickford locked in a meat cage for her own protection, then pulled to safety through an open window. The couple's triumphant return to Hollywood was witnessed by vast crowds who turned out to hail them at railway stations across the United States.Pickford and Fairbanks were the first actors to leave their handprints in the courtyard cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre (Pickford also left her footprints).The pressures increased when their film careers both began to founder at the end of the silent era. Fairbanks' restless nature found an outlet in almost-constant overseas travel (something which Pickford did not enjoy). The relationship was fatally damaged when Fairbanks' romance with Lady Sylvia Ashley became public in the early 1930s. This led to a long separation and a final divorce on January 10, 1936. On June 24, 1937, Pickford married her last husband, actor and band leader Charles 'Buddy' Rogers.Pickford and Rogers stayed together for over four decades until Pickford's death from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 87 in 1979.In addition to her Oscar as best actress for Coquette (1929), Mary Pickford received an Academy Honorary Award for a lifetime of achievements in 1976.

The Best Director Oscar went to Frank Lloyd. He was a british born director and won his Award for The Divine lady, the first time a director won the Oscar for a movie that wasn't nominated for best picture. He was also one of the founders of the Academy and its president from 1934-1935. Lloyd won another Oscar in 1932-33 Awards for Cavalcade.

The awards were hosted by William deMille an early member of the Academy. (His brother Cecil was a founding member.) He co-hosted the 1st Academy Awards and solo-hosted the 2nd. He also served as the president of the academy briefly. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6101 Hollywood Blvd.

No comments: