The Seventh Annual Academy Awards: 1920

William S. Hart, the Third President of AMPAS

William S. Hart, the Third President of AMPAS

1920 was a year of many changes.

On January 16th, the 18th Amendment went into effect and prohibition became the law of the land.  Suddenly, it was illegal to transport and sell alcohol in the United States.  As social reformers rejoiced, the government grew and ordinary citizens started to hoard whatever liquor they had.  (Selling alcohol was illegal but drinking it was not.)  Perhaps the people happiest about prohibition were the gangsters who now had a totally new market to exploit.

On August 26th, the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed and, finally, all women were granted the right to vote.  And it came not a minute too late because it was time for the United States to elect a new president.  Weary after the nonstop drama of  8 years of Woodrow Wilson, the American electorate turned to Warren G. Harding, a little-known Republican who promised both a “return to normalcy” and to keep the U.S. out of the League of Nations.  On November 2nd, Harding was elected in a landslide, defeating Democrat James M. Cox.

And finally, the AMPAS also elected a new president.  After serving two successful terms as president of the Academy, Thomas H. Ince declined to run for a third term.  The award-winning actor William S. Hart was elected to take his place, easily defeating producer Lewis J. Selznick.  As President, Hart introduced one major change the Academy Awards.  In recognition to the growing number of films being produced annually, he suggested increasing the number of best picture nominees from 6 to 10.

As for the awards themselves, 1920 was perhaps the first year in which the Academy attempted to fix a previous error.  The previous year, Bolshevism on Trial had defeated D.W. Griffith‘s Broken Blossoms for best picture.  When Griffith released the epic melodrama Way Down East in 1920, there was little doubt that this would be the year that a Griffith film would finally win the award for best picture.

Despite the fact that Way Down East‘s victory was something of a foregone conclusion, the Academy still made history with the nominations.  Oscar Micheaux became the first African-American to be nominated for both best director and best picture for his film Within Our Gates.  (Ironically, Within Our Gates was meant to serve as a repudiation of Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.)  For her performance in Within Our Gates, Evelyn Preer received her second consecutive nomination.

As well, bothers John Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore both received nominations for best actor.  It was John’s second nomination and Lionel’s first.

The Awards Ceremony was held on February 20th, 1921 at the newly opened Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California.  The ceremony was again hosted by comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.  Along with the Barrymore brothers, Arbuckle was nominated for best actor that year, though all three of them lost to Charles Ogle.  However, Arbuckle did receive an honorary award, thanking him for his “service to the Academy.”  Everyone agreed that Arbuckle had somehow managed to make the first alcohol-free Academy Awards ceremony bearable.  Indeed, as the ceremony came to an end, there was no one as beloved in Hollywood, and perhaps in America, as Fatty Arbuckle.

In just a few months, that would all change.

Fatty Arbuckle, the most popular man in Hollywood

Fatty Arbuckle, the most popular man in Hollywood

The Seventh Annual Academy Awards

(Honoring films released in America from January 1st to December 31st, 1920.  

Winners are listed in bold and starred.)

Best Picture

The Devil’s Pass Key.  Produced by Carl Laemmle.  Universal.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Produced by Adolph Zukor.  Paramount.

The Mark of Zorro.  Produced by Douglas Fairbanks.  United Artists.

Over the Hill To The Poorhouse.  Produced by William Fox.  Fox Film Corporation.

The Penalty.  Produced by Samuel Goldwyn.  Goldwyn.

The Round-Up.  Produced by Jesse L. Lasky.  Paramount.

The Saphead.  Produced by Marcus Loew, John Golden, and Winchell Smith. Metro Pictures.

Sex.  Produced by J. Parker Read, Jr.  J. Parker Read Productions.

*Way Down East.  Produced by D.W. Griffith.  United Artists.

Within Our Gates.  Produced by Oscar Micheaux.  Micheaux Film.

Way Down East

Way Down East

Best Actor

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in The Round-Up.  Paramount.

John Barrymore in Dr. Jekyll and My. Hyde.  Paramount.

Lionel Barrymore in The Copperhead.  Paramount.

Douglas Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro.  United Artists.

Buster Keaton in The Saphead.  Metro Pictures.

*Charles Ogle in Treasure Island. Paramount.

Charles Ogle

Charles Ogle

Best Actress

*Mary Carr in Over The Hill To The Poorhouse.  Fox Film Corporation.

Elsie Ferguson in Lady Rose’s Daughter.  Paramount.

Lillian Gish in Way Down East.  United Artists.

Louise Glaum in Sex.  J. Parker Read Productions.

Mary Pickford in Suds.  United Artists.

Evelyn Preer in Within Our Gates.  Micheaux Pictures.

Mary Carr

Mary Carr

Best Director, Dramatic Picture

William F. Alder for Shipwrecked Among Cannibals.  Universal.

Tod Browning for Outside the Law.  Universal.

*D.W. Griffith for Way Down East.  United Artists.

Oscar Micheaux for Within Our Gates.  Micheaux Pictures

Fred Niblo for Sex.  J. Parker Read Productions.

Erich Von Stroheim for The Devil’s Pass Key.  Universal.

D.W. Griffith

D.W. Griffith

Best Director, Comedic Picture

Herbert Blache and Winchell Smith for The Saphead.  Metro Pictures.

John Francis Dillon for Suds.  United Artists.

Victor Fleming for The Mollycoddle.  United Artists.

John Ince for Old Lady 31.  Metro Pictures.

*George Melford for The Round-Up.  Paramount.

Paul Powell for Pollyanna.  United Artists.

George Melford

George Melford

Best Screenplay

*The Devil’s Pass Key.  Erich Von Stroheim.  Universal.

If I Were King. E.  Lloyd Sheldon.  Fox Film Corporation.

Over the Hill To The Poorhouse. Paul Sloane.  Fox Film Corporation.

The Penalty.  Charles Kenyon.  Goldwyn.

Sex.  C. Gardner Sullivan.  J. Parker Read Productions.

Way Down East. Anthony Paul Kelly.  United Artists.

Erich Von Stroheim

Erich Von Stroheim

Best Art Direction

The Devil’s Pass Key.  Richard Day. Universal.

The Last of the Mohicans.  Ben Carre. First National.

The Mark of Zorro. Edward Langley.  United Artists.

Outside the Law. Elmer Sheeley.  Universal.

*Sex.  W.L. Heywood.  J. Parker Read Productions.

Way Down East.  Clark Robinson.  United Artists.

Sex

Sex

Best Cinematography

The Copperhead.  Faxon M. Dean.  Paramount.

The Devil’s Pass Key. Ben F. Reynolds.  Universal.

The Jack-Knife Man. Ira H. Morgan.  First National.

The Last of the Mohicans. Phillip R. DuBois.  First National.

*Sex.  Charles J. Stumar.  J. Parker Read Productions.

Way Down East. G.W. Bitzer.  United Artists.

Sex

Sex

Best Engineering Effects

The Last of the Mohicans.  Maurice Tourneur. First National.

*The Mark of Zorro. Richard Talmadge.  United Artists.

The Penalty.  Lon Chaney.  Goldwyn.

Way Down East.  D.W. Griffith. United Artists.

The Mark of Zorro

The Mark of Zorro

Best Title Writing

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Clara Beranger.  Paramount.

The Last of the Mohicans.  Robert Dillon.  First National.

Outside the Law. Gardner Bradford.  Universal.

The Penalty. Charles Kenyon.  Goldwyn.

*The Saphead.  June Mathis.  Metro Pictures.

Within Our Gates.  Oscar Micheaux.  Micheaux Film.

The Saphead

The Saphead

Special Award

To Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle for his years of service to the Academy

Roscoe Arbuckle

Roscoe Arbuckle

Films By Number of Nominations

7 Nominations — Way Down East

6 Nominations — Sex

5 Nominations — The Devil’s Passkey

4 Nominations — The Last of the Mohicans, The Mark of Zorro, The Penalty, The Saphead, Within Our Gates

3 Nominations — Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Outside the Law, Over The Hill To The Poorhouse, The Round-up

2 Nominations — The Copperhead, Suds

1 Nominations — If I Were King, The Jack-Knife Man, Lady Rose’s Daughter, The Mollycoddle, Old Lady 31, Pollyanna, Shipwrecked Among The Cannibals, Treasure Island

Films By Number of Awards:

2 Awards — Sex, Way Down East

1 Award — The Devil’s Passkey, The Mark of Zorro, Over the Hill To The Poorhouse, The Round-Up, The Saphead, Treasure Island

Studios by Number of Nominations

15 Nominations — United Artists

10 Nominations — Paramount

9 Nominations — Universal

6 Nominations — J. Parker Read Productions

5 Nominations — First NationalMetro Pictures

4 Nominations — Fox Film, Goldwyn, Micheaux Films

Studios By Number of Awards Won

3 Awards — United Artists

2 Awards — J. Parker Read Productions, Paramount

1 Award — Fox Film, Metro Pictures, Universal

Trivia:

The number of best picture nominees is expanded to 10.

Oscar Micheaux is the first African-American to receive nominations for best director and best picture.

Best actor nominees John and Lionel Barrymore are brothers.

The Sixth Annual Academy Awards: 1919

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer

In 1919, as the Spanish Flu continued to infect and kill millions, the world tried to recover from World War I.  After spending six months at the Paris Peace Conference, President Woodrow Wilson returned to the U.S. and launched an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to bring the United States into the newly formed League of Nations.  On September 25th, while barnstorming across the nation in support of the League, a physically exhausted Wilson collapsed and never truly recovered.  On October 2nd, a stroke left him partially paralyzed and blind in one eye.

Even before Wilson’s physical collapse, the U.S. population had reason to feel uncertain about the future.  On January 6th, the wildly popular Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep.  Before his death, Roosevelt had been widely expected to run for President in 1920 and hopefully return the U.S. to the peace and prosperity that it knew before the Wilson years.

In April, anarchists mailed at least 39 bombs to prominent businessmen and political leaders.  On June 2nd, these same anarchists managed to detonate 8 large bombs nearly simultaneously in 8 large cities.  If the bombers were hoping that their actions would lead to a revolution similar to the one that had recently occurred in Russia, they were soon proven incorrect.  Instead, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer , who was himself hoping to win the Presidency in 1920, launched a series of so-called Palmer Raids, targeting anyone who might be considered a subversive.

The anarchist bombings also led to one of the greatest upsets in Academy history.  When the Academy Award nominations were announced in January of 1920, most observers felt that the race was between Universal‘s Blind Husbands, United Artist‘s Broken Blossoms, and the Paramount action-comedy The Roaring Road, all of which received 7 nominations.  Blind Husbands and Broken Blossoms were both prestige pictures and The Roaring Road was one of the most popular films of the year.  As well, Broken Blossoms was directed by D.W. Griffith and many felt that it was finally time for a Griffith film to win best picture.

Instead, when the Fatty Arbuckle-hosted awards ceremony was held on February 20th, 1920 at the Hollywood Hotel, the awards for picture, director, and screenplay went to a low-budget film called Bolshevism on Trial.  Based on a novel by Thomas Dixon (who also wrote The Clansman, the novel that inspired D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation), Bolshevism on Trial told the story of a misguided and wealthy activists who attempt to start a commune on an island off the Florida coast, just to have power seized by an evil Socialist agitator named Herman.  Bolshevism on Trial may not have been as polished as the other nominees but it both tapped into the national mood and confirmed what many Americans believed about Marxism.  Bolshevism On Trial was nominated for 4 award and won 3 of them, leaving many to wonder whether D.W. Griffith was forever destined to always be a contender but never a winner.

As for the other awards, the famous magician Harry Houdini won best actor, largely for playing himself in The Grim Game.  However, shortly after winning, Houdini abandoned his acting career, saying that he could make more money by concentrating on his stage show.  Evelyn Preer made history as the first African-American to be nominated for best actress.  (She was nominated for a “race picture”, Oscar Micheaux‘s The Homesteader.)  However, the award itself was won by Mary Miles Minter for her lead role in William Desmond Taylor‘s Anne of Green Gables.

The Sixth Annual Academy Awards

(Honoring films released between January 1st and December 31st, 1919.  Winners are starred and listed in bold)

Best Picture

Blind Husbands.  Produced by Carl Laemmle.  Universal.

*Bolshevism on Trial.  Produced by Lewis J. Selzinck.  Select Pictures.

Broken Blossoms.  Produced by D.W. Griffith.  United Artists.

The Lost Battalion.  Produced by Edward McManus.  W.H. Productions.

The Miracle Man.  Produced by George Loane Tucker.  Paramount.

The Roaring Road.  Produced by Jesse L. Lasky.  Paramount.

A scene from Bolshevism on Trial

A scene from Bolshevism on Trial

Best Director, Comedy

*James Cruze for The Roading Road.  Paramount.

Joseph Henabery for His Majesty, the American.  United Artists.

Marshall Neilan for Daddy-Long-Legs.  First National.

William Desmond Taylor for Anne of Green Gables. Paramount.

James Cruze

James Cruze

Best Director, Drama

D.W. Griffith for Broken Blossoms.  United Artists.

*Harley Knoles for Bolshevism on Trial.  Select Pictures.

George Loane Tucker for The Miracle Man.  Paramount.

Erich Von Stroheim for Blind Husbands.  Universal.

A scene from Bolshevism on Trial

A scene from Bolshevism on Trial

Best Actor

Richard Barthelmess for Broken Blossoms.  United Artists.

*Harry Houdini for The Grim Game.  Paramount.

Thomas Meighan for The Miracle Man.  Paramount.

Wallace Reid for The Roaring Road.  Paramount.

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini

Best Actress

Lillian Gish in Broken Blossoms.  United Artists.

Louise Glaum in Sahara. Pathe.

*Mary Miles Minter in Anne of Green Gables. Paramount.

Evelyn Preer in The Homesteader.  Micheaux Film.

Mary Miles Minter

Mary Miles Minter

Best Writing

Blind Husbands.  Erich Von Stroheim.  Universal.

*Bolshevism on Trial.  Harry Chandlee.  Select Pictures.

Broken Blossoms.  D.W. Griffith.  United Artists.

Sahara.  C. Gardner Sullivan.  Pathe.

Bolshevism_on_Trial

Best Cinematography

Blind Husbands.  Ben F. Reynolds.  Universal.

Bolshevism on Trial.  Philip Hatkin.  Select Pictures.

*Broken Blossoms.  G.W. Bitzer.  United Artists.

The Roaring Road.  Frank Urson.  Paramount.

G.W. Bitzer

G.W. Bitzer

Best Art Direction

The Avalanche.  George Fitzmaurice.  Paramount.

*Blind Husbands. Richard Day.  Universal.

Male and Female.  Wilfred Buckland.  Paramount.

The Roaring Road.  Wilfred Buckland.  Paramount.

Blind Husbands

Blind Husbands

Best Engineering Effects

Blind Husbands.  Erich Von Stroheim.  Universal.

The Grim Game.  Harry Houdini.  Paramount.

*The Lost Battalion.  Burton L. King.  W.H. Productions.

The Roaring Road.  Frank Urson.  Paramount.

The Lost Battalion

The Lost Battalion

Best Title Writing

Blind Husbands.  Lillian Ducey.  Universal.

Broken Blossoms.  D.W. Griffith.  United Artists.

Male and Female.  Jeanie MacPherson.  Paramount.

*The Roaring Road.  Marion Fairfax.  Paramount.

The Roaring Road

The Roaring Road

Films By Number of Nominations:

7 Nominations — Blind Husbands, Broken Blossoms, The Roaring Road

4 Nominations — Bolshevism on Trial

3 Nominations — The Miracle Man

2 Nominations — Anne of Green Gables, The Grim Game, The Lost Battalion, Male and Female, Sahara

1 Nominations — The Avalanche, Daddy-Long-Legs, His Majesty, the American, The Homesteader

Films By Number of Awards

3 Awards — Bolshevism on Trial

2 Awards — The Roaring Road

1 Award — Anne of Green Gables, Blind Husbands, Broken Blossoms, The Grim Game, The Lost Battalion

Studios By Number of Nominations

17 Nominations — Paramount

8 Nominations — United Artists

7 Nominations — Universal

4 Nominations — Select Films

2 Nominations — Pathe, W.H. Productions

1 Nomination — First National, Micheaux Film

Studios By Number of Awards

4 Awards — Paramount

3 Awards — Select

1 Award — United Artists, Universal, W.H. Productions

Trivia:

Evelyn Preer is the first African-American to be nominated for best actress, as well as being the first African-American to be nominated overall.

The Fifth Annual Academy Awards: 1918

A scene from Tarzan of The Apes

A scene from Tarzan of The Apes

1918 was a year of dominated by war and pestilence.  As the world seemed to be intent on destroying itself, both the Academy and American filmgoers embraced escapism.

Overseas, the Great War continued to drag on.  With no end to the fighting in sight, there were fears that the American public would turn against the war and their elected leaders would withdraw American soldiers from the fighting.  The British government, realizing the potential of film as a propaganda tool, contacted director D.W. Griffith and offered to help him make a film.  The end result was Hearts of the World, an epic war film that starred Lillian Gish as a French girl who struggles to survive and find true love as the Germans raid her village.

Though Gish would later say that Griffith was displeased with the pro-war tone of Hearts Of The World, the film was a great success at the box office.  Or, at least it was until the fighting finally ended on November 11, 1918.  Following the signing of the Armistice, war-weary film goers were ready to escape the grimness of conflict.

For Hollywood, 1918 was a year of tragedy.  On June 29th, cinematographer John van den Broek, who had just received considerable attention for his work on Paramount’s The Blue Bird, drowned while shooting the film Woman.  His body was never recovered.

The first cases of the Spanish flu were reported in January and, by the end of the year, it would spread to every corner of the civilized world.  Before the pandemic ended two years later, over 500 million people would be infected and 100 million — 5% of the world’s population — would die as a result.  However, because of wartime censorship, it’s debatable how aware most people were of this deadly killer.

The film industry would not hit by the deadly flu until the sudden death of the popular young actor, Harold Lockwood.  As a previous nominee for Best Actor, Lockwood was the first Academy Award nominee to pass away.  On October 22nd, just three days after Lockwood’s death, actor Julian L’Estrange would also pass away from the flu.  Though L’Estrange was never as big a star as Lockwood, he was married to popular actress Constance Collier and the young film industry was hit hard by his death.

With reality so grim, can we be surprised that filmgoers embraced comedy?  Among the most popular films of the year was Mickey, in which Mabel Normand played an orphan who, after being raised by coal miners, ended up finding love in New York City.  Also searching for love in New York was Mary Miles Minter in The Eyes of Julia Deep.

Mary Pickford returned to the screen in several films.  The melodrama Stella Maris featured Pickford in two roles, playing both a paralyzed rich girl and an orphaned servant girl.  For those who preferred Pickford in a light-hearted mood, there was Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley, a take on Pygmalion that featured Pickford as a poor girl learning how to be a refined lady.

However, the most popular film of the year was Tarzan of the Apes, the first film to be made about the legendary king of the jungle.  Starring Elmo Lincoln in the title role, Tarzan of the Apes was a huge box office success and provided eager audiences with an escape from reality.

When the Award nominations were announced, Tarzan of the Apes received 7 nominations.  Following with 5 nominations were Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley, The Eyes of Julia Deep, Hearts of The World, and Mickey.  Coming in with three nominations was Stella Maris.  For the first time, there were two posthumous nominations, John van den Broek for The Blue Bird and Julian L’Estrange, who was nominated for best actor for his performance in the comedy Daybreak.

The Awards Ceremony was held on February 20th, 1919 at the Hollywood Hotel.  For the third time in a row, the ceremony was hosted by comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.  A speech was also given by Academy President Thomas H. Ince, who earlier that year had been elected without opposition to a second term.

Tarzan of the Apes won awards for best picture, director, and cinematography.  Mabel Normand won best actress for Mickey.  According to most contemporary reports, the emotional highlight of the evening came when Constance Collier accepted Julian L’Estrange’s posthumous award for best actor.

Constance Collier, widow of Julian L'Estrange

Constance Collier, widow of Julian L’Estrange

The Fifth Annual Academy Awards

(Honoring films released in the U.S. between January 1st and December 31st, 1918.

Winners are starred and listen in bold.)

Best Picture

Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley.  Produced by Adolph Zukor.  Directed by Marshall Neilan.  Artcraft.

The Eyes of Julia Deep. Produced and Directed by Lloyd Ingraham.  American Film.

Hearts of the World.  Produced by and Directed by D.W. Griffith. Paramount.

Mickey.  Produced by Mack Sennett.  Directed by F. Richard Jones and James Young.  FBO.

Stella Maris.  Produced by Mary Pickford.  Produced by Marshall Neilan.  Artcraft.

*Tarzan of the Apes, produced by Williams Parsons.  Directed by Scott Sidney.  First National.

A scene from Tarzan of the Apes

A scene from Tarzan of the Apes

Best Director, Comedy

Allan Dwan for Bound in Morocco.  Artcraft.

Lloyd Ingraham for The Eyes of Julia Deep.  American Film.

F. Richard Jones and James Young for Mickey.  FBO.

*Marshall Neilan for Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley.  Artcraft.

Marshall Neilan

Marshall Neilan

Best Director, Drama

D.W. Griffith for Hearts of the World.  Paramount.

Marshall Neilan for Stella Maris.  Artcraft.

*Scott Sidney for Tarzan of the Apes.  First National.

Maurice Tourneur for The Blue Bird.  Paramount.

Scott Sidney

Scott Sidney

Best Actor

Edmund Burns in Under the Greenwood Tree.  Paramount.

Douglas Fairbanks in Arizona.  Artcraft.

*Julian L’Estrange in Daybreak.  Metro Pictures.

Elmo Lincoln in Tarzan of the Apes.  First National.

Julian L'Estrange

Julian L’Estrange

Best Actress

Lillian Gish in Hearts of the World.  Paramount.

Mary Miles Minter In The Eyes of Julia Deep.  American Film.

*Mabel Normand in Mickey.  FBO.

Mary Pickford in Stella Maris.  Artcraft.

Mabel Normand

Mabel Normand

Best Writing

Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley.  Frances Marion.  Artcraft.

*The Eyes of Julia Deep.  Kate L. McLaurin.  American Film.

Mickey.  J.G. Hawks.  FBO.

Tarzan of The Apes.  Fred Miller. First National.

The Eyes of Julia Deep

The Eyes of Julia Deep

Best Cinematography

The Blue Bird.  John van den Broek.  Paramount.

Hearts of the World.  G.W. Bitzer. Paramount.

*Tarzan of the Apes. Enrique Juan Vallejo.  First National.

Under the Yoke.  John W. Boyle.  Fox Film.

Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes

Best Art Direction

Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley.  Wilfred Buckland.  Artcraft.

*Hearts of the World.  Frank Wortman.  Paramount.

Huck and Tom.  Homer Scott.  Paramount.

Tarzan of the Apes. F.I. Wetherbee.  First National.

Hearts of the World

Hearts of the World

Best Engineering Effects

*The Ghost of Slumber Mountain.  Willis O’Brien.  World Film.

The Heart of Humanity.  Allen Holubar.  Universal.

Hearts of the World.  D.W. Griffith.  Paramount.

Tarzan of the Apes.  Scott Sidney.  First National.

The Ghost of Slumber Mountain

The Ghost of Slumber Mountain

Best Title Writing

The Blue Bird.  Charles Maigne.  Paramount.

The Eyes of Julia Deep. Elizabeth Mahoney.  American Film.

*Mickey.  J.G. Hawks.  FBO.

Tarzan of the Apes.  Lois Weber.  First National.

A scene from Mickey

A scene from Mickey

Films By Number of Nominations:

7 Nominations — Tarzan of the Apes

5 Nominations — Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley, The Eyes of Julia Deep, Hearts of the World, Mickey

3 Nominations — The Blue Bird, Stella Maris

1 Nomination — Arizona, Daybreak, Bound in Morocco, Ghost of Slumber Mountain, The Heart of Humanity, Huck and Tom, Under the Greenwood Tree, Under The Yoke

Films By Number of Awards Won

3 Awards — Tarzan of the Apes

2 Awards — Mickey

1 Award — Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley,  Daybreak, The Eyes of Julia Deep, Ghost of Slumber Mountain, Hearts of the World

Studios By Number of Nominations

11 Nominations — Paramount

10 Nominations — Artcraft

7 Nominations — First National

5 Nominations — American Film, FBO

1 Nomination — Fox Films, Metro Pictures, Universal, World Film

Studios By Number of Wins

3 Nominations — First National

2 Nominations — FBO

1 Nomination — Artcraft, American Film, Metro Pictures, Paramount, World Film

Trivia:

Tarzan of the Apes is the first adventure film to win best picture.

John van den Broek and Julian L’Estrange are the first two people to be posthumously nominated for an Award.

Julian L’Estrange is the first person to posthumously win an Award.

The Fourth Annual Academy Awards: 1917

The host of the 4th Annual Academy Awards, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle

The host of the 4th Annual Academy Awards, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

On March 4th, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson took the oath of office and began his second term of President.  Just a few months earlier, he had run for reelection on a platform of maintaining American neutrality in the war that was ravaging Europe.  His slogan was “He Kept Us Out Of War,” and it was enough to allow him to survive one of the closest elections in U.S. History.

One month later, the U.S. declared war on Germany and entered into what would come to be called World War I.

Whereas the previous year had been dominated by films, like the Award-winning Civilization, that promoted neutrality and world peace, 1917 saw the release of several films that were designed to support the American war effort.  The pacifism of Civilization was forgotten as the box office embraced both patriotism and escapism.

Audiences looking for patriotism flocked to The Little American.  Directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Mary Pickford, The Little American featured Pickford as Angela, an American woman who falls in love with two soldiers, one German and one French, during the opening days of World War I.  Also popular was Universal’s The Man Without a Country, in which a treasonous pacifist is convinced to support the war effort by reading and visualizing Edward Everett Hale’s famous short story.

Audiences looking for an escape from the grim reality of war flocked to see Fox’s Cleopatra, an extravagant recreation of the ancient Rome that starred Theda Bara as Cleopatra and Fritz Leiber, Sr. as Julius Caesar.  Also popular was Golden Rule Kate, a comedic western that starred Louise Glaum.  Finally, there was William Desmond Taylor’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, starring the popular Jack Pickford (younger brother of Mary) in the title role.

For the first time, there was speculation in some contemporary California newspapers over which films wold actually be nominated for an Academy Award.  In the days leading up to the announcement of the nominations, it was generally agreed that the probable nominees for best picture would be Cleopatra, Golden Rule Kate, The Little American, The Man Without A Country, Tom Sawyer, and Wild and Woolly, a Douglas Fairbanks comedy.

When the nominations were announced on January 20th, 1918, The Little American led with 7 nominations, followed by Cleopatra with 6,  Tom Sawyer with 5, and Golden Rule Kate and The Man Without A Country with 4 each.  With the exception of a nomination for director John Emerson, Wild and Woolly was almost totally snubbed.  Instead, the 6th best picture nomination went to One Law For Both, a little-seen melodrama from independent filmmaker Ivan Abramson that managed to tie Tom Sawyer with a total five nominations.

As a part of his effort to attract more industry professionals into the organization, Academy President Thomas H. Ince again reformed the voting process, doing away with the jury system.  While the nominations were still made by the individual branches, the 1917 awards were the first to be voted on by the entire membership of the Academy.

The ceremony was held, at the Hollywood Hotel, on the evening of February 20th, 1917.  The ceremony was again hosted by the popular comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and also featured a speech from U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson.

The awards were a family affair, with siblings Mary and Jack Pickford winning both of the acting awards.  (This was Mary Pickford’s third nomination and second victory.)  The Little American won best picture, with Cecil B. DeMille winning his second award for Best Director, Drama.  William Desmond Taylor won the award for Best Director, Comedy while Cleopatra settled for two technical awards.

The Fourth Annual Academy Awards

(Honoring films released in the U.S. between January 1st and December 31st, 1917.  Winners are starred and listed in bold)

Best Picture

Cleopatra.  Produced William Fox.  Directed by J. Gordon Edwards.  Fox Films.

Golden Rule Kate.  Produced by Thomas H. Ince.  Directed by Reginald Barker.  Triangle Distributing.

*The Little American.  Produced by Mary Pickford.  Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.  Artcraft.

The Man Without A Country.  Produced by Edwin Thanhouser.  Directed by Ernest C. Warde.  Universal.

One Law For Both.  Produced and Directed by Ivan Abramson.  Ivan Film.

Tom Sawyer.  Produced by Jesse L. Lasky.  Directed by William Desmond Taylor.  Paramount.

A scene from The Little American

A scene from The Little American

Best Director, Comedy

John Emerson for Wild and Woolly.  Artcraft.

Wray Physioc for The Gulf Between.  Technicolor Motion Picture Corp.

*William Desmond Taylor for Tom Sawyer.  Paramount.

Maurice Tourneur for The Poor Little Rich Girl.  Artcraft.

William Desmond Taylor

William Desmond Taylor

Best Director, Drama

Ivan Abramson for One Law For Both.  Ivan Film.

Reginald Barker for Golden Rule Kate.  Triangle Distributing.

*Cecil B. DeMille for The Little American.  Artcraft.

J. Gordon Edwards for Cleopatra.  Fox Films.

Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille

Best Actor

John Barrymore in Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman.  Hiller & Wilk.

Holmes Herbert in The Man Without A Country.  Universal.

Harold Lockwood in Paradise Garden.  Metro Pictures.

*Jack Pickford in Tom Sawyer.  Paramount.

Jack Pickford

Jack Pickford

Best Actress

Theda Bara in Cleopatra.  Fox Films.

Rita Jolivet in One Law For Both.  Ivan Film.

*Mary Pickford in The Little American.  Artcraft.

Kathlyn Williams in Big Timber.  Paramount.

Mary Pickford in The Little American

Mary Pickford in The Little American

Best Writing

*The Little American.  Jeanie MacPherson.  Artcraft.

Cleopatra.  Adrian Johnson.  Fox Films.

One Law For Both.  Ivan Abramson.  Ivan Film.

Tom Sawyer.  Julia Crawford Ivers.  Paramount.

Jeanie MacPherson

Jeanie MacPherson

Best Cinematography

The Bad Boy.  David Abel.  Triangle Distributing.

*Cleopatra.  George Schniederman.  Fox Films.

Golden Rule Kate.  Joseph August.  Triangle Distributing.

The Little American.  Alvin Wyckoff.  Artcraft.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Best Art Design

*Cleopatra.  George James Hopkins.  Fox Films.

The Little American.  Wilfred Buckland.  Artcraft.

The Poor Little Rich Girl.  Ben Carre.  Artcraft.

Tom Sawyer.  Homer Scott.  Paramount.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Best Engineering Effects

The Little American.  Joseph Levering.  Artcraft.

The Man Without A Country.  Ernest C. Warde.  Universal.

Straight Shooting. George Scott. Universal.

*The Gulf Between.  Carl Gregory.  Technicolor Motion Picture Corp.

A scene from The Gulf Between, an early color film

A scene from The Gulf Between, an early color film

Best Title Writing

Camille.  Adrian Johnson.  Fox Film Corporation.

Golden Rule Kate. Monte M. Katterjohn.  Triangle Distributing.

The Man Without A Country.  Lloyd Lonergan.  Universal.

*One Law For Both.  Ivan Abramson.  Ivan Film.

One Law For Both

One Law For Both

Films By Number of Nominations:

7 Nominations — The Little American

6 Nominations — Cleopatra

5 Nominations — One Law For Both, Tom Sawyer

4 Nominations — Golden Rule Kate, The Man Without A Country

2 Nominations — The Gulf Between, The Poor Little Rich Girl

1 Nominations — The Bad Boy, Big Timber, Camille, Raffles The Amateur Crasksmith, Paradise Garden, Straight Shooting, Wild and Woolly

Films By Number Of Awards

4 Awards — The Little American

2 Awards — Cleopatra, Tom Sawyer

1 Awards — The Gulf Between, One Law For Both

Studios By Number Of Nominations

10 Nominations — Artcraft

7 Nominations — Fox Film

6 Nominations — Paramount, Universal

5 Nominations — Ivan Film, Triangle Distributing

2 Nominations — Technicolor Motion Picture Corp.

1 Nominations — Hiller & Wilk, Metro Pictures

Studios By Number of Awards

4 Awards — Artcraft

2 Awards — Fox Film, Paramount

1 Award — Ivan Film, Technicolor Motion Picture Corp.

Trivia

For the first time, the entire Academy membership votes for the awards.

Best Actor winner Jack Pickord and Best Actress winner Mary Pickford are siblings.

Mary Pickford is the first woman to win the award for best picture.

Mary Pickford wins her second award for acting.

Cecil B. DeMille wins his second award for directing and his second award for best picture.

The Third Annual Academy Awards: 1916

Thomas H. Ince, the 2nd President of AMPAS

Thomas H. Ince, the 2nd President of AMPAS

In the long history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1916 was dominated by one man: Thomas H. Ince.

Today, Ince is a largely forgotten figure and his many accomplishments have been overshadowed by the mysterious and potentially sordid circumstances of his death in 1924.  However, in 1916, Ince was one of the most popular figures working in the film industry.  He was the first producer to build his own studio in California and, with D.W. Griffith and Academy President Mack Sennett, founded the Triangle Motion Picture Company.  When, following the 2nd Academy Awards ceremony, Sennett announced the he would not be running for a second term as president of the AMPAS, Ince was the obvious choice to replace him.

As President, Ince immediately launched a recruiting drive to bring more industry professionals into the organization and set about restructuring  the AMPAS, dividing membership into five separate branches — Producers, Actors, Directors, Writers, and Technicians.

Thomas Ince directing

Thomas Ince directing

Ince also changed the method by which the Academy Awards were determined.  Abandoning the previous method of using a “jury of distinguished citizens,” each branch would now make their own nominations.  After the nominations had been determined, each branch would elect one representative to sit on the committee that would select the actual winners.

Along with being the President of the Academy, Ince was also the producer and co-director of one of the leading award contenders.  Civilization told the story of Count Ferdinand (Howard C. Hickman), a nobleman in a fictional European kingdom.  Assigned to command a ship in battle, Ferdinand refuses to fire a torpedo at a civilian ocean liner and loses his life as a result.  After descending to purgatory, Ferdinand is recruited by Jesus himself and sent back among the living to preach world peace  Released at a time when Europe was at war and President Woodrow Wilson was running for reelection on a platform of international neutrality, Civilization was a critical and box office success.  When Wilson was narrowly reelected over Charles Hughes, the Democratic National Committee publicly praised the role played by Civilization.

Woodrow Wilson and Charles Evan Hughes

Woodrow Wilson and Charles Evans Hughes

Civilization‘s main competition came from D.W. Griffith’s epic Intolerance.  Ironically enough, both Intolerance and Civilization were distributed by Triangle Film and both featured Jesus as a supporting character.  However, in Intolerance, the story of Jesus was just one of four separate storylines, all of which were meant to portray the role of intolerance throughout human history.  (The film itself was largely designed as a response to what Griffith viewed as being unfair criticism of his previous epic, Birth of a Nation.)  At that point in cinematic history, Intolerance was the most extravagant and expensive film ever made.  Unfortunately, it was also a failure at the box office.

Intolerance

Intolerance

Other contenders included Universal‘s abortion-themed melodrama, Where Are My Children?, Paramount‘s adaptation of Oliver Twist, Fox Film‘s A Daughter of the Gods (which received a lot of attention for star Annette Kellerman‘s nude scene), and a British class drama called East is East.

When the nominations were announced, Intolerance led with 7 nominations, followed by Civilization with 5.  Overall, the nominations were dominated by films released by Triangle Film.  Film distributed by Triangle received a total of 17 nominations.  2nd place Universal received seven.

Lillian Gish in Intolerance

Lillian Gish in Intolerance

The Awards Committee consisted of the following representatives:

  1. Former Academy President Mack Sennett, serving in place of Thomas Ince, who disqualified himself after being nominated for best producing and directing Civilization.
  2. Lewis J. Selznick, representing the Producer’s Branch
  3. Oscar C. Apfel, representing the Director’s Branch
  4. Charles Ogle, representing the Actor’s Branch
  5. Roy L. McCardell, representing the Writer’s Branch
  6. George Schniederman, representing the Technician’s Branch

As an indication that the American film industry was abandoning New York City and heading out west, the ceremony was held, for the first time, in California.  The Awards Ceremony was held on February 20th, 1917, at the Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles.  The ceremony was hosted by popular comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.

Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, host of the Third Annual Academy Awards

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, host of the Third Annual Academy Awards

For the first time, the winners were not announced ahead of time.  All of the nominees were present at the ceremony but there are no records as to whether or not they were surprised by either the success of Civilization or the total failure of Intolerance.  Out of 7 nominations, Intolerance won zero awards.  Civilization picked up three awards, including best picture.  Perhaps the most popular winner was cowboy star William S. Hart, who won best actor for Hell’s Hinges and defeated the presumed favorite, Where Are My Children‘s Tyrone Power.

The Third Annual Academy Awards

(Honoring film released in the U.S. between January 1st and December 31st of 1916.  Winners are starred and listed in bold.)

Best Picture

*Civilization.  Produced by Thomas H. Ince.  Directed by Reginald Barker, Thomas H. Ince, and Roland West.  Triangle Distributing.

A Daughter of the Gods.  Produced by William Fox.  Directed by Herbert Brenon.  Fox Film Corporation.

East is East.  Produced by Florence Turner.  Directed by Henry Edwards.  Mutual Film.

Intolerance.  Produced and Directed by D.W. Griffith.  Triangle Distributing.

Oliver Twist.  Produced by Jesse L. Lasky.  Directed by James Young.  Paramount.

Where Are My Children?  Produced and Directed by Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley.  Universal.

A scene from Civilization

A scene from Civilization

Best Director, Comedy

Charles Chaplin for One A.M.  Mutual Film.

J. Searle Dawley for Snow White. Paramount.

Allan Dwan for The Habit of Happiness.  Triangle Distributing.

*John Emerson for The Americano. Triangle Distributing.

John Emerson

John Emerson

Best Director, Drama

Reginald Barker, Thomas H. Ince, and Roland West for Civilization.  Triangle Distributing.

Henry Edwards for East Is East.  Mutual Film.

D.W. Griffith for Intolerance.  Triangle Distributing.

*James Young for Oliver Twist.  Paramount.

James_Young_(director)

Best Actor

William Gillette in Sherlock Holmes.  Essanay Studios.

*William S. Hart in Hell’s Hinges.  Triangle Distributing.

Walter McGrail in Lights of New York. V-L-S-E.

Tyrone Power in Where Are My Children?  Universal.

William S. Hart in Hell's Hinges

William S. Hart in Hell’s Hinges

Best Actress

Marie Doro in Oliver Twist.  Paramount.

*Annette Kellerman in A Daughter of the Gods.  Fox Film Corporation.

Mary Pickford in Hulda From Holland.  Paramount.

Florence Turner in East is East.  Mutual Film.

Annette Kellerman

Annette Kellerman

Best Writing

La Boheme.  Frances Marion.  World Film.

*Civilization. C. Gardner Sullivan.  Triangle Distributing.

Intolerance.  D.W. Griffith.  Triangle Distributing.

Where Are My Children?  Lucy Payton and Franklin Hall.  Universal.

A scene from Civilization

A scene from Civilization

Best Cinematography

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Eugene Gaudio.  Universal.

The Americano.  Victor Fleming.  Triangle Distributing.

Intolerance.  G.W. Bitzer.  Triangle Distributing.

*Joan the Woman.  Alvin Wyckoff.  Paramount.

Joan the Woman

Joan the Woman

Best Art Direction

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Frank Ormston. Universal.

*Civilization.  Joseph H. August.  Triangle Distributing.

A Daughter of the Gods.  John D. Braddon.  Fox Film Corporation.

Intolerance. Walter L. Hall. Triangle Distributing.

A scene from Civilization

A scene from Civilization

Best Engineering Effects

*20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.  Stuart Paton.  Universal.

Intolerance.  D.W. Griffith.  Triangle Distributing.

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Best Title Writing

The Americano.  Anita Loos.  Triangle Distributing.

Civilization. C. Gardner Sullivan.  Triangle Distributing.

Intolerance.  Anita Loos.  Triangle Distributing.

*Where Are My Children?  Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley.  Universal.

A scene from Where Are My Children?

A scene from Where Are My Children?

Films By Number of Nominations:

Intolerance — 7 Nominations

Civilization — 5 Nominations

Where Are My Children? — 4 Nominations

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — 3 Nominations

The Americano — 3 Nominations

A Daughter of the Gods — 3 Nominations

East is East — 3 Nominations

Oliver Twist — 3 Nominations

La Boheme — 1 Nomination

The Habit of Happiness — 1 Nomination

Hell’s Hinges — 1 Nomination

Hulda of Holland — 1 Nomination

Joan the Woman — 1 Nomination

Lights of New York — 1 Nomination

One A.M. — 1 Nomination

Sherlock Holmes — 1 Nomination

Snow White — 1 Nomination

Films By Number of Awards Won:

Civilization — 3 Academy Awards

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — 1 Academy Award

The Americano — 1 Academy Award

Daughter of the Gods — 1 Academy Award

Hell’s Hinges — 1 Academy Award

Joan The Woman — 1 Academy Award

Oliver Twist — 1 Academy Award

Where Are My Children? — 1 Academy Awards

Studios By Number Of Nominations:

Triangle Distributing — 17 Nominations

Universal — 7 Nominations

Paramount — 6 Nominations

Mutual Films — 4 Nominations

Fox Film Corporation — 3 Nominations

Essanay Studios — 1 nomination

V-L-S-E –1 Nominations

World Film — 1 Nominations

Studios By Number of Academy Awards Won:

Triangle Distributing — 5 Academy Awards

Paramount — 2 Academy Awards

Universal — 2 Academy Awards

Fox Film Corporation — 1 Academy Award

Trivia:

Civilization is the first war film to win best picture.

Mary Pickford is the first person to receive a consecutive acting nomination and a consecutive nomination overall.

For the first time, nominees are announced before the ceremony.

For the first time, the winners are not announced ahead of time.

For the first time, the Awards Ceremony is held in California.

The First Annual Academy Awards: 1914

Mack Sennett, the 1st President of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Mack Sennett, the 1st President of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Ironically, considering its current prominence in American culture, the origins of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are shrouded in mystery.

Reportedly, in February of 1914, a meeting was held in New York City that led to the founding of the Academy.  While all exact records appear to be lost, it is generally agreed that the meeting was attended by Mack Sennett, Thomas H. Ince, William Randolph Hearst, Charles O. Baumann, John R. Freuler, Samuel S. Hutchinson, Jesse Lasky, William Fox, Adolph Zukor, D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, William Kennedy Dickson, Mary Pickford, J. Stuart Blackton, Albert E. Smith, Carl Laemmle, and L. Frank Baum.  By the end of the meeting, not only had the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences been formally established but producer/director Mack Sennett of Keystone Pictures had been named the organization’s first president.

While the Academy has become best known for hosting the annual Academy Awards, most film historian agree that the awards were originally something of an afterthought.  Instead, the Academy was founded by a handful of producers and other film professionals who were hoping that the organization would help to improve the young film industry’s image and potentially be used as a tool to combat Thomas Edison‘s attempts to monopolize and control all film production in the United States.  The Academy was much more concerned with labor practices and distribution deals than it was with awards.

In another attempt to try to improve the image of the film industry, the first Academy Awards were selected by a jury of prominent and respected men, none of whom were involved with the movies.  The 6-member jury consisted of:

  1. Howard Elliott, President of New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad
  2. Frank Diehl Fackenthal, educator
  3. George B. McClellan, Jr., former Mayor of New York City
  4. George Cooper Pardee, former Governor of California
  5. Francis Ouimet, golfer
  6. Booth Tarkington, writer

There is some debate as to how involved the members of the jury were in actually selecting the awards, with some historians claiming that the jury did watch every film released in 1914 while others have claimed that the selections were largely made by William Randolph Hearst, Jesse Lasky, and Mack Sennett.

(Among those who felt that Hearst, Lasky, and Sennett exercised undue influence was L. Frank Baum, who was so angry that none of his Oz films were awarded anything that he resigned from the Academy.)

The very first awards ceremony was held on the night of January 15th, 1915, in the Empire Room of the Waldorf Hotel in New York City.  After dinner, guests listened to a speech from Mack Sennett, after which Sennett proceeded to hand out certificates of merits to the honorees, all of whom had been informed of their victory ahead of time.  Reportedly, there were no acceptance speeches.  After the awards had been handed out, Democratic New York State Senator Stanford Von Willken Moore IV delivered a speech on the importance of eugenics, world peace, segregation, and prohibition.

The 1914 Academy Awards

(All films released in the U.S. during 1914 were considered to be eligible.  Only winners were announced)

Best Picture

The Squaw Man, produced by Jesse L. Lasky, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar Apfel.  Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company.

Dustin Farnum and Lillian St. Cyr in The Squaw Man

Dustin Farnum and Lillian St. Cyr in The Squaw Man

Best Director

Edward S. Curtis for In The Land of the Head Hunters.  World Film.

A scene from In The Land of the Headhunters

A scene from In The Land of the Head Hunters

Best Actor

Henry B. Walthall in The Avenging Conscience.  Mutual Film.

Henry B. Walthall in The Avenging Conscience

Henry B. Walthall in The Avenging Conscience

Best Actress

Blanche Sweet in Judith of Bethulia.  Biograph Company.

Blanche Sweet in Judith of Bethulia

Blanche Sweet in Judith of Bethulia

Best Screenplay

Mr . Barnes of New York.  Eugene Mullin. Vitagraph Studios.

A scene from Mr. Barnes of New York

A scene from Mr. Barnes of New York

Trivia:

The Squaw Man is the first western to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Both the winner for best actor and for best actress appeared in films directed by D.W. Griffith.

For the first of two times, no nominees were announced before the ceremony.

For the first of two times, no film won more than a single Oscar.