The Academy to screen Technicolor restoration of first-ever Best Picture winner ‘Wings’

A few weeks ago, in a piece concerning Technicolor’s restoration of a colorized print of Georges Méliès’s “A Trip to the Moon” featured in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” I mentioned that one of the projects the company was working on was a restoration of the first-ever Best Picture winner, William A. Wellman’s “Wings.”

The Academy announced this week that the film will screen as part of a celebration of Paramount Pictures’ 100th anniversary (though pity the release says nothing about Technicolor). The screening will happen on Wednesday, January 18 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills and will feature live musical accompaniment from organist Clark Wilson.

The live music aspect is nice and all, but the restoration also came with a full-on orchestral re-recording of the score for the film. I’m told that will be featured on the upcoming home video release.

“Wings” won the Best Picture Oscar for “Outstanding Production” at the inaugural Academy Awards in 1929. However, that first ceremony was the only one to feature two different “Best Picture” categories, as F.W. Murnau’s brilliant “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” won for “Unique and Artistic Production.” “Wings” also won for Best Engineering Effects, a progenitor of the Best Visual Effects category.

“Sunrise” and “7th Heaven,” however, were the big winners of the evening, taking home three trophies each. Janet Gaynor won Best Actress in a circumstance that mirrors many critics’ award decisions today, her work in three films — “7th Heaven,” “Street Angel” and “Sunrise” — all being cited. “7th Heaven” also won the Best Director prize for Frank Borzage, though for dramatic pictures (as the category was then split between comedic and dramatic endeavors), and Best Adapted Screenplay. “Sunrise” won Best Cinematography.

The Academy event will be presented in conjunction with “Paramount’s Movie Milestones: A Centennial Celebration,” an exhibition of photographs, posters, design sketches and personal correspondence highlighting some of Paramount’s most celebrated films and filmmakers over the past 100 years, according to the press release. The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday, January 6 through Sunday, February 5 in the Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery.

Tickets for the screening are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students. They are available for purchase now at

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

Sign up for Instant Alerts from In Contention!