Frank Capra Bette Davis

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Click on one of these decades to read about the major stars and movies of the time:

Intro | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

Films are listed as winners in the year the ceremony was held

The Oscars began at the same time that movies began to talk -although the name Oscar was not officially adopted by the Academy until 1939.

The advent of sound saw American movie studios start to dominate the industry, heralding the Golden Age of Hollywood. By the mid-1930s, Technicolour ensured that most full-length features were in colour as well.

The first Academy Awards ceremony took place during a banquet held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929.

Wings, the tale of two US airmen who fall in love with the same girl, won best picture, Emil Jannings won best actor for The Way of All Flesh while Janet Gaynor took best actress for Seventh Heaven.

The 1930s saw the emergence of the first global stars - Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn were all winners for the first time and would all go on again to win statuettes in the decades to come.

The first stellar directors also began to emerge - Frank Capra won three times (including for It Happened One Night) in the decade and John Ford won the first of his four best director awards, for The Informer.

Two classic movies were beaten to best film in the 1930s. In 1932 A Farewell to Arms, starring Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes, lost out to Cavalcade while the The Front Page, starring Pat O'Brien, lost out to Western Cimarron in 1930/1.

In 1935 Frank Capra's It Happened One Night became the first film to win the big five awards - best director, picture, actor, actress, and screenplay. The story of a newspaper reporter who falls in love with an heiress running away from her family, gave Clark Gable his first acting award.

In the same year one of the great cinema pioneers DW Griffith, known as "the man who invented Hollywood", received a Special Academy Award.

Griffith had pioneered many of the story-telling techniques of modern cinema and directed one of the first cinema classics, Birth of a Nation, in 1915.


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