The first movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture was Wings, a 1927 war film that would probably seem fairly tame when compared with what cinemas and TV offer today. But while the battle scenes aren't bloody or even loud -- it was a silent movie shot in black and white -- Wings did offer its share of surprises, including a partially-nude Clara Bow and the first time two men shared a kiss on screen.
Considering how much attention 2005's Brokeback Mountain earned by focusing on the romantic relationship between two cowboys and all of the talk stirred by the Roseanne Barr-Mariel Hemingway kiss in a 1994 episode of Roseanne, it's difficult to believe the Wings smooch would fly. But it did. Part of the reason was that no code was yet in place to restrict such a scene -- censorship guidelines weren't in place until the mid-1930s. But it might also have been allowed because it worked. According to author and actor Kevin Sessums, the love between the two combat pilots who share the kiss felt more real than either of their affections for the female love interest played by Bow.
War, words and Wings:
- The U.S. War Department saw "Wings" as a recruiting tool and contributed $16 million USD to its production.
- Many men who worked on Wings had served as wartime pilots, including writer John Monk Saunders and lead actor Richard Arlen.
- Wings was the first of three films to win Best Picture without earning a Best Director nomination, to date; the others are Grand Hotel and Driving Miss Daisy.