Failure to launch 1000 ships

I expected to have trouble finding some of the old movies but I didn’t expect it for the very first film! 1929 was the year of the first Academy Awards ceremony. There were three individuals nominated for “Engineering Effects”. Ralph Hammeras for “The Private Life of Helen of Troy”, Nugent Slaughter for “The Jazz Singer”, & Roy Pomeroy for “Wings”. Since “Wings” was the winner and “The Jazz Singer” is well-known as the first feature-length talkie, I wanted to start with “The Private Life of Helen of Troy” – a film I’d never heard of before starting research for this blog. After spending some time poking around in a few silent film archives (most notably here, here, & here if you are interested) I learned that the film is not lost, but is not easily available to a regular guy. My viewing technology pretty much consists of an internet connection, a roof-top TV antenna, a VCR, and a blue-ray player. If I start talking about buying old film projection equipment I hope someone loves me enough to smack me in the head.

My intent in watching these old dusty things is to gain historical perspective. I want to be able to travel forward in time from the silent film era to the present as a guy with eyes from both the future and the past.

So, no “Private Life of Helen of Troy” for now. But I can still get my hysterical perspective. I’ll start with “A Trip to the Moon”, a 1902 film based on the Jules Verne novel and then watch “The Lost World” from 1925. ”The Lost World” was released two years before “Helen” but is also a silent film based on a novel.  Sort of.  Anyway, these films should give me some perspective to watch “The Jazz Singer” followed by “Wings”.  After that, I’ll be in free-form mode for a while because there was no academy award for special effects from 1930 – 1937.



  1. Wings – 1927 | A spaceship, a dinosaur, or a guy with a sword - June 11, 2014

    […] at the first academy awards ceremony in 1929 beating out “The Jazz Singer” and “The Private Life of Helen of Troy“.  It also won the academy award for best picture at the same […]

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