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The 13th Academy Awards honored American film achievements in 1940. This was the first year that sealed envelopes were used to keep secret the names of the winners which led to the famous phrase: "May I have the Envelope, please." The accounting firm of Price Waterhouse was hired to count the ballots, after the fiasco of leaked voting results in 1939 by the Los Angeles Times.
Independent producer David O. Selznick, who had produced the previous year's big winner Gone with the Wind (1939), also produced the Best Picture winner in 1940, Rebecca - and campaigned heavily for its win. Selznick was the first to produce two consecutive winners of the Best Picture Oscar. Although Rebecca had eleven nominations, it only won for Best Picture and Best Cinematography (Black and White), marking the last time a film would win Best Picture but not win for either directing, acting, or writing.
The film's studio - United Artists - was the last of the original film studios (the others were MGM, Columbia, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal, and Paramount) to win the Best Picture Oscar. Rebecca was the first American-made film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and the only film from him to win Best Picture. Hitchcock actually had two films in the running, for in addition to Rebecca his Foreign Correspondent was also in the running for Best Picture.
Pinocchio was the first animated film to take home competitive Oscars, for both Best Score and Best Song, starting a long tradition of animated films winning in these categories.
The Thief of Bagdad received the most Oscars of the evening, three, making it the first film to win the most awards without being nominated for Best Picture.
For the first time, names of all winners remained secret until the moment they received their awards.
Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a six minute direct radio address to the attendees from the White House. It is the first time an American president participated in the event.
Multiple nominations and awards
These films had multiple nominations:
7 nominations:The Grapes of Wrath, The Letter
6 nominations:Foreign Correspondent, The Long Voyage Home, Our Town, The Philadelphia Story
5 nominations:The Great Dictator, Kitty Foyle, North West Mounted Police
4 nominations:Arise, My Love, The Sea Hawk, Spring Parade, The Thief of Bagdad
3 nominations:All This, and Heaven Too, Down Argentine Way, My Favorite Wife, Strike Up the Band, The Westerner
2 nominations:Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Arizona, Bitter Sweet, The Blue Bird, Boom Town, The Boys From Syracuse, The Dark Command, Hit Parade of 1941, The Howards of Virginia, One Million B.C., Pinocchio, Second Chorus, Waterloo Bridge
The following films received multiple awards.
3 wins:The Thief of Bagdad
2 wins:The Grapes of Wrath, The Philadelphia Story, Pinocchio, Rebecca