Thursday, April 23, 2020

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Day Ten: Original Song, 1956

Sometimes I think Best Original Song nominations (and wins) should also go to the performer. We can pretend that it's the song, not the singer, and certainly various versions of "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" attest to the individual strength of those tunes. But Celine Dion is the secret sauce that makes "My Heart Will Go On" immortal. Irene Cara is key to both "Fame" and "Flashdance...What a Feeling." Without the combination of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, "Shallow" is, well....

Besides, the singer is part of the success of the song. I've heard many versions of "True Love," and I'm telling you, it doesn't hit the same without Bing Crosby. Pat Boone sells "Friendly Persuasion." And guys, Doris Day has two songs here - you think either of them gets in without her vocals? Well, one of them probably does, but fucking "Julie"??

Judge for yourselves. The songs:

Friendly Persuasion - "Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love)"
music by Dimitri Tiomkin
lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
third of eight song nominations for Tiomkin (a past winner), fourth of 16 nominations for webster (a past two-time winner)

Plays over the opening credits, closing shots, and repeated in between, snippets at a time, serving the film well. It's a lovely tune.

High Society - "True Love"
music and lyrics by Cole Porter
fourth and final nomination

A classic song, a lovely one, just heavenly out of the mouth of Bing Crosby. It's the song that builds the relationship between Bing and Grace Kelly, chilling on their sailboat of the same name. A good one.

Julie - "Julie"
music by Leith Stevens
lyrics by Tom Adair
first and only nomination in this category for either

Plays over the opening credits, a poor match for the "suspense" happening on screen. Boo and hiss.

The Man Who Knew Too Much - "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)"
music by Jay Livingston
lyrics by Ray Evans
past two-time winners, fourth of seven nominations

I agree with Doris Day that it's a somewhat trite little children's tune...and yet! So catchy! And with a surprising importance to the plot, played as both lullaby and secret code! Not a bad win.

Written on the Wind - "Written on the Wind"
music by Victor Young
lyrics by Sammy Cahn
third and final nomination in this category for Young, 13th of 26 nominations for past winner Cahn

In context, clumsy, coming in over the in media res opening scene/credits, its title sung well before it comes up on screen. Feels like a last-minute addition - I know many original songs are, but this really feels like it. On its own, though, not an unpleasant tune.


I vote with the Academy on this one:


Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Actor: Yul Brynner (The King and I), James Dean (Giant), Kirk Douglas (Lust for Life), Rock Hudson (Giant) and Laurence Olivier (Richard III).

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