Saturday, May 15, 2021

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1972: Original Song

Having just accepted the Oscar on behalf of Charles Chaplin, Candice Bergen returned to the stage, this time with Billy Dee Williams (of Lady Sings the Blues). The category was Best Cinematography, a loss for 1776, but another feather in the cap for Cabaret - this now made it six wins from six categories. Somehow, despite two new songs written for the film, both of them much better remembered than many of the nominees, Cabaret missed out on any nods for the next category: Best Original Song, presented by the remarkable Sonny and Cher:

I really can't believe Cabaret had nothing here, nor indeed did qualifying titles like Black Girl, Georgia, Georgia, Savage MessiahShaft's Big ScoreSounder, Super FlyTrouble Man. Instead...well, take a look for yourself: 

"Ben" from Ben
music by Walter Scharf
lyrics by Don Black
Scharf's first and only nomination for Song; Black's third of five nominations, with one past win; Golden Globe winner for Best Original Song

The sequel to Willard is, frankly, leaps and bounds better than the original, at least when it's focusing on the sick little boy who befriends the usually menacing rat Ben, resulting in an unusual and heartbreaking love story. The song is a tribute to that friendship, performed on the film's soundtrack and at the Oscars by 14-year-old Michael Jackson. The song has since been covered countless times, most memorably by Crispin Glover for the Willard remake. It is a very sweet song, simply written - in the film, it's composed by the boy - marked not just by innocence, but loneliness, too. Sad little song!

"Marmalade, Molasses & Honey" from The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
music by Maurice Jarre
lyrics by Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman
Jarre's first and only nomination for Song; five of sixteen nominations in this category for the Bergmans, including one past win; with Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Song

Jaunty tune played during an unusual interlude in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. The film sees Paul Newman in the ol' west, a gunslinger who makes himself into a judge and transforms a one-shack desert stop into a booming community. Quirky comedy presented as though it were actual biography. "Marmalade, Molasses & Honey" is great fun, all the more so because it's part of a scene where Newman and his bride picnic with their pet bear - bizarre, hilarious, the children's chorus and effusive Andy Williams-ness adding to the absurdity.

"Come Follow, Follow Me" from The Little Ark
music by Fred Karlin
lyrics by Marsha Karlin
third and final nomination in this category for Fred, with one past win; first and only nomination for Marsha

Dutch town is flooded, and two orphans find themselves with a bunch of animals on a boat captained by Theodore Bikel. My God, it'd have to the single released by the Springfield Revival that the voters were thinking of because the version that plays in the film, performed by some off-key children, should be heard by neither man nor beast.

"The Song from The Poseidon Adventure (The Morning After)" from The Poseidon Adventure
music and lyrics by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
first of three nominations in this category for Kasha/Hirschhorn

We've all accepted that this is called "The Morning After," but if you watch the movie, it is credited as "The Song from The Poseidon Adventure." Creative! Anyway, it's a bop. In the film, it's sung a couple times - first in rehearsal, then at the New Year's Eve party - by the ship's entertainment, a band on their way to Europe who's more or less singing for their supper. They have to believe in a morning after, especially once disaster strikes.

"Strange Are the Ways of Love" from The Stepmother
music by Sammy Fain
lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
eighth of ten nominations for Fain, a past two-time winner; fifteenth of sixteen nominations for Webster, a past three-time winner

Not sleazy enough to entertain, not crafty to transcend its genre, The Stepmother is a rude movie about a jealous husband who murders his friend for coming on to his wife...but it's his newly-arrived young son he's really got to worry about! The song "Strange Are the Ways of Love" plays during the opening and closing credits, first upbeat, then more mournful. It's never good. Strange are the ways of Original Song nominations - a different song with the exact same title from The Young Land was nominated back in 1959.


An easy win - my vote, and the Oscar, goes to:


Sunday, the nominees for Adapted Screenplay: Cabaret, The EmigrantsThe Godfather, Pete 'n' Tillie, and Sounder.

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