Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Oscar 1940: Best Original Song

Nine nominees for Best Original Song? From 1940-1945, the idea of five nominees per category was anathema to the Academy. Best Picture sometimes had twelve contenders, Original Score had seventeen nominees in 1940 alone; only Directing, Acting, and Writing categories had no more than five consistently. Still, nine is a weird number, particularly when the lineup doesn't even include hits by Cole Porter and only one song from Pinocchio. Perhaps that was better for Disney's odds: "When You Wish Upon a Star" triumphed, becoming the first of eleven Disney films to win in this category. The other eight nominees represent a time when a musical was as common as an action blockbuster is today. The stars of the screen are the sa

Let's have a listening party, ranking the songs from my personal #9 to my personal #1:

9. "It's a Blue World" from Music in My Heart
music and lyrics by Chet Forrest and Bob Wright
second of three nominations for Forrest and Wright

8. "Love of My Life" from Second Chorus
music by Artie Shaw
lyrics by Johnny Mercer
only nomination in this category for Shaw, second of eighteen nominations in this category for Mercer

7. "Only Forever" from Rhythm on the River
music by James Monaco
lyrics by John Burke
first of four nominations for Monaco, second of five nominations for Burke

6. "Who Am I?" from Hit Parade of 1941
music by Jule Styne
lyrics by Walter Bullock
first of nine nominations for Styne, second and final nomination for Bullock

Having nine nominees is crazier when there is such an obvious bottom four. Now on to my top five:

5. "I'd Know You Anywhere" from You'll Find Out
music by Jimmy McHugh
lyrics by Johnny Mercer
third of four nominations for McHugh, third of eighteen nominations in this category for Mercer

4. "Our Love Affair" from Strike Up the Band
music and lyrics by Roger Edens and Arthur Freed
first of two nominations in this category for Edens, only nomination in this category for Freed

The Academy's official website lists Edens and Freed as the nominees in this category. IMDb and Inside Oscar list Edens and George Stoll, the film's credited music director. The opening credits of the film say "lyrics and music by Roger Edens / Musical Direction by George Stoll / ADDITIONAL SONGS / ..."Our Love Affair"...Arthur Freed and Roger Edens." 

I've decided to go with the sources that would probably know best.

3. "Down Argentine Way" from Down Argentine Way
music by Harry Warren
lyrics by Mack Gordon

2. "Waltzing in the Clouds" from Spring Parade
music by Robert Stolz
lyrics by Gus Kahn
only nomination in this category for Stolz, second and final nomination for Kahn

Which means I must agree with the Academy voters as to the #1 Original Song of the Year (from their nominees):

1. "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio
music by Leigh Harline
lyrics by Ned Washington
only nomination in this category for Harline, first of eleven nominations in this category for Washington

Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Supporting Actor: Albert Bassermann (Foreign Correspondent), Walter Brennan (The Westerner), William Gargan (They Knew What They Wanted), Jack Oakie (The Great Dictator), and James Stephenson (The Letter).

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