WON: "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding
SHOULD'VE WON: "Remember Me," Mr. Dodd Takes the Air
In listening to the 1937 Oscar nominees for Best Original Song, the immediate takeaway is "wow, this evidently was not an especially noteworthy year in movie music." Then, however, you realize '37 was the release year of one of the all-time great Disney classics, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, meaning the Academy inexplicably opted to snub the likes of "Someday My Prince Will Come," "Whistle While You Work" and "Heigh-Ho," among others. Oh well. This, of course, will hardly be the first time I complain about the lack of love for songs that so obviously should have been recognized.
There isn't really a dud among the Academy's five selections this year. There is not, however, anything to much write home about either. This year is notable for being the one occasion on which the great George Gershwin (posthumously) received an Oscar nomination, but I wouldn't consider "They Can't Take That Away from Me" among his best work, despite Fred Astaire's fine, charming delivery. "That Old Feeling" is also a nice standard, covered by the likes of Doris Day and Judy Garland to Rod Stewart and Frank Sinatra, but it too is a bit tough to get enthusiastic about in the way you fall so head-over-heels for the likes of "Cheek to Cheek" and "The Way You Look Tonight." "Whispers in the Dark" and the winner, the Bing Crosby-performed "Sweet Leilani," are also nice and not much more. (Who knows, maybe everyone in the Academy wanted to get the heck out of Hollywood and move to Hawaii.)
Ultimately, my favorite here isn't the Gershwin track or the Oscar winner, but rather "Remember Me," from the extremely obscure Mr. Deeds-inspired Mr. Dodd Takes the Air. I can't speak to the quality of the picture - I've never seen it, though the few notices I've dug up online don't hold a lot of promise - but the strong vocal performance of Kenny Baker, coupled with its sweet, nostalgic lyrics (lots of talk about falling in love in cottages on hills), leave more of an impression on me than its competition.
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far):
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)