1938 - Best Original Song
The nominees were...
"Now It Can Be Told," Alexander's Ragtime Band
"Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938
"Change Partners," Carefree
"The Cowboy and the Lady," The Cowboy and the Lady
"Jeepers Creepers," Going Places
"A Mist over the Moon," The Lady Objects
"Always and Always," Mannequin
"Merrily We Live," Merrily We Live
"My Own," That Certain Age
"Dust," Under Western Stars
WON AND SHOULD'VE WON: "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938
'38 marks the first of seven occasions in Oscar history when 10 or more tunes were nominated in Best Original Song. (Why, exactly, they opted to nominate just four songs the next year, in '39, only to return to 10 in '40, seems a mystery.) Somehow, however, in spite of the plethora of work recognized this year, there isn't a whole lot to write home about among the Academy's selections.
Two of the nominated songs - the dreary, Roy Rogers-performed "Dust" and fleeting, Don Ameche-sung "Now It Can Be Told" - are probably best left forgotten. Another two - the aptly titled "Merrily We Live" and "The Cowboy and the Lady" - are kind of fun in a TV sitcom theme song kind of way...you bop your ahead along until the 90 seconds are over and then raise your eyebrow in disbelief that this stuff somehow garnered an Oscar nom.
A few of the pieces recognized are nicely performed, but not especially memorable - I'm looking at "Always and Always" from the Joan Crawford starrer Mannequin; "A Mist over the Moon," an early and rather overlong Oscar Hammerstein effort; and "My Own," admirably belted out by That Certain Age leading lady Deanna Durbin.
For me, this ultimately comes down to the three remaining nominees - the Louis Armstrong-performed "Jeepers Creepers," Fred Astaire crooning another Oscar nominated track with "Change Partners" and the winner, the classic Bob Hope-Shirley Ross duet "Thanks for the Memory."
Depending on the performer, "Jeepers Creepers" can be a headache-inducing jingle. Armstrong just happens to sell it perfectly. Astaire's "Change Partners" is warm, lovely and charming, albeit not quite in the same league as say, "The Way You Look Tonight." Ultimately, I side with the delightful "Thanks for the Memory," as I think it quite clearly has best-stood the test of time, of these 10 nominees. While "Change Partners" comes close and you can't go wrong with that Armstrong vocal, I think "Thanks for the Memory" is really the only truly timeless and iconic track to be found here.
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
- "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)