WON AND SHOULD'VE WON: "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls
1946 marks one of my favorite years at the Oscars - not only did The Best Years of Our Lives (one of my all-time favorite films) take home the Best Picture trophy, but I also adore fellow Best Picture nominees Henry V, It's a Wonderful Life and The Razor's Edge (as for The Yearling, it's fine, albeit not quite in the same league). This year also sports a really dynamite and underrated Best Actress line-up, with winner Olivia de Havilland, the brilliant Celia Johnson, Jennifer Jones, Rosalind Russell and Jane Wyman all operating right around the tops of their games.
'46 Original Song, however, is a pretty obscure and all-around merely decent crew of songs. There's not really a rotten apple in the bunch, but there's also nothing to get terribly head-over-heels about.
Bing Crosby's "You Keep Coming Back Like a Song" is listenable enough, but hardly in the same tier as the likes of "White Christmas" or "Pennies from Heaven." "All Through the Day," from Otto Preminger's musical Centennial Summer, is pleasantly performed by James Melton but not a particularly interesting tune itself.
Getting a bit warmer, "Ole Buttermilk Sky" if a fun, toe-tapping piece of fluff, performed completely convincingly by Hoagy Carmichael. And Betty Grable delivers a stunning vocal turn on "I Can't Begin to Tell You," even though the song itself kind of sounds like a microwaved "You'll Never Know" wannabe.
Ultimately, I think the Academy got this one right - the delightful "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" is the strongest in a rather modest bunch. It's hardly among the best Judy Garland songs (though her performance of the tune on The Judy Garland Show is pretty damn fantastic, and more effective than the movie track), but it is a plenty enjoyable sing-a-long that's really just as satisfying as "The Trolley Song."
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...
- "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
- "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
- "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
- "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
- "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
- "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
- "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
- "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
- "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)