WON: "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild
SHOULD'VE WON: "Tammy," Tammy and the Bachelor
While the 1957 Oscars found the Academy otherwise pitting against one another the hard-nosed likes of The Bridge on the River Kwai, 12 Angry Men and Witness for the Prosecution for top prizes, '57 Best Original Song could not possibly be a more lovey-dovey affair.
Here is a line-up stacked with love ballads, performed by the iconic likes of Frank Sinatra (on the winning "All the Way"), Debbie Reynolds ("Tammy"), Johnny Mathis ("Wild Is the Wind"), Vic Damone ("An Affair to Remember") and Pat Boone ("April Love"). It's not difficult to picture this famous fivesome taking an act on the road back in the day.
When it comes to romantic cheese like this, the kind that sends molasses running down your ear lobes upon listening, there can be the nostalgic and enjoyable (if perhaps in a guilty pleasure sort of way) and there can also be the intolerably sweet. In this particular category, though, all five tunes fall somewhere in the middle, none especially unforgettable and none (thankfully) so saccharin they send the blood sugar rising.
My favorite of the bunch would have to be Reynolds' "Tammy," from the warm and underrated Tammy and the Bachelor, which paired the wonderful Reynolds against a young and immensely charming Leslie Nielsen. The song itself isn't all that noteworthy - it's really kind of a middle-of-the-road effort from the Ray Evans-Jay Livingston team - but Reynolds' delivery is so moving and pitch-perfect, and watching her sing the tune in that glorious Technicolor is some real movie magic.
I also like Sinatra's "All the Way" and Mathis' "Wild Is the Wind" but there's no doubt both artists have done much, much better and more interesting work in their careers. I suppose I'd give the Mathis tune the edge of the two, given it does nicely evoke memories of the solid Anna Magnani-Anthony Quinn picture, while the Sinatra song just kind of reeks of Sinatra album filler, albeit listenable filler.
A bit less successful are the remaining two tracks. I love An Affair to Remember, yet diving into this category, I couldn't recall in the slightest the picture's theme song - turns out, that shouldn't be terribly surprising, for while Damone's vocal is decent, the tune doesn't have much of a hook and just comes off rather overbaked and hyperbolic...it lacks the subtlety of the film it's featured in. As for "April Love," like everything else Pat Boone ever laid his fingerprints on, it's generic and undistinguished as can be. Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" certainly should have taken one of these two slots.
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...
- "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
- "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
- "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
- "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
- "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
- "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
- "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
- "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
- "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
- "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
- "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
- "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
- "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
- "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
- "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
- "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
- "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
- "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)