WON: "Gigi," Gigi
SHOULD'VE WON: "A Certain Smile," A Certain Smile
Ah, 1958, the year of incredible motion pictures like Vertigo, Touch of Evil and Indiscreet. Yes, the Academy did largely ignore those three at the Oscars that year, but they did at least recognize the likes of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Separate Tables, both very strong films as well. Yet, in spite of this sea of fine cinema, the Academy had to go and get all ga-ga over Gigi, Vincente Minnelli's lovely-looking, yet dull-as-dishwater musical romcom, for the Best Picture and Director prizes.
The film's luck extended to Best Original Song as well, where the title tune, "performed" by Louis Jourdan (I say "performed," given he's really more talking than actually singing here), emerged triumphant. Like the rest of Gigi, "Gigi" is nice to look at - all of the scenery surrounding Jourdan in this scene is gorgeously shot - but the song on its own terms isn't anything in the slightest to write home about.
Thing is, the rest of '58 Best Original Song isn't terribly noteworthy either.
For me, it's pretty much a three-way jumpball among "A Certain Smile" (performed by Johnny Mathis), "Almost in Your Arms" (Sam Cooke) and "To Love and Be Loved" (Frank Sinatra) - three vocal legends, though none of the songs really quite pop. I give the Mathis track the slight edge over Sinatra's - there is a nice aura of Technicolor romance to it, even if, like a lot of the Mathis discography, it borders on the overly sentimental. The Cooke track, while charming, is a little too short to leave much of an impact.
The remaining tune, "A Very Precious Love," is performed by Gene Kelly in Marjorie Morningstar (not exactly among the more memorable Natalie Wood vehicles), yet doesn't leave much of any impression at all. Doris Day later covered it to greater success but, to be fair, Doris Day could sing a phone book and make it sound marvelous.
Note that with the exception of the Gigi team (Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner), all of this year's composers were also nominees in '57 Best Original Song.
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)
- "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)