WON: "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday
SHOULD'VE WON: "The Green Leaves of Summer," The Alamo
Damn. For a moment, I thought maybe, just maybe "The Facts of Life," Oscar nominee for Best Original Song in 1960, was the same irresistible cheese that served as theme song to the great Charlotte Rae '80s sitcom. Alas, not only is that not the case, but I've been reminded that theme song connoisseur and TV dad Alan Thicke in fact served as co-writer on the '80s tune. Oh well.
Blair, Tootie, Jo, Natalie and Mrs. G aside, '60 Best Original Song is a mostly enjoyable affair and remarkable in at least one regard - it produced the first winner to hail from a foreign language film, the Melina Mercouri-starrer Never on Sunday, which also garnered a boatload of other nods that year, including for its leading lady and director, Jules Dassin (ultimately, it only went home with the Original Song prize).
I can't begrudge the Academy too much for going with "Never on Sunday" here - Mercouri's delivery of it is engaging and very sexy - but I've listened to covers of the tune and it doesn't seem to quite hold up on its own terms. I think the victory here is very much a product of Mercouri's dazzling performance and less of the song itself.
For me, '60 Original Song is actually a bit of a barn burner, not between "Never on Sunday" and another nominee, but rather "The Green Leaves of Summer," the theme from John Wayne's The Alamo, and "Faraway Part of Town," which is featured in the dreadful Catinflas "comedy" Pepe, yet very much notable as a late Judy Garland effort - and a fascinating one at that.
The Alamo really isn't among the greatest Wayne vehicles - in fact, it's pretty overbaked and arguably an entire hour overlong - but the music, from Dimitri Tiomkin, who also did High Noon, is fantastic and "The Green Leaves of Summer" is full of rich atmosphere. It was also later used to terrific effect in the opening sequence of Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. As for the Garland track, it's a terrific discovery, a fine song in its own right, lifted to even greater heights by her incredible vocal performance...but it's kind of tough for me to fully embrace this song for the win, given Garland doesn't even appear in Pepe - the tune merely plays in the background during one scene, featuring future Oscar-winner Shirley Jones. Since "The Green Leaves of Summer" is such an integral part of its film and "Faraway Part of Town," while plenty interesting, is basically a throwaway in its picture, I have to lean toward the former as my pick.
"The Facts of Life," from the enjoyable Bob Hope-Lucille Ball vehicle of the same name, is a fun, peppy little tune, utilized to nice effect in the picture's clever opening title sequence. It isn't quite in the same league as the other two nominees, though. Finally, there's "The Second Time Around," a Bing Crosby number from Blake Edwards' messy comedy High Time, and while it's been covered quite memorably a number of times since the original, including by Rosemary Clooney and Barbra Streisand, I actually find the Crosby version curiously flat.
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...
- "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "High Hopes," A Hole in the Head (1959)
- "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)
- "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
- "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)