WON: "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins
SHOULD'VE WON: "Dear Heart," Dear Heart
1964 is among the most aggravating years at the Oscars - it's the one where the dull-as-dishwater My Fair Lady crushed the brilliant likes of Becket and Dr. Strangelove just about across-the-board. Rex Harrison defeated Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and Peter Sellers, while George Cukor outpaced Peter Glenville and Stanley Kubrick - the bottom line being I'm not the happiest camper when it comes to diving into this year.
The state of Best Original Song in '64 is not much more uplifting - in fact, it's kind of worse, not because the Academy's nominees are bad (they're actually decent, for the most part), but because of what was omitted. Somehow, the Oscars managed to ignore both Shirley Bassey's incredible theme to Goldfinger - arguably the greatest Bond song of all - and every wonderful track from The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night. Imagine if this category were instead...
"Can't Buy Me Love," A Hard Day's Night
"A Hard Day's Night," A Hard Day's Night
"And I Love Her," A Hard Day's Night
"If I Fell," A Hard Day's Night
That would've pretty much been the greatest Best Original Song line-up ever. Alas, in spite of Goldfinger winning the Best Sound Effects category this year, and A Hard Day's Night garnering noms in Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Score (losing to the lackluster Father Goose and My Fair Lady, respectively), there was inexplicably no love in this particular category.
Instead, what we're left with is a respectable but largely unexciting batch of nominees.
"Chim Chim Cher-ee," performed by the great Dick Van Dyke in Disney's Mary Poppins, is, I suppose, a memorable tune, but is it really even among the best songs from the film? I would count "A Spoonful of Sugar," "I Love to Laugh," "A Man Has Dreams," "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and especially "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" as quite superior to the Academy's favorite. Perhaps Disney randomly went all-in with an Oscar campaign for this one song at the time? It just strikes me as rather odd.
"Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte," from the marvelous Bette Davis-Olivia De Havilland horror-drama of the same name, and "Where Love Has Gone," from the not-so-marvelous Bette Davis-Susan Hayward melodrama of the same name, are capably performed by Al Martino and Jack Jones, respectively, albeit a bit on the mushy side. Soon after the film's release, Patti Page did a cover of "Hush...Hush" that has a bit more life to it than the Martino original.
My two favorites of the group are "Dear Heart," a gorgeous Henry Mancini piece, beautifully delivered by Andy Williams, and "My Kind of Town," Frank Sinatra's memorable ode to the City of Chicago. The Sinatra tune is nicely staged in Robin and the 7 Hoods and, over the years, emerged one of his reliable standbys in concert, but my heart is definitely with the Williams record here, particularly given it's showcased in filmmaker Delbert Mann's picture of the same name, which I absolutely adore (it features one of Geraldine Page's finest performances and has a lot of the same nuanced romance as Mann's Oscar-winning Marty).
With that said, "Goldfinger" or "A Hard Day's Night" would've triumphed here for me rather handily, had the Academy bothered to nominate them.
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)
- "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
- "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)
- "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
- "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)
- "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
- "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
- "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)