WON: "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle
SHOULD'VE WON: "The Look of Love," Casino Royale
1967 should have marked one of the all-time great line-ups for the Best Picture Oscar. It includes brilliant and iconic motion pictures like The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde, both right up there among the finest films of the decade, if not the century. That year's winner, In the Heat of the Night, is also a terrific, superbly acted piece of cinema and while not everyone is a fan of this one, I still find (the admittedly somewhat dated) Guess Who's Coming to Dinner immensely entertaining. If the Academy had rounded out this category with a film like Two for the Road, Cool Hand Luke, In Cold Blood or The Whisperers, among other fine films from '67, this really would have been one of the Academy's most impressive collection of pictures vying for the top prize.
Alas, that fifth slot did not go to any of those aforementioned films. It went, inexplicably, to Doctor Dolittle, the dull and charmless Rex Harrison vehicle that didn't even have the hearts of audiences or critics back in the day, yet managed to land a slew of Oscar nominations on account of an aggressive marketing campaign by 20th Century Fox.
Fox's success extended to the Best Original Song category in '67, where the lifeless "Talk to the Animals," composed by the usually terrific Leslie Bricusse (who later did marvelous work on films including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Victor/Victoria), claimed victory. Much like fellow winners "Gigi" and "Call Me Irresponsible," it's a tune more spoken than sung by the leading man, except "Gigi" was at least featured in a sumptuously photographed scene and "Call Me Irresponsible" had some nice lyrics that were just dampened by Jackie Gleason's lame delivery. This is a lackluster song, showcased in a grating film and performed completely unremarkably.
All the more frustrating is the winner's competition this year was actually, for the most part, quite terrific.
"The Look of Love," yet another Burt Bacharach-Hal David triumph (after "Alfie" the year prior), is performed dazzlingly by the incomparable Dusty Springfield. And "The Bare Necessities" is of course among the most iconic tunes of the entire Disney catalogue. The fight for this prize clearly should have been an all-out barn burner between these two. (Ultimately, I do have a tad more enthusiasm for the former track.)
The other two nominees here are just OK. "The Eyes of Love," from Robert Wagner's oddball golf (!) drama Banning, marks one of Quincy Jones' first Oscar nods (he was nominated twice this year, also for In Cold Blood in Best Original Score), but, by Jones standards at least, is surprisingly by-the-numbers stuff, sounding like something Frank Sinatra may have rejected. "Thoroughly Modern Millie," from the eponymous Julie Andrews picture, is a curiously low-energy (like the film itself) piece from the usually terrific Sammy Cahn-Jimmy Van Heusen team. It was later adapted to much greater success on Broadway, headlined by Sutton Foster.
Egregiously snubbed this year, in spite of an Oscar nom for John Williams' fine score for the film, was "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls," a gorgeous ballad for Dionne Warwick, composed by the great André Previn. Also ignored, albeit not quite on the same level as that tune, was Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice," from the Bond flick of the same name, which, while perhaps not quite up there with the likes of "Goldfinger" or "Nobody Does It Better," most certainly would have been a deserving Oscar nominee this year.
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)
- "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
- "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)
- "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
- "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)