WON: "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers
SHOULD'VE WON: "Whistling Away the Dark," Darling Lili
1970, the year the Academy embraced monumental pictures including Patton and MASH, yet also nausea-inducing dreck like Airport and Love Story, marked a comparably mixed bag in the category of Best Original Song, sporting a truly grand Julie Andrews tune and respectable winner in "For All We Know," but also a couple of real snoozes.
"For All We Know," which later proved a big, fat Billboard hit for The Carpenters, was originally performed by Larry Meredith in the dated, though occasionally well-acted comedy Lovers and Other Strangers. A collaboration between composer Fred Karlin and Robb Royer and Jimmy Griffin, the latter two members of the soft rock band Bread, it is, much like most of The Carpenters' output, a pleasant, warm song, albeit a bit fleeting at under two minutes in length. Given the weakness of the year, I can't knock its victory too much, though it doesn't stand out in any real significant way.
My favorite of the line-up is Henry Mancini's "Whistling Away the Dark," from the notorious Blake Edwards musical flop Darling Lili, the picture which served as an inspiration to Edwards' hilarious and underrated S.O.B. The film may have proven a catastrophe at the box office but it does feature a remarkable performance from its leading lady and Andrews just about blows the roof off the joint in this number. She commands the screen here in a way that recalls Barbra Streisand's solo numbers in Funny Girl.
From there, the category gets a whole lot less remarkable, although "'Til Love Touches Your Life," from the obscure Leslie Caron picture Madron, does feature some pretty nifty instrumental work - it is, however, also a bit overlong and not very notable lyrically or vocally.
"Pieces of Dreams," another Legrand-Bergman-Bergman collaboration, is powerfully performed by Shirley Bassey for the dreadful Lauren Hutton drama of the same name, but certainly not among the composers' finest hours. The final nominee, Leslie Bricusse's "Thank You Very Much," from the Albert Finney-headlined Scrooge, is enthusiastically performed in the picture but I don't think works at all on its own terms, without the imagery of the choreography. It's also, much like the film itself, just kind of drab.
Robbed in a big way of a nomination this year (and more memorable than even the Andrews track) - Johnny Mandel's unforgettable theme to MASH, "Suicide Is Painless."
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)
- "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
- "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
- "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)
- "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
- "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)