WON: "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses
SHOULD'VE WON: "Walk on the Wild Side," Walk on the Wild Side
Now THIS is a terrific category. Year after year in reviewing these categories, there is almost always (if not legitimately always, thus far) at least one dud or underwhelmer in Best Original Song. That simply isn't the case with 1962, the year "Days of Wine and Roses," the moving and subtle Henry Mancini piece from the startling Jack Lemmon-Lee Remick picture of the same name, took home the trophy.
And while I have no real qualms with Mancini prevailing here, just as he did the year before with "Moon River," '62 Original Song is so strong that even a terrific piece like "Days of Wine and Roses" can fall short.
For me, the most impressive nominee here comes from the weakest picture, by far - "Walk on the Wild Side," an Elmer Bernstein-Mack David piece from the ludicrous, star-studded (as in, Jane Fonda, Anne Baxter and Barbara Stanwyck, among others) soap of the same name. It's a real knockout, performed with considerable zest by the great R&B vocalist Brook Benton. Benton may be best-known for his duets opposite the equally great Dinah Washington but "Walk on the Wild Side" proves he was a force to be reckoned with on his own terms too.
"Tender Is the Night" and "Second Chance," performed by Tony Bennett and Jackie Cain, respectively, are very powerful vocal showcases - I've actually listened to the Bennett track most over the past couple of days, if exclusively for his powerful performance. In most years, songs like these, "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Days of Wine and Roses" could easily be my winning pick.
The fifth nominee, "Follow Me," from the not-great Marlon Brando Mutiny on the Bounty, is clearly dead last of this line-up but nonetheless a pretty fascinating track - it's often cited as "Love Song from Mutiny on the Bounty," yet it strikes me as more unsettling than it does romantic. I could swear I've heard something near-identical in one of the Exorcist pictures.
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)
- "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)