1974 - Best Original Song
The nominees were...
WON: "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno
SHOULD'VE WON: "I Feel Love," Benji
Moving from the year of "The Way We Were" and "Live and Let Die" to a line-up featuring not just one but inexplicably two maudlin Maureen McGovern tunes...oy.
While 1973 marked what is perhaps the strongest Best Original Song line-up of the decade, '74 nearly competes with the truly dreadful '72 as the decade's bottom of the barrel in original music for the big screen. If not for a couple of these nominees, this category would be roughly on-par with the sounds of cats shrieking or knives on a chalkboard.
The two somewhat redeeming nominees here are "I Feel Love," the cute, supremely pleasant theme from the cute, supremely pleasant Benji, and "Blazing Saddles," from the side-splitting Mel Brooks film. While I can appreciate the nod for "Blazing Saddles," and perhaps even view it as something of a make-up nomination for the egregious snubbing of "Springtime for Hitler" a few years back, it isn't a especially funny or memorable tune. In fact, I could see it serving as the theme to just about any generic western. It's not a bad song, just a slight one, and that gives the solid edge for me to the Benji track.
Beyond Benji and Brooks, however, this line-up is not something to be celebrated.
The one non-McGovern track is "Little Prince," from the eponymous Stanley Donan picture. The Donan film is OK for the most part, an idiosyncratic fantasy-musical featuring the likes of Gene Wilder, Bob Fosse and Donna McKechnie, but the music, from the Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Lowe team that inflicted Gigi and My Fair Lady on the masses, is awfully underwhelming, with the same grating talk-singing that was so prominent in those two pictures.
"Little Prince" is not, however, quite as ear-piercing as the remaining two tracks, both belted out by the aforementioned McGovern, who, as basically a poor man's Karen Carpenter, managed to attach herself to some of the decade's stinkiest cheese on the big screen.
The losing McGovern song, "Wherever Love Takes Me," from the deservedly forgotten Roger Moore yarn Gold (advice: at all costs, avoid pretty much every non-Bond Moore vehicle), is actually a tad less horrendous than the winner this year, "We May Never Love Like This Again" (from the title alone, you just know what kind of soggy dreck you're getting into), from Irwin Allen's star-studded The Towering Inferno. Somehow, this song manages to be even more shamelessly sentimental (in the worst way possible) than McGovern's "The Morning After," which in '72 seemed to set new standards for movie music crapola.
I'd like to think neither "The Morning After" nor "We May Never Love Like This Again" would have had a prayer of prevailing if they just had remotely formidable competition. Unfortunately, Michael Jackson's "Ben" in '72 and the rest of the line-up here in '74 just weren't very daunting.
In terms of tunes snubbed in '74, I'm afraid it was pretty slim pickings all-around this year, although Curtis Mayfield's soulful "On and On," performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips forClaudine (which netted the great Diahann Carroll a Best Actress Oscar nom), is head and shoulders above all of the songs recognized here. Beyond that, however, I can't think of a whole lot - even the Bond theme this year, "The Man with the Golden Gun," is a snooze.
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)
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
- "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
- "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
- "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)
- "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
- "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
- "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
- "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)
- "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
- "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)