Okay, I’m running out of steam so we’ll close tonight’s exploration of Best Original Song Oscar-winners with the end of the 1950s. 1959 saw another award going to a Cahn-Van Heusen collaboration performed by Frank Sinatra: “High Hopes.” Which also happens to be a karaoke favorite of mine.
When Gigi, Lerner & Loewe’s written-for-film adaptation of the novella by Colette, took home the Best Original Song award, it had been five years since the Oscar went to a song from an actual musical. This isn’t my favorite song from Gigi, but what do I know? The film took home nine Oscars total, including Best Picture.
Fuck you, Bing Crosby. There’s a new king crooner! Frank Sinatra’s rendition of the Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn title song for Three Coins in the Fountain bests Crosby’s rendition of “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” from Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Also in the running? “The Man That Got Away.”
I love me some Jule Styne/Frank Sinatra collaboration, but I think Oscar got it wrong. “The Man That Got Away” is head and shoulders above the rest of them. Oh, well. On the other hand, this was Cahn’s first win after 8 previous nominations. He would go on to be one of the champions in this category, tying at the top of the heap with four wins, along with Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen, and Alan Menken.
I think it’s safe to say that 1953’s Best Original Song, “Secret Love,” was the gayest song to win the Oscar by that point. Doris Day (gay icon) playing a butch character (Calamity Jane) singing a song about a love that had to be kept secret? FULL OF GAY, which is to say, full of win.
And speaking of full of win, it was a first win for both Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, who would go on to write such classics as the theme song to Spider-Man.
1952’s Best Original Song was “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’,” the theme from High Noon. First Best Song win for composer Dmitri Tiomkin, and a second win for lyricist Ned “When You Wish Upon A Star” Washington. Performed by Tex Ritter.
Tiomkin also won the Oscar that year for his score to High Noon, making him the first composer to win both composition awards for the same film.
Feel like it’s been a few too many posts without a Bing Crosby appearance? Wait not longer, here comes 1951’s “In The Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” from Here Comes the Groom. The lady singing with him is Jane “I Was Married to Ronald Regan Before He Was Evil” Wyman. A first win for composer Hoagy Carmichael, but a second for lyricist Johnny Mercer.
Also? How adorable is this song. It’s one of my favorite earworms.
The first Best Original Song Oscar of the ’50s went to “Mona Lisa” - a second win for Livingston & Evans. The song was from the film Captain Carey, U.S.A. but I can’t find the clip or any reference to how the song was used in the movie. It’s not even clear to me if Nat “King” Cole’s vocal version of the song was in the film or just on the soundtrack album. Regardless, it’s a great song.
Incidentally, as I’m typing this, Billy Crystal is singing a Livingston & Evans melody (to the theme of Mr. Ed) on the Oscar telecast.
In 1949, the Academy gave the award to everybody’s favorite song about date rape!
Oddly, the more famous rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Esther WIlliams and Ricardo Montalban (in the film Neptune’s Daughter) isn’t on YouTube, but the reprise by Betty Garrett and Red Skelton (doing a vaguely racist impression of Montalban) is.