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MyFavoriteFilms

Best Song Oscar winners: 30s & 40s

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Like with any music, some tunes are instant classics and others are probably forgotten by the next generation. But many of these Oscar winners live on...

 

*_The 1930s:_*

 

1934: *The Continental, from THE GAY DIVORCEE*

Introduced by Ginger Rogers. This was the very first song honored with an Oscar.

 

1935: *Lullaby of Broadway, from GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935*

This song was written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. It was reused in the 1951 Doris Day film.

 

1936:*The Way You Look Tonight, from SWING TIME*

This was Fred Astaire's biggest hit record, co-written by Jerome Kern.

 

1937: *Sweet Leilani, from WAIKIKI WEDDING*

The first of many Best Song winners crooned by Bing Crosby.

 

1938: *Thanks for the Memories, from THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938*

Sung by Crosby's buddy, Bob Hope. It became Hope's signature song.

 

1939: *Somewhere Over the Rainbow, from THE WIZARD OF OZ*

This was the #1 tune on the Songs of the Century list (20th century).

 

*_The 1940s:_*

 

1940: *When You Wish Upon a Star, from PINOCCHIO*

A much-revered classic...you might say it became Disney's signature song.

 

1941: *The Last Time I Saw Paris, from LADY BE GOOD*

The song was reused by MGM in the 1954 film.

 

1942: *White Christmas, from HOLIDAY INN*

This placed second on the Songs of the Century list (20th century). It was used again in the 1954 remake.

 

1943: *You'll Never Know, from HELLO, FRISCO, HELLO*

An instant classic introduced by Alice Faye.

 

1944: *Swinging on a Star, from GOING MY WAY*

Another Bing Crosby number that became an Oscar winner.

 

1945: *It Might As Well Be Spring, from STATE FAIR.*

One of the rare instances where Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote music specifically for the screen. Most of their efforts were originally for the stage, then later adapted to film.

 

1946: *On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe, from THE HARVEY GIRLS*

The first of four Best Song compositions by Johnny Mercer.

 

1947: *Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, from SONG OF THE SOUTH*

Definitely one of Disney's more memorable award-winning tunes.

 

1948: *Buttons and Bows, from THE PALEFACE*

Another winning number introduced by Bob Hope. It became his biggest-selling record.

 

1949: *Baby, It's Cold Outside from NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER*

The only win for Tin Pan Alley musician Frank Loesser (he was nominated four more times).

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Indeed many of these are songs are jazz standards and a must to know for any serious jazz musician;

 

Lullaby of Broadway, The Way You Look Tonight, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and It Might As Well Be Spring being the most popular as it releates to jazz records.

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Yes, when I was researching many of these classic hit songs, it was interesting to note how many artists had done successful covers. For example, Frank Sinatra redid You'll Never Know (though I think Faye's version is hard to top). And Ella Fitzgerald of course put her stamp on several of these tunes...jazzing them up.

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...and in many of those years, I think there was a nominated song that was far superior to the one that won.. Just for starters. 1944---"Long Ago and Far Away" from COVER GIRL; 1945---"I Fall in Love Too Easily" from ANCHORS AWEIGH; 1948---"It's Magic" from ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS.

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The reason I started researching this topic is because I had rented THE JOLSON STORY thru Netflix. Some of the music is just spectacular, and I wanted to see if the picture won an Oscar for any of the songs. It did not. Instead, it won Academy Awards for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound, Recording.

 

I would love to get the soundtrack for this. The songs included:

 

Let Me Sing and I?m Happy

Banks of the Wabash

Ave Maria

When You Were Sweet Sixteen

After the Ball

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Blue Bell

Ma Blushin? Rosie

I Want a Girl

My Mammy

I?m Sitting on Top of the World

You Made Me Love You

Swanee

Toot, Toot, Tootsie! (Goo? Bye)

The Spaniard That Blighted My Life

April Showers

California, Here I Come

Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)

There?s a Rainbow ?Round My Shoulder

Avalon

She?s a Latin from Manhattan

About, a Quarter to Nine

Anniversary Song

Waiting for the Robert E. Lee

Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody

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These are great songs that many people still know today. Also, they can still be viewed in their original films. All except for Zip-a-dee-doo-dah from SONG OF THE SOUTH. To experience this one, you have to go to the Disney parks and ride a ride Splash Mountain. I don't think the film will ever be available in this country again. :(

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Some of these years are remarkable--there are so many amazing songs all nominated in one year! Like 1936 for example. How could you choose between "Lovely to Look at," "Cheek to Cheek", and the winner, "Lullaby of Broadway"? (These are the kind of problems you want to have.) Such incredible songs! You can pretty much pick any year in the 30s and 40s and there's at least 2 or 3 songs in the category that are amazing. How I miss those days!

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From what I read, the clip from SONG OF THE SOUTH featuring this classic has been rebroadcast many times in America. But it's the only thing from this controversial film that gets shown. However, in Europe the entire film has been released on video.

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I agree, Lonesome...they don't make hits like these anymore. When I looked at the 90s and 2000s, most of the songs were ones I had never even heard before, and they were the most recent ones. They just don't stick with you like the earlier ones.

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One of the Academy's early mistakes...awarding The Continental over Cole Porter's Night and Day. Not that the Continental is a bad song. It's a really fun number albeit too long but Night and Day is amazing.

 

And coincidentally I just got copies of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Swinging on a Star, and White Christmas for my Ipod. :)

 

 

edit: I think I also would have went with Cheek to Cheek in 1935.

 

Edited by: Kinokima on Oct 20, 2010 8:51 PM

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Another travesty: "Sweet Leilani" wins in 1938 over... "They Can't Take That Away From Me," an immortal Gerswhin tune! GASP!!!

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Maybe the greatest Oscar "best song" injustice ever was in 1967, when Bacharach-David's great "The Look of Love", from CASINO ROYALE, lost out to "Talk to the Animals", from DOCTOR DOOLITTLE.

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In a day or so, I am going to make a thread for the best song winners of the 50s & 60s. I will stop at the end of the production code.

 

With this thread, I wanted to look at the idea that musical compositions seemed to be much stronger in the past. With the exception of Disney's pop hits used in animation releases of the late 80s and 90s, I think the best tunes were produced during the classic Hollywood era.

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