Wednesday, January 31, 2018

31 Days of Oscar 2018

With tomorrow being February 1, it's once again time for TCM's annual 31 Days of Oscar. This year, the movies are going to be grouped by a category in which all of the movies in that group were nominated. Obviously, a lot of movies were nominated for multiple Oscars, so many of the movies could have been scheduled on various days. I haven't looked through the schedule closely enough to see whether they specifically put Oscar-winners in prime time, although there are some Oscar-winners during the daytime.

Anyhow, the first category up is Best Original Song, which is an interesting category in that there are a quite a few mediocre movies that could be used in 31 Days of Oscar only because the movie has a song that was nominated. Lionel Richie was nominated for writing the song "Endless Love" used in the 1981 movie. I can't imagine any other reason that movie would be nominated.

But that's not why I'm writing about the Best Original Song category. In fact, that's not what it was originally. (The Academy's searchable database lists the category as "Music (Song)", as opposed to "Music (Score)".) Tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM, TCM is running Lady Be Good. This movie, about a songwriter in an on-again, off-again relationship, won the Oscar for its song "The Last Time I Saw Paris", beating out stuff like "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" (from Sun Valley Serenade) and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B" (from Buck Privates). Jerome Kern wrote the music with Oscar Hammerstein providing the lyrics.

The only thing is, "The Last Time I Saw Paris" wasn't original to the movie Lady Be Good. It had been written a year earlier in response to the Nazis marching into Paris, and the thought that people weren't going to see Paris again, at least not as it was. Jerome Kern, despite picking up a statuette, campaigned for it not to win, as well as for a rules change.

The rules were later changed, and there are a bunch of songs since then that are well known from their use in movies, but which would not be eligible because they were not originally written for the movie.

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