Movie Morsel: The First Oscar for “Best Song”
There is no question that music make a movie. The right music or song can set a tone, create atmosphere, incite emotional response, and create a memorable carry-away that will keep audiences thinking about the film long after they have left the theatre. From “Over the Rainbow” and “When You Wish Upon a Star” to “My Heart Will Go On” and “The Streets of Philadelphia”, there is no denying the long-term impact the right song can have on a movie’s legacy. As I was thinking about this year’s round of ditties nominated in the “Best Song” Oscar category, I started wondering: what song won the first Academy Award for Best Song? It happens that the first winner was a song from the 1934 film The Gay Divorcee. The song is called “The Continental” with music by Con Conrad and lyrics by Herb Magidson. It has a jaunty little melody. In the film, it is sung by Ginger Rogers to Fred Astaire. Of course, later in the film, the duo dance to the catchy number in an elaborate sequence. Other songs nominated that year included “Carioca” from Flying Down to Rio (another vehicle for Astaire and Rogers) with music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Edward Eliscu and Gus Kahn, and “Love in Bloom” from She Loves Me Not, music by Ralph Rainger and lyrics by Leo Robin.
Fun Fact: Fred and Ginger liked working together and had an excellent rapport. They did not, however, like being referred to as a dancing couple or duo. Each had long and prosperous careers outside their association with each other.