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from The American Scholar

By David Lehman | April 28, 2020

Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot (1959). (TCM Mediaroom/Wikimedia Commons)

In an effort to be mildly unconventional, this list of songs, soundtracks, and musical moments from cinematic history omits all “best song” Oscar winners (“Over the Rainbow,” “Thanks for the Memory,” “Moon River”), old favorites (“Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “As Time Goes By”), justly celebrated soundtracks (Gone with the WindThe GodfatherVertigo2001), and numbers performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Judy Garland.

  1. “Isn’t it Romantic” (music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart) in Love Me Tonight(1932). This great standard is sung in a musical relay race begun by Paris tailor Maurice Chevalier in his shop and continued by a customer in a top hat, a taxi driver, a composer, a troop of soldiers, and a gypsy band, before reaching princess Jeanette MacDonald in the casement of her palace boudoir. The glamorous melody is whistled, performed as a violin solo, and sung as a show tune, a march, and an aria. You hear the tune in a lot of movies but usually without the words that you get here.


    For the other fourteen, click here.

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