As I said, the Insitute's top ten picks were safe and predictable choices. Once past those, however, picking the rest of the top 100 gets much more difficult. Here's our look at the second tier of the AFI's Top 100 Movie Songs.
#11 The Man That Got Away
from A Star Is Born
Warner Bros. Studios
Oh Boy! A torch song! Now we're talking my kind of music! "The Man That Got Away" conveys the heartache of love gone wrong, and sung by Judy Garland in a smokey piano bar scene it overwhelms the emotions. The tragedy of Judy Gardland's life just makes this all the more poignant. The movie was not one of my favorites, but there can never be too much Judy Garland for me. Don't even go there.
#12 Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
20th Century Fox Studios
So, lighten up a little and remember this film was from the 1950's when feminism was still just a twinkle in Germaine Greer's eyes. Marilyn Monroe's legendary performance in this film was unabashedly over the top - joyously so, and thoroughly entertaining. Paired with another sex-bomb, Jane Russell (see "The Outlaw"), this song became Marilyn's signature piece. I've always thought that Marilyn Monroe was underappreciated as an actress. Her breathy voice made it easy to dismiss her as ditzy blonde, but she often rose above the stereotype to deliver touching performances in films like her last one with Clark Gable, "The Misfits". Her abilities as a comic actress are daunting when you consider her performances in movies like "The Seven Year Itch," "Some Like It Hot" and "How To Marry A Millionaire." Go rent some of these films and see what I mean. Maybe the rest of us all lose our charms in the end, but for me, Marilyn never did.
from Funny Girl
I think I'm still sick of hearing "People Who Need People," and that's from about 40 years ago. Sorry, much as I appreciate Barbara Striesand, this song was just too trite for my taste and the fact that the radio played it ad-naseum at the time didn't help my opinion. The movie, while hardly a giant in Hollywood history, was a pleasant vehicle for pairing Ms. B with the dashing Omar Sharif who was coming off the epic hits "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Dr. Zhivago." This one just isn't my cup of tea. There's much better to be had from award-winning composer Jule Styne, as we'll see later on down the list.
#14 My Heart Will Go On
I think the AFI's opinion of this song was too heavily influenced by the popularity of both the movie and Celine Dion. It's not that I didn't like the movie. It's the sort of summer blockbuster that we've come to expect over the past 15-20 years, but it's not one of my favorites and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any impact that the song had on American culture.
#15 Cheek to Cheek
from Top Hat
I would have placed this song much higher, but I think it suffered in the AFI's opinion because the Fred Astaire movies like "Top Hat" were often such yawners that served only as an excuse to show the dancing prowess of Mr. Astaire and his partners, notably Ginger Rogers. But few songs from the 1930's had the longevity or the popularity as "Cheek to Cheek." It sums up the feelings of young men everywhere when they're holding their best girl in their arms - whether on the dance floor or back home on the living room couch ;-) You couldn't ask for more entertainment than watching Fred and Ginger do their stuff.
from A Star Is Born
Now here we have a Streisand song that's worth of consideration. It's a gentle, yet captivating love song that shows us just why she's considered such an enormously talented singer. Still at the height of her talent, Evergreen has a range of emotion that "People" just never touched. I never saw the film, but I can't imagine it was in the same class as the one with Judy Garland. Much as I like Kris Kristopherson, both as a singer and an actor, it's just not a memorable film.
#17 I Could Have Danced All Night
from My Fair Lady
Of all the musicals that made the transition from the stage to the screen, I think "My Fair Lady" gained the most from the process. Although I certainly would have loved to have seen Julie Andrews reprise her role from the Broadway production, there's no denying that Audrey Hepburn made Eliza Doolittle a classic of American cinema, even though they dubbed her voice for singing. Paired with the debonair Brit Rex Harrison, "My Fair Lady" is an extravaganza of talent that deserves to be much higher on this list.
One of the crowning achievements in Bob Fosse's career was the film version of "Cabaret." Liza Minelli's outstanding performance highlighted this musical extravaganza that gave us a taste of Berlin in the 1930's during the rise of Nazism. And she and Joel Gray knocked the ball out of the park in the comic routine "Money" with its finely-crafted lyrics. But the movie was a drag, so to speak, whenever the music stopped. This is another choice based far more on the quality and popularity of the music than the movie it came from.
#19 Some Day My Prince Will Come
from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Walt Disney Studios
The Fairest of Them All, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" introduced audiences to the animated feature. It was groundbreaking movie in many respects, including the use of live models to choreograph the animation. The crystal-clear voice of young Adriana Casselotti charmed movie audiences when this movie debuted in 1937 and has continued to this day. The song "Some Day My Price Will Come" shone above the other light-hearted numbers and solidified the position that animated features have enjoyed over the decades since. There are few accolades that have not already been worn thin when discussing Snow White, and so I won't bore you by trying to out-praise other critics. As a representative of this wonderful movie, "Some Day" is a worthy entrant on this list, but a couple of others also deserve mention. "Whistle While You Work" and "Heigh-Ho" are fine songs that were very popular in their day, too!
from West Side Story
"West Side Story" was an enormously popular stage play and the film version was another example of a play benefitting from the larger stage. The play was praised for its social commentary, even though it was a candy-coated remake of "Romeo and Juliet". Starring Natalie Wood as Maria, the film brought modern dance to Middle America. The Steven Sondheim lyrics paired with Leonard Bernstein's score were dramatic and touching, but I don't think they have withstood the test of time. This ballad which tells the tale of the star-crossed lovers may be the sole exception, and there's no denying that West Side Story had a cultural impact in its day.