Scranton native Ned Washington wrote a handful of songs which have since become standards, including “Stella By Starlight,” “Wild Is the Wind,” “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You,” “Green Dolphin Street” and “The Nearness of You.”
He also netted Oscars for a pair of movie tunes: “When You Wish Upon A Star” from “Pinocchio” and “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’” from “High Noon.”
Among Washington’s finest achievements is “Let’s Do It Again!” (1953, Sony Choice, unrated, $20), his last full-scale musical. A song-filled remake of “The Awful Truth,” the film stars Ray Milland and Jane Wyman in roles originally played by Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.
The plot is silly but fun. Wyman stars as a retired musical comedy star who decides to teach her philandering songwriter husband (Milland) a lesson by stepping out with an Alaskan millionaire (the charming Pen Argyl native Aldo Ray).
The scheme backfires and soon Milland is engaged to an heiress. It’s up to Wyman to break up that union before her divorce from Milland becomes final.
Washington’s music figures prominently in the action. Wyman ensnares Ray with “I’m a Takin’ a Slow Burn” while co-star Valerie Bettis separates the men from the boys with “The Call of the Wild.” Wyman performs the same song later in the movie to cries of “go, girl, go” from members of her audience.
“Let’s Do It Again” pales in comparison to “The Awful Truth” – most comedies do – but it offers up charming performances as well as a handful of tunes that still sound fresh and dynamic six decades after they were written.