Three Coins in the Fountain

  • The Song
  • Back Stories
composition date
Jule Styne
Sammy Cahn
related performer(s)
Frank Sinatra

The difference was Frank

Fox thought they had a bomb on their hands with the picture We Believe in Love, when producer Sol Siegel approached composer Jule Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn to write a title tune for the film. Styne asked Siegel why the film wasn’t titled after the book on which it was based, Three Coins in the Fountain. Siegel asked if it would be easier to write for that title and Cahn replied, “It’s a helluva lot easier than ‘We Believe in Love.’” The team worked all night and the next day played the new song for Siegel and Zanuck. Spyro Skouras, then the studio chief, didn’t like it and commented, “the other title had ‘love’ in it and that’s a good thing.” It seemed that the song was dead, but Zanuck told Styne that if he could get a big name to sing it, he could get it into the movie.

Styne had written several hits for Frank Sinatra and he was determined to extract a return favor. Learning that Sinatra was returning to LA from Europe with a stopover in New York, Styne booked himself on the same flight and got a seat next to him. He implored Sinatra for help and, worn down, the singer agreed to record the song the very next morning—but he didn’t want to be paid. Rather, there was a certain painting in a gallery that he admired. Sinatra got his painting, and both the record and the film were smash hits. PS: the song won the Academy Award. As Jule Styne said, “The difference was Frank Sinatra. Without him, it wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.”

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