The Ship Must Sail Tonight (1957)

I’m currently head over heels in love with this 1957 Danish contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest:

The title means “The ship must sail tonight”, and the song is a duet (obviously)  about a sailor who has to leave his beloved as his ship is taking off. They sing about their sadness to be parting, their vows to be faithful to each other and then go on to ponder on the random nature of our existence, complete with adorably cheesy ship metaphors: We make all sorts of plans in our lives, but our happiness is “only on shore leave”, as the song affirms. I won’t tire you with a direct translation of the song, which was never meant to be understood in the first place: It was unsubtitled, and this was the first time the Danish language was ever heard in the European Song Contest. Plus, the singers more than make up for what’s lost in translation it by way of their elaborate stage show. The picture! The engagement ring! And let’s not forget the final, very long, languid smooch which was actually never meant to be that long: Some stagehand was supposed to signal for the singers to break it up, but failed to do so, and I like to think Gustav Winkler, the male singer, made the best of this omission, laying it on Birthe Wilke big-time. (Is it me or is he really kind of dreamy, by the way, that Winckler? He’s so suave and manly, slipping that ring on her finger!). Also, I’ve heard a rumor that that prolonged kiss was the main reason why the song did not win the Song Contest that year, because it was considered scandalous, but I haven’t been able to find any validation of this. Let’s decide that it’s true, though, because otherwise it doesn’t make any sense that this little gem of a sailor duet wouldn’t have come in first.

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