Hands down, the most transporting version of Harry Warren and Al Dubin‘s “I Only Have Eyes For You” was recorded in late 1958 by The Flamingos. What makes it work is the reverb plus the background singers doing the old two-part-harmony “sha-bop sha-bop“. But for years and years I thought they were singing “kah-LUCK-kah-luck.”
The reason I was a kah-LUCK-kah-lucker for so long is a brief scene in Billy Wilder‘s The Apartment (’60). Consolidated Life of New York executive Al Kirkeby (David Lewis) is ushering his office girlfriend Sylvia (Joan Shawlee) into the Upper West Side apartment building of C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) for an assignation, and as she climbs the stairs of Baxter’s brownstone Sheila is singing “kah-LUCK-kah-luck.” Sheila’s improv stuck in my mind.
The Apartment was shot in the fall of ’59 — “I Only Have Eyes For You” was released in April ’59, and was pretty much the definitive romantic song of the moment.
I’d forgotten this Wiki passage: “Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond based the film partially on a Hollywood scandal in which high-powered agent Jennings Lang was shot by producer Walter Wanger for having an affair with Wanger’s wife, actress Joan Bennett. During the affair, Lang used a low-level employee’s apartment.
“Another element of the plot was based on the experience of one of Diamond’s friends, who returned home after breaking up with his girlfriend to find that she had committed suicide in his bed.”