A classic comedy from the late 1970s, The Jerk contains one of the more tender and touching ukulele numbers from a film in the modern era. A uke-toting Steve Martin joins forces with Bernadette Peters for a beach-strolling duet on a tune called “Tonight You Belong to Me,” written in the mid-1920s by composer Lee David and lyricist Billy Rose, and first recorded by Irving Kaufman.
As Sandor Nagyszalancy writes in his cool “Ukuleles on Screen” article from the Spring 2020 issue of Ukulele, “Martin and Peters later dubbed in their voices for the scene, synchronizing their singing (and Martin’s playing) to their on-screen performance. But despite Martin being an accomplished banjo player, his uke part was dubbed by Lyle Ritz, an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist who was part of L.A.’s famous ‘Wrecking Crew,’ a collective of select studio musicians (including Glenn Campbell and Leon Russell) who played the majority of instruments on hundreds of famous records.” Needless to say, Peters did not play her horn part, either.
Because of the enormous popularity of the film, the song has become something of ukulele standard. It’s quite lovely, we think you’ll agree; one of the few sane moments in the crazy and hilarious movie. —Blair Jackson