Film Music Review
The Sammy awards










The 16th Annual
Best Film Music Releases



There are three time periods for the older soundtracks:

The Golden Age -- 1930s to 1950s

The Silver Age -- 1960s and 1970s

The Bronze Age -- 1980s and 1990s



Selected by Roger L. Hall


Film Music Review - Sweet 16

Best New Soundtrack CDs

Best Golden Age Soundtrack

Best Silver Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Compilation CDs



Selected by Steven A. Kennedy

Thoughts from the past year

Best New Soundtrack CDs

Best Golden Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Silver Age Soundtrack CDs

Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Compilation CDs


The 26th Annual
Sammy Film Music Awards


The Sammy Film Music Awards



Film Music Review - Sweet 16

By Roger L. Hall


FILM MUSIC REVIEW is now in its 16th year as an online magazine and over the years has focused on mainly vintage soundtracks. As a film music historian and critic I'm grateful for the attention paid to our film music heritage. Yet, we need to continue restoring these classic film scores from the past just like the restoration of classic films.

When considering the merits of film music, a critic can only express his or her opinion based on what they hear. So this list is naturally subjective.

This was not a great year for new soundtracks so I have selected fewer of them. But there are many welcome vintage soundtracks being released. I have selected 12 new and vintage soundtracks and 4 album producers for this 16th anniversary.

Ever since 1988, I have been selecting the best film soundtracks, songs, and compilations for the Sammy Film Music Awards (or The Sammys). These awards are named after the movie lyricist, Sammy Cahn, who received 4 Oscars for his songs and was nominated more times than any other songwriter from the past. The titles listed below are in a sense some of the nominees for this year's Sammy Film Music Awards on 16 February.

My choices are based on only those I have listened to and my decision is based on the quality of overall production (art work, sound quality, rarity of the soundtrack). No claim is made to be comprehensive. There are just too many film music releases to hear them all and evaluate them.


Here now are my choices for...


Best Film Music Releases of 2013


Best New Soundtracks CDs

Music by John Williams
(Sony Classical)

Another subdued and sensitive score
similar to his WAR HORSE soundtrack and
to earlier scores like ANGELA'S ASHES and
the Oscar-winning score, SCHINDLER'S LIST.
As usual, John Williams has been able
to catch the emotional center of this film.


Philomena (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Music by Alexandre Desplat

Like John Williams, Alexandre Desplat has come to be known
for his appealing and well crafted film scores.
This is another of them from one of the best films of the year.
A delightful soundtrack.





Music by Mark McKenzie
(Varese Sarabande)

This is another marvelous soundtrack from Mark Mckenzie
who also scored the wonderful soundtrack, THE GREATEST MIRACLE.

For this soundtrack, he has composed a very beautiful and poignant main theme
plus some enjoyable bluegrass cues. It is recommended especially for those filmgoers tired of all the excessive electronics and loud soundblasts in too many of today's soundtracks. This soundtrack is a real joy to listen to and
it is a first class performance by the orchestra.




Best Golden Age Soundtracks CDs


Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
(La-La Land Records)

Dimitri Tiomkin was the most successful film composer of the 1950s and this is one of his great western film scores released in complete form for the first time.
Tiomkin was especially adept in western scores like HIGH NOON and RIO BRAVO. Similar to HIGH NOON, this film score has a memorable theme song (lyrics by Ned Washington from the original lyrics by Leon Uris and Milton Raskin), sung by the distinctive voice of Frankie Laine. That song serves as a connecting theme throughout the score. Excellent booklet notes by Frank K. DeWald.
Album Produced by Neil S. Bulk. Limited edition of 2,000 copies.




Music by Alfred Newman


One of Alfred Newman's greatest scores of the 1940s for one of the great
films of that decade. Newman is an all-time Oscar-winning champ for film music with 9 Oscars to his credit. This is a heart-warming soundtrack filled with incredible emotion and a gorgeous Main Theme and
also this release contains some unreleased material as well.
Album Produced by Bruce Kimmel and Nick Redman.
Limited edition of 1,000 copies.






Best Silver Age Soundtracks CDs

Music by Henry Mancini

Here for the first time is the complete original release
of one of the most beloved soundtracks. Of course,
"Moon River" is here (including Audrey Hepburn's lovable singing of it with guitar accompaniment), and much more from the legendary Henry Mancini.
One of his greatest film soundtracks.
Facinating booklet notes by Jeff Bond and tech talk by Douglass Fake.
Executive CD Producers: Lukas Kendall and Roger Feigelson


Music by Henry Mancini

The other of Mancini's back-to-back Oscar-winning songs. The superb "Days of Wine and Roses" song is featured prominently in various guises in the film. This soundtrack shows a darker and deeper side of Mancini's genius as he skillfully underscores the gut-wrenching, superbly acted film about alcoholism.
Helpful background notes by Jim Lochner and tech talk from Douglass Fake.
CD Produced by Lukas Kendall.



QBVII (TV special, 1974)
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
(Prometheus 2 CDs)

This is an exceptional release of perhaps Jerry Goldsmith's
greatest film score for television and he received an Emmy for it.
It is the World Premiere Recording of the Complete Score
with 90 minutes extremely well performed by
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir,
under orchestral conductor Nic Raine
and Miriam Nemcova's choral direction.
Well written booklet notes by Frank K. DeWald and James Fitzpatrick.
Another excellent Tadlow Music Production.




TRUE GRIT (1969)
Music by Elmer Bernstein
(La-La Land Records)

One of the great Elmer Bernstein western scores
finally available in its complete soundtrack,
with some welcome bonus tracks,
including one of Elmer Bernstein himself singing
the title song! A major release.
Attractive booklet with very good notes by Jeff Bond.
CD Produced by Lukas Kendall and Neil S. Bulk.



Best Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs

also includes music from

World Premiere recording of the complete film score and
full of Jerry Goldsmith's typical rhythmic vitality
from a less than memorable film, THE SALAMANDER . There are also
All three scores are well performed.
Superb reconstruction by orchestrator, Leigh Phillips.
Produced by James Fitzpatrick.




Best Compilation CDs

Great Original Movie Themes
CD One: Western Movie Themes (20 tracks)
CD Two: War Movie Themes (20 tracks)
CD Three: Epic Movie Themes (20 tracks)
(Delat Leisure Group)

There are 60 original themes from some of the best known
films from the 1930s to 1960s, and also harder-to-find ones
in a marvelous 3 CD box of movie treasures in original vintage sound,
nothing high tech here and no booklet notes, but still highly enjoyable.



PREMINGER AT FOX (5 film scores, 1945-1950)
Music by David Raksin and Cyril J. Mockridge
(Kritzerland, 2 CDs)

There are five Film Noir 20th Century Fox films directed by Otto Preminger on this
compilation, including four memorable scores by the still underrated, David Raksin: FALLEN ANGEL with the lovely song, "Slowly" (1945); LAURA, "Theme and Variations"(1944); DAISY KENYON (1947); WHIRLPOOL (1949); and one by another highly accomplished Fox film composer, Cyril J. Mockridge (WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, 1950). A fond look back to the fabulous 1940s.

Limited edition of 1,000 copies.
Album Produced by Bruce Kimmel and Nick Redman.



Best Album Producers


Douglass Fake - Intrada

James Fitzpatrick - Prometheus

Lukas Kendall and Neil S. Bulk - La-La Land Records

Bruce Kimmel and Nick Redman - Kritzerland


The Best of the 2013

By Steven A. Kennedy


Thoughts from the past year

Perhaps it is a sign of getting older, but I found 2013 to be a rather awful year for film scores.  There were a few flashes of brilliance, but nothing really seems to stand out suggesting that film music may have finally achieved its moment of lackluster wallpaper coupled with uninteresting material.  There is an overreliance on sound design and electronics that often reveals a complete lack of musical theoretical understanding in many scores.  This tends to spill over into poorly-orchestrated works as well.  Mind you, some of the scores that stood out to me this year tended to really understand how music is constructed beyond the ability of one’s software or ability to plunk a chord out.  And, it is perhaps also worth noting that it is now Europe where one continues to hear film music with greater thematic development and craft. 

One might say that we are seeing the results of a different standard of popular music performer/composers appearing in film music and that this is the result.  Is it any wonder that rock musicians should write music that grows out of that experience the way so many jazz musicians reworked film music say in the 1950s/1960s, or even the wave of European immigrants brought their styles to the Golden Age?  Herein may be one reason that so much current music perhaps is less interesting to those of us weaned on the first 100 years of film.  For my choices this year, I found it much harder to arrive at 5 new scores and to just pick 5 older scores within the categories!  Labels tended to be somewhat cautious releasing slightly expanded versions from their 1990s CD releases though there were certainly some welcome older scores that finally made their appearance on CD.



Best New Soundtracks CDs

There were some truly great horror scores though this year that may not be the easiest things to listen to but which certainly demonstrate some amazing compositional ability.   Listed in alphabetical order:

Emperor (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

EMPEROR– Alex Heffes (Lakshore Records)


EVIL DEAD - Roque Banos (La-La Land Records)

MAMA – Fernando Velazquez (Quartet Records)


THE PARADISE– Maurizio Malagnini (Silva America)




Best Golden Age Soundtracks CDs

As we get further away from the Golden Age, it seems as if these great scores continue to languish.  The easing of licensing appears to have made the 1990s the place to mine this time.  One great 1960 score (so almost a Silver Age release) stood out and it may be cheating to put it here.  Kritzerland had many interesting score releases this year but very few are available for review and tend to sell out with limited press runs.

THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG (1960) – George Duning (Kritzerland)




Best Silver Age Soundtracks CDs

If you were a Henry Mancini fan, this was a very good year.  We finally had a chance to hear just how great a score BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S is on its own after only being able to appreciate how it works in the film.  Jerry Fielding’s classic THE WILD BUNCH also received an expanded release as one of FSM’s final sets.

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (1961) - Henry Mancini (Intrada)

TRUE GRIT (1969) - Elmer Bernstein (La-La Land Records)

THE WHITE DAWN (1974) - Henry Mancini (Intrada)

THE WILD BUNCH (1969) - Jerry Fielding (Film Score Monthly, 3 CDs)  

Best Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs


There were a number of interesting scores from the 1980s and 1990s that received some interesting presentations.  Howard’s great Western score is perhaps the surprise highlight of the year.  While there are many John Williams scores that fans keep hoping for, ROSEWOOD was a bit of a surprise hearkening back to some of the composer’s work in the 1960s.  Ralph Bakshi’s unusual FIRE AND ICE has a rather interesting score that BSX released this year.  William Kraft’s work is rare on disc though the label has resurrected some of his music.  It is certainly a fine primeval epic score.  A few Goldsmith scores made a return to disc, often reissues of out-of-print editions.  THE SALAMANDER is a rather unique early 1980s score that might be more for completists than the average listener.  And Coppola’s music for THE OUTSIDERS finally received a full release from Silva.

FIRE AND ICE (1983) - William Kraft (BSX Records)

The Outsiders (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

THE OUTSIDERS (1983) - Carmine Coppola (Silva Screen Records)

ROSEWOOD (1997) - John Williams (La-La Land, 2 CDs)


THE SALAMANDER (1981) - Jerry Goldsmith (Prometheus)


WYATT EARP ( 1994) - James Newton Howard (La-La Land, 2 CDs)

Best Compilation CDs

Orchestral compilations, often sparse these days all around, did manage to have a few surprises.  The Cincinnati Pops released a new film music compilation with their new director which shows great promise for the future of the orchestra.  Once again, the Royal Philharmonic provided a fabulous and unique compilation disc with a rare suite of music from REAR WINDOW and CHINATOWN.  It is reminiscent of the great Charles Gerhardt film albums and even includes a few suites from those classic sessions.

The Golden Age of Hollywood Vol. 4 - RPO Records


Superheroes - Fanfare Cincinnati









Previous Best Film Music Releases


15th Annual Survey - 2012

14th Annual Survey - 2011

13th Annual Survey - 2010

12th Annual Survey - 2009

11th Annual Survey - 2008

10th Annual Survey - 2007

9th Annual Survey - 2006

8th Annual Survey - 2005


Best Film Music CDs of the Decade




100 Film Scores From The Past


Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century



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