Film Music Review
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FILM MUSIC REVIEW

Now in the 15th year as an online magazine
covering film scores and movie songs

 

Founder and Managing Editor:

Roger L. Hall



Contributing Writers:

Steven A. Kennedy

Steve Vertlieb

 

 

All three writers are members of the...

 

IFMCA: the International Film Music Critics Association

The International Film Music Critics Association
Best Film Music of 2013

 

 

"As a regular (though silent) reader of your e-zine, I just wanted to express my appreciation for your ongoing effort in reviewing titles. Among the review sites Film Music Review has something of a unique voice -- particularly in its attention to Golden Age classics."
--Michael McLennan

 

 


Feature Presentations

Film Music Review - Introduction

Film Music Century

The Role of the Reviewer

Film Composer Tributes

Film Music Review Anniversary Specials

Film Music Guide

Film Music Review Interviews

Film Music Review Volumes 1-15 and Indexes

100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century

The Sammy Film Music Awards

Film In Focus

Best Film Music Releases of the Year

National Carry A Tune Week

Book and DVD Reviews

Favorite Film Scores and Movie Songs

End Credits and Links

 

 

 

The awards for 2013 have been announced!

Go to

26th Annual Sammy Awards

 


 

 


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Film Music Review

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Introduction

 

For sixteen years, Film Music Review (FMR) has provided hundreds of reviews of CDs, DVDs, and Books.

It is now one of the longest-running online e-zines devoted exclusively to film music (scores and songs).

Film Music Review was begun by Roger Hall, a film historian, composer, writer, and member of the International Film Music Critics Association. He has been the FMR managing editor since the beginning. Others who have assisted as Contributing Writers are: Steven A. Kennedy and Steve Vertlieb. Occasional guest writers have also contributed reviews or articles, such as Jeffrey Dane.

FMR began in 1998 on AOL and lasted until 2005. Most of the reviews from those years have been archived and are now available as files on a multi-media DVD titled,

A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC (5th edition)

FMR has been online here since 2006 and all the reviews are still available
(see the FMR links below).

Over the years, FMR has been a respected resource for film music reviews and other news.

The focus of FMR now is on the preservation of film scores from the past,
devoted mainly to older soundtrack reisuues, re-recordings and other preservation efforts. Some new film scores are also occasionally reviewed.

The Sammy Film Music Awards are chosen each year for best film soundtracks, songs and other categories, including occasionally also the worst of the year. These awards (also called the "Sammys") are named after the late great movie lyricist Sammy Cahn. These awards are now the longest-running awards chosen exclusively for film music recordings.

 

 

Congratulations to our FMR critics!

Steven A. Kennedy, Steve Vertlieb and Roger Hall
are all listed in this massive
and very useful reference book:

 

Film and Television Music: A Guide to Books, Articles, and Composer Interviews

FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC -
A Guide To Books, Articles, and Composer Interviews
Compiled and Edited by Warren M. Sherk

 

 

 

See the scores and songs selected at the

Film Music Web Poll

 

 

 

 

 


Film Music Century

 

Music for the cinema was one of the most significant developments in popular entertainment during the 20th century.


It remains important in the 21st century as well, though many of the newer soundtracks lack the depth and quality of the older film scores and songs.

There are still film fans and critics who don't understand the importance of music in a film. Music can be a major factor in the success of a film.

Just think of Max Steiner's monumental score for KING KONG or GONE WITH THE WIND, Miklos Rozsa's haunting score in SPELLBOUND and majestic themes in BEN-HUR, Dimitri Tiomkin's memorable song and score in HIGH NOON, Bernard Herrmann's frightening music in PSYCHO, the John Barry music for the James Bond films, or the thrilling scores of John Williams for the STAR WARS series. All of these scores contributed greatly to the success of those films. Many more could be listed.

Excluding the silent era when little original soundtrack music was recorded,
the music in sound films can be divided roughly into the three eras
during the 20th century:

I. Golden Age (Studio System)



1929 (BROADWAY MELODY)
to
1959 (BEN
HUR)



II. Silver Age (Music Innovators)


1960 (SPARTACUS)
to
1979 (STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE)

III. Bronze Age (Big Blockbusters)


1980 (STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK)
to
1999 (TOY STORY 2)

And what about the first decade of the 21st century?

Due to the lack of quality film music, with some major exceptions of course, it might best be called the "Lead Age" -- heavy with headache-inducing loud and unmemorable themes. Will it improve anytime soon? Hopefully yes, but who can tell?

The Role of the Reviewer

 

Over the years, I've read many comments in various newsgroups and message boards about soundtracks and movie musicals -- some have been fair and reasonable assessments, others are just personal ranting and raving.  On these message boards, reviewers and critics are often criticized and attacked for their opinions.

This has been a trend that bothers me as a film music critic, since we are sometimes dismissed as morons, especially if someone disagrees with us.  The fact is that most reviewers offer their personal opinions of a CD soundtrack or compilation. You can agree or disagree with them, but it's not fair to dismiss them as no-nothings.    

What then is the role of the film music critic?  I'll give my opinion here...

As I see it, a reviewer writes a critical evaluation of a CD after carefully listening to it and relating it (if possible) to the film itself.  

Oftentimes the CD soundtrack is released before the film itself opens in movie theaters.  That makes assessment with how the music is used in a film very difficult.     

Here are three questions I consider when reviewing a CD soundtrack or compilation:

(1)   How does the music sound away from the film?

(2)   What is the film composer's score intended to accomplish?

(3)   Where are the strengths and weaknesses on the soundtrack CD album (the music, sound quality, notes, album design)?

It's not possible to consider each of these questions all the time.  For example, years ago I reviewed Christopher Gordon's superb score without having seen the television film, ON THE BEACH. It was unavailable at that time.  But I still evaluated the soundtrack based on what I heard and thought so highly of it that I named it Best Overlooked Score for the year 2000.  

I think it's okay to judge a score away from the film because often the soundtrack is meant to stand on its own anyway.  That is why the track ordering is often different from the film, which drives some soundtrack collectors crazy.  

Who made the rule that soundtracks have to follow the same sequence as the film?  Collectors seem to think they are the only ones who matter when they demand that every second of the music be made available and in the same order as in the film. That is nonsense! I believe that most soundtrtack or compilation albums are meant to be enjoyable listening experiences, not rote reproductions of the original film soundtrack.    

Is it better to go along with the crowd or have your own opinion?

A good reviewer or critic MUST express his or her own opinion based on what they hear on the soundtrack, even if it offends the collectors or the film composer.  It seems to be a general rule that if you praise a soundtrack you're great, if you don't like one that's very popular  then you're an idiot.  So praise is good, criticism is not?? I strongly disagree with that view.

If you just want to collect everything by such fan favorites as Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Hans Zimmer or (name your composer) then reviews may be of little interest for you.  Obsessive soundtrack collectors are often very close-minded.

On the other hand, if you'd like to read different opinions of a soundtrack before you decide to buy it, then reviews can be very helpful.

Film Music Review has been online for 13 years now. The objective of all reviewers on FMR have been to be as fair as possible when reviewing a soundtrack.  We don't praise something just because of the fame of the composer or the publicity hype for the film. 

Hopefully, after reading this essay, you'll have a better appreciation of what a reviewer does and if you like what they do, why not send them a message and let them know? I believe that most reviewers work long and hard without ever getting much credit for their writing.

Naturally film composers and CD producers deserve credit for their outstanding work, but so do reviewers.

So to all web site and print soundtrack reviewers, I salute you for your dedication to the film music cause!

And to all soundtrack collectors and fans, I wish you continued happy listening!


--Roger  Hall, FMR Editor

 

Read more at

Film Composers and Soundtracks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film Composer Tributes

 

Elmer Bernstein

 

Aaron Copland

 

Jerry Goldsmith

 

 

Henry Mancini

 

 

Bernard Herrmann

 


Ennio Morricone

 

Jerome Moross

 

 

David Raksin

Miklos Rozsa

 

Virgil Thomson

 


Dimitri Tiomkin

 

 

 

 

John Williams

 

 

 

Anniversary Specials

 

Film Music Review (FMR)

15th Anniversary Special

14th Anniversary Special

13th Anniversary Special

12th Anniversary Special

11th Anniversary Special

10th Anniversary Special

 

 

70th Anniversity Tribute

CITIZEN KANE

 

 

 

 

50th Anniversity Tribute

Bernard Herrmann and PSYCHO

 

 

 

50th Anniversity Tribute

Adolph Deutsch and SOME LIKE IT HOT

 

 



50th Anniversity Tribute

THE TWILIGHT ZONE Revisited

 

 

Songwriter Anniversaries

 

"High Hopes"
A Centennial Tribute to Sammy Cahn

 

 

 

 

"River Of No Return"
A Centennial Tribute to Ken Darby

 

 

 

 

"I Hear Music"
A Centennial Tribute to Frank Loesser

 

 

 

"Acent-tchu-ate The Positive"
Johnny Mercer in Hollywood

 

 

IRVING BERLIN'S
first song hit

Irving Berlin's
"Alexander's Ragtime Band"

 

 

50th anniversary of
Oscar-winning song and score

"Moon River" - Memories of Henry Mancini

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Film Music Resource

A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC
(5th edition)
by Roger L. Hall

This 5th edition is now available exclusively on DVD,
with the complete book and bonus features, including examples of film music songs and scores, an extensive image gallery, past reviews from Film Music Review and a video program with the author speaking about vintage movie songs and film scores.

Read how to get your copy

Click here

 

 

FMR Interviews

An Interview with Film Composer, John Frizzell

 

An Interview with Album Producer, James Fitzpatrick


An Interview with David Schecter

 

Edmund Stone

 


An Interview with Edmund Stone
Host of "The Score"


 


 

 

Ratings and Volumes

 

**** = Superlative (Highest Recommendation)

***1/2 = Very Good

*** = Good

**1/2 = Okay

** = Barely Passable

* = Poor

The Special Merit CDs are chosen for outstanding overall production of a soundtrack or compilation.

The Editor's Choice - Best of the Month designation is for those CDs that are singled out for their excellence. They are chosen anytime within a given month and may not be chosen every month.

 

Film Music Review

 

Volume 16, 2014

Number 1 (Winter-Spring)

 

Volume 15, 2013

Number 1 (Winter-Spring)

Number 2 (Summer-Fall)

 

Volume 14, 2012

Number 1 (Winter-Spring)

Number 2 (Summer-Fall)

Volume 13, 2011

Number 1 (Winter)

Number 2 (Spring)

Number 3 (Summer)

Number 4 (Fall)

 

Volume 12, 2010

Number 1 (Winter)

Number 2 (Spring)

Number 3 (Summer)

Number 4 (Fall)

 

Volume 11, 2009

Index to All Reviews (January - December)

Number 1 (Winter)

Number 2 (Spring)

Number 3 (Summer)

Number 4 (Fall)

 

Volume 10, 2008

Index to All Reviews (January - December)

Number 1 (Winter)

Number 2 (Spring)

Number 3 (Summer)

Number 4 (Fall)

 

Volume 9, 2007

Index to All Reviews (January - December)

Number 1 (January - February)

Number 2 (March - April)

Number 3 (May - June)

Number 4 (July - August)

Number 5 (September - October)

Number 6 (November - December)

 

Volume 8, 2006

Index to All Reviews (January - December)

Number 1 (January - February)

Number 2 (March - April

Number 3 (May - June)

Number 4 (July - August)

Number 5 (September - October)

Number 6 (November - December)




Film Music Review Index


CD, DVD and Book Reviews
(Volumes 1-14, 1998 - 2012)

 



100 Essential Film Scores

 

100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century

 

20 Essential Hollywood Musicals

 

 

The Sammy Film Music Awards

The 26th Annual Sammy Film Music Awards for 2013

Click here


The 25th Anniversary Sammy Film Music Awards for 2012

Click here


For complete listings click on this link:

The Sammy Film Music Awards

 

 

Film In Focus Series

 

A magnificent score from the greatest post war film of the past...

No. 1: THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES and
Hugo Friedhofer's Oscar-winning score

 

 

A monumental historical score from the 1950s...

No. 2: PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE and
Miklos Rozsa's film score

 

 

The first major film score of the 1930s...

No. 3: 75th anniversary of KING KONG and
Max Steiner's film score

 

 

One of the great religious epics of the 1950s...

No. 4: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and
Elmer Bernstein's film score

 

 

 

One of the greatest thriller Hitchcock films...

No. 5: VERTIGO and
Bernard Herrmann's film score


 

 

 

An underrated score by the composer best known for his Western scores...

No. 6: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and
Dimitri Tiomkin's film score

 

 

 

One of the most inspiring films of the 1940s...

No. 7: THE SONG OF BERNADETTE and
Alfred Newman's Oscar-winning film score

 

 

 

 

The lively score from one the greatest comedies from the past...

No. 8: SOME LIKE IT HOT and
Adolph Deutsch's score

 

The best known score from a Hitchcock film...

No. 9: PSYCHO and
Bernard Herrmann's film score


 

 

Generally considered the greatest Hollywood film from the past...

No. 10: CITIZEN KANE and
Bernard Herrmann's first film score

 

 

One of the greatest Hollywood westerns...

No. 11: HIGH NOON and
Dimitri Tiomkin's classic film score

 

For the 50th anniversary of...

No. 12: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and
Elmer Bernstein's favorite film score

 

 

The Best Film Music CD Releases

 

 

Philomena (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)the-ultimate-life

 

Best Film Music Releases of 2013

 

Best Film Music Releases of 2012

 

 

Best Film Music Releases of 2011

 

 



Best Film Music Releases of 2010

Best Film Music CDs of the Decade
(2000-2009)

 

 

Best Film Music CDs of 2009

 

 

Best Film Music CDs of 2008

 

 

 

Best Film Music CDs of 2007

 

 

Best Film Music CDs of 2006

 

 

Best Film Music CDs of 2005

 

 


National Carry A Tune Week

This year's event

October 5 - 11, 2014

There have been many film scores and songs chosen for this annual event:

National Carry A Tune Week (2013)

National Carry A Tune Week (2012)

National Carry A Tune Week (2011)

National Carry A Tune Week (2010)

National Carry A Tune Week (2009)

National Carry A Tune Week (2008)

National Carry A Tune Week (2007)

National Carry A Tune Week (2006)

National Carry A Tune Week (2005)

National Carry A Tune Weeks (2001-2004)




 

 

 

Film Actor Music Tributes

 

"I have been uncompromising, peppery, intractable, monomaniacal, tactless, volatile, and oftentimes disagreeable...
I suppose I'm larger than life."
-- Bette Davis

She was one of the most admired Hollywood actresses from the past,
known for her distinctive acting, her demanding work ethic,
and those beautiful Bette Davis Eyes.

She was also fortunate to have some of the
best composers working in Hollywood for her films.

Read her biography and reviews of recommended soundtracks
from her classic films at

"They're Either Too Young or Too Old"-
A Centennial Birthday Tribute to Bette Davis

 

“Well, I think one of the main things that you have to think about when acting in the movies is to try not to make the acting show.”
-- James Stewart

As with Bette Davis, James "Jimmy" Stewart was fortunate to have some of the best composers working in Hollywood for his films.
And like Ms. Davis, he also sang occasionally in his films.

Read all about it at this link:

"Easy to Love" -
A Centennial Birthday Tribute to James Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews

 

 

Hitchcock's Music by Jack Sullivan

 

 

THE MUSIC OF JAMES BOND by Jon Burlingame

 

 

THE SONGS OF HOLLYWOOD
by Philip Furia and Laurie Patterson

 

 

The Soundtracks of Woody Allen:
A Complete Guide to the Songs and Music in Every Film, 1969-2005
by Adam Harvey

 

 

Recommended Film Music Books

 

Here are several recommended books on film music for useful for teaching purposes or reading enjoyment...

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Film Music(Paperback)
by George Burt

Comments: A very good textbook for aspiring film composers yet also worthwhile reading for any film music lover. Special emphasis on four film composers: Friedhofer, North, Raksin, Rosenman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film Music: A Neglected Art --
A Critical Study of Music in Films (Paperback)
by
Roy M. Prendergast

Comment: A more technical study and
very informative.

 

 

 

 

A HISTORY OF FILM MUSIC
by Mervyn Cooke

Comment: This is the best survey of film music yet written.

 

The Invisible Art of Film Music (Paperback)
by Laurence E. MacDonald

Comments: An excellent non-technical survey from the 1920s to 1990s. Many illustrations and easy to read format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing The Score: Film Composers Talk About the Art, Craft, Blood, Sweat, and Tears of Writing for Cinema (Paperback)
by David Morgan

Comment: Fascinating interviews with film composers who offer insights into film scoring and collaborating with film directors.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Recommended DVDs
with film composer interviews

 

 

 

 

 

THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW
(Guest: composer Dimitri Tiomkin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS & THE RIVER
music by Virgil Thomson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End Credits and Links

 

Film Music Review

is

owned and operated

by

PineTree Productions

 



For additional information, see these recommended

Film Music Links

 

See the film composers and songwriters
who have been named to

The Tunemaker Hall of Fame


Click on this link for

Five Famous Films from 1956

 

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