Film Music Review
The Sammy awards









Our 18th year

providing reviews and resources


Film Scores and Movie Songs






Founder and Managing Editor:

Roger L. Hall

Contributing Writers:

Jeffrey Dane

Steven A. Kennedy

Steve Vertlieb

For comments or questions -- click here


All three FMR writers are members of the...


IFMCA: the International Film Music Critics Association


Feature Presentations

Latest FMR News

Film Music Publications

Film Music Review Editorials

Film Music in the 20th Century

Film Composer Tributes

Film Music Review Interviews

Essential Film Scores and Hollywood Musicals

Favorite Film Music Poll

CD Reviews

100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century

"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








Latest News:




Music For Halloween:
A Devilish Dozen



Get your copy of this special radio broadcast:

The Devil & Daniel Webster (The Criterion Collection)

Hollywood Halloween



18th Anniversary Special










Bernard Herrmann in 1941 - Two film score classics








5 Films From 1956 (60th anniversary)






Ten Great American Western Film Scores




Best of the Month (March 2016)

Two CD releases from Tadlow Music


Three CDs with music by Gerald Fried



An Oscar for Ennio!

[above picture from Facebook]

Congratulations to Ennio Morricone on receiving an Academy Award (Oscar), BAFTA, Golden Globe, and LAFCA Awards
for his score to THE HATEFUL EIGHT. I don't believe that score was his best work.
Back in the 1960s there were his scores for THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.
Here are some of his best film scores and themes from the 1980s - his best decade for film scores:

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984 - my favorites: Main Theme and Deborah's Theme)
THE MISSION (1986 - my favorites: Gabriel's Oboe and On Earth As It Is In Heaven)
THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987 - my favorite: Main Theme)
CINEMA PARADISO (1989 - my favorite: Love Theme)

With his beautiful film themes he is the Puccini of Italian film music
and fully deserves to be finally honored for his many memorable scores over 50 years.

Read reviews of Morriocne's lesser known film music at these links:



-- Roger Hall, Managing Editor


Highly recommended DVD:

Morricone Conducts Morricone

Morricone Conducts Morricone (EuroArts DVD)



The 28th Annual Sammy Film Music Awards(SFMA)

To read the complete list of the SFMA -- click here



IFMCA: the International Film Music Critics Association


Click here









Two publications available exclusively on computer DVDs...


DVD: "As Time Goes By" - A Guide to Film Music
(6th edition with past reviews and tributes from FILM MUSIC REVIEW)





DVD: Music Masters: Fifteen film Composers (reviews and tributes from Film Music Review)





From The Editor


To read all the editorials - Click here

Why is film music from the past getting neglected?




Picnic: Music From The Soundtrack Of The Columbia Picture

1955 - A year of noteworthy film scores






The summer blockbuster is born with the sounds of JAWS



Memorial Tributes

"All The Way" - A Tribute to Frank Sinatra in Hollywood


A Ray Bradbury Remembrance
by Steve Vertlieb and Roger Hall



CD tribute - In Memory of James Horner






















An Introduction


For sixteen years, Film Music Review (FMR) has provided hundreds of reviews of CDs, DVDs, and Books. Though the emphasis has been on film scores there are also reviews of movie songs.

FMR 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,


FMR has been online here since 2006. The reviews from 1999 to 2014 are now available on the A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC.

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

A Guide To Books, Articles, and Composer Interviews
Compiled and Edited by Warren M. Sherk






Favorite Film Music Poll






Film Music in the 20th 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 scores 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, and film musicals too which have a different set of criteria, the music in sound films can be divided roughly into the three eras and fortunately they have been well represented with recordings over the years:

I. Golden Age (Studio System)

1933 (KING KONG)
1959 (BEN

II. Silver Age (Music Innovators)


III. Bronze Age (Blockbuster Scores)

1975 (JAWS)
1999 (TOY STORY 2)

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 of 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 will 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 18 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 L. Hall, FMR Managing Editor, 8 July 2016












Film Composer Tributes


Elmer Bernstein




Jerry Goldsmith



Bernard Herrmann



Henry Mancini


David Raksin



Miklos Rozsa




Dimitri Tiomkin



A Centenary Celebration

Franz Waxman




John Williams






50th Anniversity Tribute

Bernard Herrmann and PSYCHO


50th Anniversity Tribute

Elmer Bernstein and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD



60th Anniversity Tribute

Dimitri Tiomkin and HIGH NOON



50th Anniversity Tribute




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



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

(6th edition)
by Roger L. Hall

The revised and updated 6th 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 on Film Music Review (1999-2014), and a video program with the author speaking about vintage movie songs and film scores.

Read how to get your copy

Click here




Film Composer and Album Producer Interviews


An Interview with Film Composer, John Frizzell


An Interview with Album Producer, James Fitzpatrick

An Interview with David Schecter




An Interview with David L. Fuller






CD Reviews


**** = Superlative (Highest Recommendation)

***1/2 = Very Good (Recommended)

*** = Good

**1/2 = Just Okay

** = Barely Passable

* = Poor

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





Latest Reviews

Retrophonic Gershwin

Other reviews:




  Special Merit 


Jazz Noir - Various artists













  Special Merit 

In Praise of OBSESSION (two CD releases)





  Special Merit 


Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey - The Essential Collection


Downton Abbey soundtrack CDs, music by John Lunn



Past CD, DVD and Book Reviews

Complete list















































Essential Film Scores and Musicals


100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century


20 Essential Hollywood Musicals



For complete listings click on this link:

The Sammy Film Music Awards




Film In Focus



A series of articles about signifcant music scores
from the great films of the past (1930s-1960s)
now available

Click here





The Best Film Music CD Releases


17th Annual Best Film Music Releases for 2014



16th Annual Best Film Music Releases for 2013


15th Annual Best Film Music Releases for 2012



14th Annual Best Film Music Releases for 2011



13th Annual Best Film Music Releases for 2010




12th Annual Best Film Music CDs for 2009


Best Film Music CDs of the Decade




11th Annual Best Film Music CDs for 2008




10th Annual Best Film Music CDs for 2007




Recommended DVD

The Great American Songbook
Hosted by Michael Feinstein










Film Actor and Actress 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







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)
Roy M. Prendergast

Comment: A technical study but
very informative.





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






(Guest: composer Dimitri Tiomkin)








music by Virgil Thomson
including an interview about his film music by Roger Hall








End Credits and Links


Film Music Review


owned and operated


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








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