Film Music Review
The Sammy awards









These movie music awards are named in honor of lyricist, Sammy Cahn, 1913-1993.

The Sammys are announced each year for the best (and sometimes also the worst ) film music.

They are chosen by Roger Hall, a film music historian, author of A Guide to Film Music, and editor of Film Music Review.


19th Annual Sammy Awards


Sunday, 11 February 2007 [Updated:16 February]

To support the goals of this American Music Preservation website, there are two new categories among this year's Sammys: Best Vintage Score and Special Preservation Award.

The Oscars and Golden Globes are often given to the song or score with the most "buzz."

The Sammys have no connection to any other awards and are based on the quality of the film music -- soundtrack, song or compilation. How the music is used in the film is also evaluated but is just one of the elements in the final decision. 

Now in their 19th year, the Sammy Awards are the longest-running awards chosen exclusively for film music.      

These awards were named in honor of Sammy Cahn, who was Oscar nominated more than any other songwriter – 26 times in all between 1942 and 1973. 

The first Sammy Awards were chosen for best score and song of 1988 – the year of Sammy Cahn’s 75th birthday.  When he was notified, Sammy said he was “flattered and honored" to have them named after him.

He certainly deserved the honor. Sammy won 4 Oscars for these songs:

  • "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954) from THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN -
    music by Jule Styne
  • "All the Way" from THE JOKER IS WILD (1957) - music by James Van Heusen
  • "High Hopes" from A HOLE IN THE HEAD (1959) - music by James Van Heusen
  • "Call Me Irresponsible" from PAPA'S DELICATE CONDITION (1963) -
    music by James Van Heusen

All four songs were recorded by Frank Sinatra, who was a big admirer of Sammy's lyrics.

Current Sammy Award Categories:


Remarks by Roger Hall, Director, The Sammy Awards...

I chose James Newton Howard as Top Composer of 2006, which he deserves for his outstanding score of LADY IN THE WATER. Unfortunately it was a muddled and unsuccessful film, so the score was not chosen, but it would be my second choice. After carefully considering the 5 nominated scores, I decided to go with another composer and film instead.

Without any envelopes to open or speeches to listen to, here are

The 19th Annual Sammy Awards For 2006 

Best Original Film Score

NOTES ON A SCANDAL -- music by Philip Glass (Rounder CD)

A highly effective moody score by Philip Glass that works wonders in this dark drama featuring superb acting. An excellent score for one of the best films of the year.



Best Original Movie Song

"Our Town" from CARS -- music and lyrics by Randy Newman (Disney Pixar)

Randy Newman once again comes through with a charming song for a Pixar film. This song is a fond look back and fits the story perfectly and sung with great feeling by James Taylor, a singer who has traveled this nostalgic road.



Best Compilation

Charlie Chaplin: The Essential Film Music Collection (2 CDs, Silva Screen)

Chaplin was that rare talent who could write, act, and direct his own films. He was also a talented musician who wrote memorable melodies for his films. This collection has arrangements of Chaplin's music by Carl Davis, who also has composed his own music for Chaplin's silent films. A joy to hear from beginning to end.


Best Vintage Score

TRUE GRIT -- music by Elmer Bernstein (Tadlow Music)

The best restoration of the year for this terrific, underrated Elmer Bernstein score. The CD also includes tracks from 5 other John Wayne western films. High quality production.



Special Preservation Award


Elmer Bernstein's Film Music Collection (Film Score Monthly)

12 CD Box Set with music by Max Steiner, Elmer Bernstein, Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, Miklos Rozsa, Alfred Newman, Alex North, Dimitri Tiomkin, and an illustrated 135 page book.

This limited edition is a monumental release and one of the best produced CD sets of film scores from the past. It is essential for any serious vintage film music fan. An honorable tribute to the work of late composer Elmer Bernstein.

Lifetime Achievement Award for Past Film Composers or Songwriters

Since 1988 there have been 14 film composers and 4 songwriters named for this Lifetime Achievement Award, given to those who have made significant contributions to film music.

The composers and arrangers are (in the order of their listing):

Bernard Herrmann, Henry Mancini, Alfred Newman, Max Steiner, Miklos Rozsa, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Victor Young, Hugo Friedhofer, Johnny Green, Bronislau Kaper, Alex North, and Elmer Bernstein.

The songwriters and lyricists are:

Sammy Cahn, Johnny Mercer, James Van Heusen, and Harry Warren

This year for the first time, a movie songwriting team is added to the list...and their names are

Jay Livingston, 28 March 1915 - 17 October 2001


+Ray Evans, 4 February 1915 - 15 February 2007


+= Sad to report that Ray Evans has died. To read the obituary
by Jon Burlingame, click here.






Songwriters Jay Livingston (left) and
Ray Evans (right)


Years ago I was very pleased to meet Jay Livingston at an old-time radio show with his wife, Shirley Mitchell. Before that I had sent him a letter and he sent back a cordial reply with an autograph. His letter to me is included in this reference book on page 80:

A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC - Songs and Scores

At our meeting, he was kind enough to autograph a copy of one of my favorite movie songs, Mona Lisa. I told him I had played that song many times on my Oscar music tributes on radio. He told me he appreciated it because he depended on song royalties for his income. He also said his own personal favorite movie song was Never Let Me Go from THE SCARLET HOUR (1956), which had been performed by many jazz musicians over the years.

Jay Harold Livingston was born in McDonald, Pennsylvania. He worked as a musician in clubs while he was still in high school. After he attended the University of Pennsylvania, he formed a dance band, where he met his future collaborator, lyricist Ray Evans, who was born in Salamanca, NY.

Jay's brother is Alan W. Livingston, who was at Capitol Records and created the famous "Bozo the Clown" series for children, including the Hopalong Cassidy record readers. Alan Livingston later signed Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and other well known singers to the Capitol label.

Now returning to the Livingston-Evans songwriting team, they moved on to Hollywood where they wrote many movie songs and eventually received three Oscars:

  • "Buttons and Bows" from THE PALEFACE (1948) -- sung in the film by Bob Hope
  • "Mona Lisa" from CAPTAIN CAREY USA (1950)
    -- multri-million selling record by Nat King Cole (not used in the film)
  • "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" from THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956) -- sung in the film by Doris Day

They were also Oscar nominated for such later songs as "Tammy" from TAMMY AND THE BACHELOR (1957) and "Dear Heart" (music by Henry Mancini, 1964).

Their biggest movie hit was "Mona Lisa" and technically it should not have been eligible for the Best Song Oscar of 1950. In the Alan Ladd film, CAPTAIN CAREY USA, the song is sung in Italian several times but never in English. Yet the song received the Oscar probably due to the classic recording made by the silky-smooth voice of Nat King Cole. This was the first song to win an Oscar from a drama. All previous Oscar-winning songs had been from musicals, beginning in 1934.

The Livingston-Evans songwriting team also wrote a favorite Christmas song, "Silver Bells," first featured in the Bob Hope film comedy, THE LEMON DROP KID (1951), but made famous in a record made by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards. This Christmas song has sold over 160 million records.

To hear their best known movie songs and lesser known songs too, and Jay Livingston himself performing with the stylish singer Michael Feinstein, click on the link for this wonderful CD:



Livingston and Evans Songbook
featuring Michael Feinstein



An excellent description of Livingston's songwriting career may be found at this link:



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The Sammy Film Music Awards


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