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 film music released on CDs, and
are chosen by Roger Hall, a respected film music historian who is also a
member of the International Film Music Critics Association,
author of the book, A Guide to Film Music, and editor of Film Music Review.


The Sammy Awards have been mentioned at these web sites:

Brad Lang's Classic Movies (Salute to the Oscars)

Elmer Bernstein - The Official Site

Film Score Monthly


John Williams Fan Network

If you have a web site and list these awards or would like to exchanges links,
write to:

The Sammy Awards



The Sammy Awards

Selected by Roger Hall

8 February 2009

The Sammys have no connection to the Oscars, Golden Globes, or any other awards and are based on the quality of the CD soundtracks and collections.  

Now in their 21st year, the Sammys are the longest-running awards chosen exclusively for film music on CDs. Special certificiates are sent to each recipient of the Sammys.     

I named these awards 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 notified, Sammy said he was “flattered and honored" to have the awards named after him.

He certainly deserved the honor. Sammy received four Oscars for co-writing 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 Categories for 21st Sammy Awards :

The awards are based on CDs released or reviewed between January 2008 and January 2009. Special ceritificates are sent to the award recipients.

For the first time ever during the entire run of the Sammys,
there is no Best New Film Song award. None of the them were felt worthy of being singled out.

Like last year, the focus is on soundtrack preservations,
with six of the categories devoted to film music from the past.

To read the review for each award, just click on the link.

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


21st Annual Sammy Awards For 2008 



Best New Film Score


music by Alexandre Desplat
(Concord CD)





Best Overlooked New Film Score


music by Christopher Young
(BSX Records CD)





Best Golden Age Film Score
(1930s - 1950s)


HIGH NOON (1952)
music by Dimitri Tiomkin
(Screen Archives Entertainment)



Best Silver Age Film Score
(1960s - 1970s)



EL CID (1961)
music by Miklos Rozsa
(Tadlow 3 CD Box Set)





Best Bronze Age Film Score
(1980s - 1990s)

music by Leonard Rosenman
(Intrada CD)




Best Vintage Collection



THE INTRUDER (1961) and other music by Herman Stein
(Monstrous Movie Music CD)




Best Newly Recorded Vintage Film Scores



music by Bernard Herrmann
(Tribute Film Classics CD)




Preservation Award: Best Album Producer



For his stellar work in producing such superb CD re-recordings as: TRUE GRIT, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, and EL CID, plus being producer and one of the conductors for many excellent compilations for Silva Screen, this year's Preservation Award goes to...

James Fitzpatrick at Tadlow Music




Lifetime Achievement Award

By Roger Hall

Since 1988, there have been 15 past film composers and 6 songwriters named for this Lifetime Achievement Award, for 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, Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith.

The songwriters and lyricists are:

Sammy Cahn, Johnny Mercer, James Van Heusen, Harry Warren, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.


This year I select a multi-talented songwriter, arranger, vocal supervisor, and conductor who worked at many movie studios, especially 20th Century Fox.

This year marks the centennial of his birth.

His name is...


Ken Darby

Born:  13 May 1909, Hebron, Nebraska

Died: 24 January 1992, Sherman Oaks, California


His movie career spans four decades, from the early 1930s to the late 1960s,
beginning as a singer with The King's Men and ending as an associate to
Alfred Newman in the 20th Century Fox Music Department.

As a member of The King's Men, Darby with his three singing companions,
were the first singing quartet to appear in a Hopalong Cassidy western,
THE RENEGADE TRAIL (1939), starring William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy,
co-starring Russell Hayden as Lucky and George (Gabby) Hayes as Windy.
The King's Men performed two songs in this western film: "Lazy Rolls the Rio Grande" and "Hi Thar, Stranger!" (both sung with singing cowboy, Eddie Dean).

This publicity photo shows The King's Men one year earlier,
and without their western duds,
pictured clockwise from left to right are:

Jon Dobson, Ken Darby, Rad Robinson, and Bud Linn


The King's Men were also used on radio shows for Rudy Vallee, Fred Allen and Fibber McGee and Molly. They were also used in such film musicals as ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND and the classic Disney animation feature, PINNOCHIO. During the 1940s, Darby did arranging for Walt Disney on such features as MAKE MINE MUSIC, FUN AND FANCY FREE, and SONG OF THE SOUTH. His arrangement of "Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah," sung by the wonderful James Baskett, help bring the Allie Wrubel-Ray Gilbert song an Oscar in 1947.

During the 1940s, he also formed The Ken Darby Singers, who sang on radio and also made records, including with Bing Crosby on the classic "White Christmas." Later, Darby was invited by Alfred Newman to join the music department at 20th Century-Fox. During the 1950s he wrote a number of songs, including: "New York! New York! for HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953); "Down in the Meadow, "One Silver Dollar" and the title song for RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954); and "Paper of Pins" for BUS STOP (1956). It was in that same year of 1956 that he got to work with a young singing sensation.

In an excellent twenty-two page article in Films in Review (June-July 1969), Page Cook quotes Darby 's comments about singers and singing.

As his vocal coach, Darby said that Elvis Presley "learns it [the song] by listening -- then puts it in his own character and style. He has an innate sensibility which guides him to the fullest meaning of words he is given to sing."

The four songs used in LOVE ME TENDER were credited to Elvis Presley and Vera Matson as co-writers, but all them were actually written by Ken Darby, including the million-selling title song.

This is what Darby said about proper singing technique:

"Damn the singer who chews, swallows, garbles, howls or otherwise destroy words where words are written and needed. You can hum to a baby or to a lover, but the essential quality of a song, whether by one voice or 2000, is to bring to the ears of the listener the composer/lyricist's message. The human voice can be a powerful means of transferring the composer's intent. Chorus and orchestra can be so wedded in films that the listener receives a new, often thrilling, emotional stimulus."

And Darby put that statement into practice in numerous films, and received three Oscars for his work as musical associate/vocal supervisor on these musicals:

THE KING AND I (1956) -- with Alfred Newman
PORGY & BESS (1959) -- with Andre Previn
CAMELOT (1967) -- with Alfred Newman

Among the many film scores he worked on as musicial associate, these are just a few, with some of his remarks made to Page Cook:


"Alfred Newman worked out a modal melody, the harmony development, and the instrumentation, and I arranged this for voices, and he developed our notes into a chorale" [a setting for the 23rd Psalm].

David and Bathsheba [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]


THE ROBE (1953)
"Alfred persuaded them to allow him to discard their directional microphones over the orchestra and to place non-directional mikes. The experts were dumbfounded and admitted Newman was right...THE ROBE is one of Newman's greatest and is studied in more than one university."

The Robe (1953 Film)

THE ROBE soundtrack

"I conducted the chorus by chasing the music which came to me through
a headphone."

The Egyptian

THE EGYPTIAN soundtrack

"The scoring of this film was one of the pleasantest encounters Alfred
and I have had together."

How The West Was Won: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


"Alfred put it succinctly: 'It's my name and it isn't my score. I'd be pleased if my name were removed from the credits."

[Parts of Newman's score, especially his excellent Hallelujah passages, were not used in the film at the insistence of the tyrant director,
George Stevens].

The Greatest Story Ever Told (Score)



Hear Ken Darby's work on these Oscar-winning soundtracks:


The King and I (1956 Film Soundtrack)





Porgy and Bess: Original Sound Track Album

PORGY AND BESS (1959 -- Columbia LP soundtrack




Camelot: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1967 Film)

CAMELOT (1967)


Click on this link for the

Centennial Tribute to Ken Darby


Are you a fan of classic films?

If you enjoy music from older films, this DVD is highly recommended.

It is hosted with great candor by John Mauceri and includes music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, David Raksin, Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Franz Waxman.

Click on this link to order:

Music for the Movies: The Hollywood Sound

Music from Hollywood

Also recommended is this CD from a 1963 television program, with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and music conducted by these film composers: Alfred Newman, David Raksin, Alex North, Franz Waxman, Johnny Green, Bernard Herrmann, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Miklos Rozsa.

Click on this link:

Music From Hollywood

Read the previous choices at this link:

The Sammy Awards List


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