Film Music Review










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

Now in their 22nd 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.   


The Sammys are chosen by Roger Hall, a respected film music historian who is a member of the International Film Music Critics Association,
author of the book, A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC ,
and Managing Editor of Film Music Review.


This year's Sammy Awards announcement at

Cinema Retro



The Sammys have been mentioned in past years at these sites:

Elmer Bernstein - The Official Site

Film Score Monthly



John Williams Fan Network



If you have a film music web site and would like to exchanges links,
or ask a question, write to:

The Sammy Awards



Say Oscar, Meet Sammy!

21 February 2010

You've heard of the Oscars or the Academy Awards but have you heard of the Sammys or Sammy Awards?

The Sammys have no connection to the Oscars or any other awards and are given in only one category -- film music.

They are based on the quality of film scores and songs on CDs.  

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 these 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.

Now two weeks before the Oscars, let's see who gets this years Sammys!

Roger Hall, The Sammy Awards

Music Books

Many of Sammy's popular movie songs are included in this collection

New Sammy Cahn Songbook

Also available is a multi-media publication on DVD with audio clips from Oscar music tributes on radio and also announcements of the Sammy Awards between 1989 and 1995. These audio clips ("Film Music and The Sammy Awards") are included at no extra charge as part of the 4th edition of:


The author of this guide, Roger Hall,
is available to speak to your group
about memorable movie music from the past.

Read more at:

Lectures and Workshops

Categories for 22nd Sammy Awards as selected by Roger Hall:

The awards are based on CDs released or reviewed in 2009.

Once again this year, there is no award for Best New Film Song since I didn't think any song was worth special praise. For the past decade or so, film songs have been mostly forgettable, with the exception of Randy Newman's songs and a few others.

Instead, the focus of the Sammys is on vintage soundtracks, with most of the categories devoted to outstanding film music from the past.

To read the review for each title, just click on the link. Without any envelopes to open or long speeches to listen to, and as Sammy Cahn would say with words from one of his Oscar-winning songs, here are the



22nd Annual Sammy Awards For 2009





Best New Film Score


music by Michael Giacchino (Disney Pixar)
(available as an MP3 download only)

Best track: "Married Life"

A delightful score from this warm and wonderful Pixar classic

And Honorable Mention to...

music by Alexandre Desplat (Summit Entertainment/E1 Music)

Best track: "Full Moon"

A lushly scored romantic score with lots of "bite" to it!



Best Overlooked New Film Score


music by Austin Wintory (BSX Records)

Best track: "In The Fog" (End Titles)

An exceptional score by a promising young film composer
for an excellent film


Most Overrated New Film Score
[New Category]



music by James Horner ( Fox Music/Atlantic)

An assortment of past Hornerisms (tin whistle,
humming voices and the rest)
with nothing very memorable



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


music by Max Steiner (Tribute Film Classics)

An incredible achievement in film music restoration and re-recording


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

music by Miklos Rozsa (Film Score Monthly)

One of Rozsa's last great film scores and beautifully produced



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


music by Jerry Goldsmith (Film Score Monthly)

Goldsmith at his best in a wonderful fantasy score



Best Vintage Compilation


(3 CD Box Set, Film Score Monthly)

Mandel's gifts as a talented composer and arranger
are amply displayed in this beautiful box set



Best Newly Recorded Vintage Film Score

EXODUS -- music by Ernest Gold
also other film scores (2 CDs, Tadlow)

A major accomplishment in restoring Gold's Oscar-winning score
to its full brilliance


Special Preservation Award:
Best Album Producers

Anna Bonn, William Stromberg, John Morgan

This dedicated team from Tribute Film Classics are recognized for
these superb high quality CD releases:

FAHRENHEIT 451 and WALKING DISTANCE (Bernard Herrmann)

MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (Bernard Herrmann)

SHE (Max Steiner)



THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (Erich Wolgang Korngold)



Lifetime Achievement Award


Since 1988, there have been 16 past film composers and 6 songwriters named for this Lifetime Achievement Award, 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, Jerry Goldsmith, and Ken Darby.

The songwriters and lyricists are (in order of their listing):

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

This year is something different with a man who was not primarily a film composer but who contributed greatly to film scoring and had considerable influence on film composers.

He has been called the "Dean of American Composers" and his name is known to millions of classical music listeners:



Aaron Copland

Born:  14 November 1900, Brooklyn, New York

Died: 2 December 1990, North Tarrytown, New York

Though he composed only nine film scores, including several for the 1939 New York World's Fair, he made a significant contribution with his memorable melodies and distinctive themes which were well matched to their film dramas. Probably his best known score and a favorite of Copland himself was OUR TOWN.

These are the films he scored:

THE CITY (1939) -- documentary for New York World's Fair
FROM SORCERY TO SCIENCE (1939) -- puppet show at New York World's Fair
OF MICE AND MEN (1939) -- 2 Oscar nominations (Score and Original Score)
OUR TOWN (1940) -- 2 Oscar nominations (Score and Original Score)
THE NORTH STAR (1943) -- Oscar nominee for Dramatic Picture
THE HEIRESS (1949) -- Oscar winner for Scoring of a Dramatic Picture

Five Oscar nominations and one Oscar for Best Score. Quite an impressive achievement for only nine film scores!

Strangely, what some believe to be Copland's best film score was for THE RED PONY yet it wasn't even nominated, though the Suite from that film has remained a concert favorite.

His Oscar-winning score for THE HEIRESS is not extensive. As Copland himself wrote to the film's director, William Wyler:

"In my opinion, the picture does not call for a great deal of music, but what it includes, ought to really count...a music of a certain discretion and refinement in the expression of sentiments."
-- from Copland Since 1943, p. 98

Copland's score is brilliantly put together, even though part of his score was omitted during the Main Titles in favor of the tune, "Plaisir d'Amour," by Martini. Yet, enough of Copland's score remains to set the stage and express "a certain refinement and discretion." It very effectively underscores this classic film drama which rewarded Olivia de Havilland with her second Oscar for Best Actress. The film also starred Montgomery Clift and Sir Ralph Richardson.

Sixty years after his Oscar-winning score to THE HEIRESS, I am pleased to name this year's Lifetime Achievement in honor of Aaron Copland, one of America's greatest composers -- and that goes for his film music too.

He was a master of all he created.

-- Roger Hall, The Sammy Awards

Note: A Sammy Award certificate has been sent in Copland's honor to his former home, now a place where composers go to study and compose, and also used for special events. It is known as Copland House.




The 1980 interview with Copland speaking about his film music is
available on a special edition CD
-R titled,

Aaron Copland On Film Music

Also included on this one hour disc is a rare TV program from 1969, hosted by Aaron Copland, speaking about his film scores and conducting excerpts with a full orchestra. The TV program, titled "Music for the Movies," was recorded on audio tape and the sound levels are lower than usual but still quite listenable. This rare TV program includes excerpts these Copland film scores: THE CITY, OF MICE AND MEN, OUR TOWN, and SOMETHING WILD.

The CD-R is available at this link:

American Music Recordings Archive




A new recording of the complete scores from
OF MICE AND MEN and OUR TOWN has been released on a Naxos CD
and has been reviewed by Jim Lochner at

Film Score Click Track


Something Wild

Read the CD review for Copland's last film score at:



Here are a few other recommended CD recordings of Copland's film music:

The Copland Collection: Orchestral & Ballet Works, 1936-1948

The Copland Collection, 1936-1948  
includes OUR TOWN and Music for Movies

Celluloid Copland - Film Music / Sheffer, EOS Orchestra

Celluloid Copland - World Premiere Film Music
(EOS Orchestra, Jonathan Sheffer, conductor)




Copland: Music for Films (St. Louis Symphony Orchestra,
Leonard Slatkin, conductor)




A Few Past Sammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Composers and Songwriters

Ken Darby (1909-1992)


Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004)


Jay Livingston (1915-2001)
Ray Evans (1915-2007)


Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)




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.

Music From Hollywood


The Sammy Awards (Complete List)


The Sammy Awards (Home page)


If you have comments or questions, write to

The Sammy Awards



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