Film Music Review










Now in their 23rd year, the Sammy Awards (or Sammys) are the longest-running awards chosen exclusively for film music recordings.

They 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.




The Sammy Film Music Awards


13 February 2011

You've heard of the Oscars but have you heard of the Sammys?

The Sammys have no connection to the Oscars, BAFTA, Golden Globes, 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 huge admirer of Sammy's lyrics.

-- Roger Hall


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

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

Cinema Retro

Elmer Bernstein - The Official Site

Film Score Monthly

Film Score Click Track article by Jim Lochner



John Williams Fan Network

Music Books Available

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

New Sammy Cahn Songbook

Also available is a multimedia publication on DVD by film music historian Roger Hall, with audio files from Oscar music tributes on radio and also announcements of the Sammy Awards between 1989 and 1995. These audio files ("Film Music and The Sammy Awards") and also a video program from television are included at no extra charge as part of this DVD titled,


23rd Annual Sammy Awards For 2010

Categories for this year's Sammy Awards:

The awards are based on CDs released or reviewed in 2010.

Once again this year, there is no award for Best Film Song since I didn't think any song was worth special praise. For many years now film songs have been mostly forgettable.

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

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 those...



Best New Film Score

The King's Speech

music by Alexandre Desplat

A wonderfully subtle and sensitive score to the year's best film by a
composer who has become a major film music creator.


Best Overlooked New Film Score


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

music by David Arnold

impressive film score by a film composer
who has produced many fine scores over the years.
This is one of his better recent efforts.

Most Overrated New Film Score


music by Hans Zimmer
(Water Tower Music)

An overly repetitive mostly electronic score lacking
anything memorable except for the mesmerizing "Time" theme,
to a film without a coherent story and basically a
nonsense thrill ride using video game special effects.


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

music by Bernard Herrmannn


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

THE ALAMO - Complete Score
music by Dimitri Tiomkin
(Prometheus 3 CD Box Set)



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


music by Jerry Goldsmith
(Intrada 2 CDs)



Best Vintage Compilation CD

music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
(Classic Film Score Series - RCA)



Best Newly Recorded
Vintage Film Score CD

Complete Score
music by Maurice Jarre
(Tadlow, 2 CDs)



Special Preservation Award:
Best Album Producer

music by Alex North
6 CD/1 DVD Box Set with illustrated book
Varese Sarabande

Robert Townson

He deserves the most credit for producing
one of the greatest soundtrack restorations of our time and also for producing 1,000 film music releases for Varese Sarabande --
an outstanding achievement for any album producer.
This is highly recommended for any fan of the great epic film from 1960.
A milestone release.


Lifetime Achievement Award


Since 1988, there have been 17 past film composers/ arrangers and 6 songwriters/lyric writers 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, Ken Darby, and Aaron Copland.

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 the Lifetime Achievement Award goes to a recently deceased major film composer.

Click on the link to read --


John Barry Remembered (1933-2011)


A Few Sammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Composers and Songwriters


Aaron Copland (1900-1990


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

Best Film Music CDs of 2010


The Sammy Awards (1988-2008)

The Sammy Awards (Home page)


If you have comments or questions, write to

The Sammy Awards


Think all film critics think alike?

To quote a popular Gershwin song, "It ain't necessarily so."

See Jim Lochner's extensive list of film music awards at his site,

Film Score Click Track





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