Film Music Review










Now in their 24th 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. He is also 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

"What really makes the Sammy Awards worth checking out is the irregular addition of irreverent and praiseworthy categories."

-- Timothy Sexton (read the full story on the Yahoo Network)


15 February 2012

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.

For many years, the Sammys were announced on the popular WGBH radio program, "Music America," with Ron Della Chiesa. Some of these radio shows are included on the bonus audio with the multimedia DVD, A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC.

Sammy Cahn certainly deserved the honor since he 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.

This year there are a few changes.

Read the comments about a film score that has already received a lot of attention but I believe, like the film, it is not the best of the year --

Also, I am pleased to add a new cateogry this year for Best New Television Score.

Unlike some previous years, this has been a very good year for film music recordings.

-- Roger Hall

Categories for this year's Sammy Film Music Awards:




The Sammys have been listed in previous years at these sites:

Cinema Retro

Elmer Bernstein - The Official Site

Film Score Monthly

Film Score Click Track (article by Jim Lochner)



John Williams Fan Network


If you would like to list the Sammys and exchange links, write to:

The Sammy Awards


The International Film Music Critics Association have announced their awards for best of the year and they agree with the Sammy for Best Film Score of the Year. See the complete list at their site:



See the movie songs and scores from the past chosen by readers at

Favorite Film Music Poll

Words by Sammy Cahn

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

New Sammy Cahn Songbook

Read his frank and witty autobiography...

I Should Care: The Sammy Cahn Story

I Should Care: The Sammy Cahn Story

Help Support The Sammy Awards!

If you donate to help support The Sammy Awards you will receive a copy of a multimedia DVD-R with the useful film music guide and bonus audio from Oscar music tributes by Roger Hall on WGBH radio with announcements of the Sammy Awards between 1989 and 1995. The book and bonus features are included on the DVD-R, playable on any computer, and titled,


You will receive a copy of this multimedia DVD-R with a donation of $25 or more to help support The Sammy Awards.

You can donate by credit card payable to PineTree Productions,
through safe and secure PayPal.

Click on this button to


After you have made your donation,
to insure proper delivery,
lease send your mailing address to:

Film Music Guide DVD-R

Click on this link to see the contents:


See also this limited edition CD,

Oscar Meet Sammy: Film Music Awards On Radio


The awards are based on CDs released or reviewed in 2011.

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.

But this was a good year for film scores. I have already chosen the ones I believe are superior, listed under the Best Film Music Releases of 2011, and make up the nominees for this year's Sammy Awards.

As Sammy Cahn would say with words from one of his Oscar-winning songs, they are the nominees...

Now, on to the CD recordings I have selected for both new and vintage film scores...


The 24th Annual Sammy Awards



Best New Film Score CD

Music by John Williams
Album Produced by John Williams

(Sony Classical)


After several years without a new film score and the recipient of more Sammy Awards than any other film composer, John Williams has returned with two very good scores for 2011: THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN and WAR HORSE. I believe WAR HORSE is the better of the two and the film
directed by Steven Spielberg is an exceptional achievement.
WAR HORSE is my pick for Best Film and Best Score of the Year.

See also -- John Williams: An 80th Birthday Tribute

Runner-Up Film Score CD: HUGO - music by Howard Shore


THE ARTIST Hits A Sour Note!

The score to this film has been winning many awards and is an enjoyable album to listen to. But there is a major problem -- the number of musicians involved in its creation: 5 arrangers and 5 orchestrators. How much of this score did Ludovic Bource actually compose? Who knows? An annoyance for anyone who enjoys Bernard Herrmann's beautiful love theme from VERTIGO, is its use (all 5 minutes of it!) for a key scene in THE ARTIST. This is an inappropriate use of a beautiful theme from a great Hitchcock film (which is not even given proper credit in the end credits). Why not write an original theme for this scene in THE ARTIST? Kim Novak was correct for objecting to this "borrowing" of Herrmann's music from VERTIGO.


Best Overlooked New Film Score CD


Music by Mark McKenzie
Album Produced by Mark McKenzie

(BSX Records)

A beautiful and inspiring film score for an animated film
by an accomplished composer who has composed and arranged
many film scores over the years. This is his best work yet.



New Category!

Best New Television Score

Downton Abbey

Music score by John Lunn

A marvelous soundtrack for one of the best television series
in many a year. Every aspect of this series is Top Drawer,
including John Lunn's wonderful film score.



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

Music by Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann
Album Produced by Nick Redman
(Varese Sarabande, 2 CDs)




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

Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Album Produced by Nick Redman and Mike Matessino
(Intrada 2 CDs)



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


Music by Basil Poledouris
Produced by James Fitzpatrick
(Prometheus, 2 CDs)

Best Vintage Compilation CD


Compilation Produced by Robert Townson
(Varese Sarabande - 3 CD Box Set)



Best Newly Recorded
Vintage Film Score CD


Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Produced by James Fitzpatrick
(Prometheus, 2 CDs)


Special Preservation Award:
Best Album Producer

This year's recipient has been producing vintage films and music from the past. He has worked on both CDs (like this year's THE EGYPTIAN) and DVDs, all of them of excellent quality and featuring film music worth preserving.

For his many years of outstanding work,
the Special Preservation Award goes to:

Nick Redman


Here are several examples of his DVDs with isolated score tracks:


(Blu-ray Special Edition)
Music by Bernard Herrmann

Isolated score track
commentary by film and music historians: John Morgan,
Nick Redman, Steven Smith, William Stromberg



The Robe

THE ROBE (1953)
(Special Edition)
Music by Alfred Newman

Isolated score track
commentary by film composer David Newman,
film historians Jon Burlingame, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman


(Cinema Classics Collection)
Music by Jerry Goldsmith

Isolated score track
commentary by Jon Burlingame, Len Dobbs, and Nick Redman



Previous Best Album Producers:

Robert Townson (2011)

Anna Bonn, John Morgan, William Stromberg (2010)

James Fitzpatrick (2009)

Douglass Fake (2008)


Lifetime Achievement Award
For A Past Film Composer


Since 1988, there have been 18 past film composers/ arrangers and 6 songwriters/lyric writers named for this Lifetime Achievement Award, each of them have made significant accomplishments in 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, Aaron Copland, and John Barry.

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 film composer known for only a handful of major film scores during the 1940s (LAURA, FOREVER AMBER), 1950s (THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, UNTIL THEY SAIL), and 1960s (WILL PENNY).

So this year, on the centennial of his birth, click on this link for more about this film composer from Hollywood's Golden Age,

David Raksin (1912-2004)




A Few Sammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Composers and Songwriters



John Barry Remembered (1933-2011)



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 2011


The Sammy Awards (1988-2008)

The Sammy Awards (Home page)



If you have comments or questions, write to

The Sammy Awards


Do you 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 great site,

Film Score Click Track





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