Film Music Review
The Sammy Awards






11th Anniversary Special



Above pictures of composers conducting (clockwise from left):
Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, and Max Steiner -
all of them represented on the lists below.

Film Music Review began online with Volume 1, Number 1 on 8 July 1998.

In that first issue there were 6 scores and 4 compilations reviewed, with the highest ratings going to Max Steiner's KING KONG (Marco Polo re-recording) and John Williams CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (Arista expanded CD). Unfortunately due to a malfunction all these reviews were lost.

These are some of the comments received after the initial issue in 1998:

  • "Clearly you have a long view of this art form - and that is good!" -- Bob Bowd "I was very impressed when viewing your site...I appreciate your taste in film music" -- Matthew Gear
  • "Enjoyed your web site - nice job and very informative"--
    Randall D. Larson
    , Editor, Soundtrack Magazine
  • "I want to congratulate you on your new site - for me it's one of the best review sites on the net (or in print) simply because it gets to the 'meat' of the story without all the fluff and nasty personal grudge stuff that seems to be standard at some other sites" -- Mark Northam, Film Music Magazine
  • "Excellent site - straightforward, no nonsense and to the point. Every film music buff should visit it." -- David Wishart, the late prolific CD producer and writer

Eleven years later, Film Music Review has grown to an impressive size
with over 1,000 Book, CD, and DVD reviews.

Volumes 1- 7 of Film Music Review were on the AOL website
and are no longer
available online.

Volumes 8 - 11 are listed here.


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FMR 11th Anniversary

If you enjoy music from older films, this DVD is highly recommended. It includes music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, David Raksin, Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Franz Waxman.

This DVD is well worth adding to your collection:

Music for the Movies: The Hollywood Sound





Film Scores Favorites

Congratulations to Craig Anderson for sending in the best entry of 11 favorite film scores. He wins a Free CD of film music.

His list plus the favorites of our two reviewers are listed below.

It is interesting how some of the same composers (and same scores) got picked.

Only one film score was on all three lists:

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

And these scores were on two lists:

Ben-Hur - A Tale Of The Christ: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1959 Version)

BEN-HUR - Miklos Rozsa




Composers with two or more film scores on the lists:

Elmer Bernstein = 2
Erich Wolfgang Korngold = 2
Alex North = 2
Max Steiner = 2
Dimitri Tiomkin = 3
Franz Waxman = 2
John Williams = 5

Film scores of 1930s = 3
Film scores of 1940s = 8
Film scores of 1950s = 5
Film scores of 1960s = 5
Film scores of 1970s = 3
Film scores of 1980s = 4
Film scores of 1990s = 1



Click on these links for the list of...

Craig Anderson's Favorite Film Scores

Steven Kennedy's Favorite Film Scores

Roger Hall's Favorite Film Scores



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Eleven Favorite Film Scores

By Craig W. Anderson (film music collector and writer)

Here is my list in no particular order...



Jerry Goldsmith

There has never been another score like it and for all of its sharp percussion, jarring effects and odd melodies, it's a terrific listen! One of a kind from a composer who was surely one of a kind. Of course, there are about 20 Goldsmith's that would qualify for the list - PATTON, THE BLUE MAX, MAGIC, THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, THE SAND PEBBLES and so on and on... but APES is, to me, the most innovative and unforgettable.

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) - Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Epic adventure scoring that set the standard for every other swashbuckler score that followed. This score has the Best Finale of any film, melodies everywhere, leitmotifs is timeless and brilliant.

THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987) - John Williams
THE REIVERS (1969) - John Williams

These are Williams at his best and they're a bit different from his other scores and besides, I'm tired of STAR WARS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK appearing on every 'Best of...' list! WITCHES is bright, amusing, spooky and innovative from start to finish and is definitely one of his best...and almost completely ignored. THE REIVERS...pure Americana...banjoes...emotional and fun music that fits the film perfectly. And if anyone really believes that effective film music should blend with the viewing experience so well that it isn't heard...well, they need to have their heads examined because if that was the case with these two films, at least one-third of the enjoyment would be lost.

THE SEA HAWK (1940) - Erich Wolfgang Korngold

See comments for ROBIN HOOD! Perfection.

RED RIVER (1948) - Dimitri Tiomkin

Too many great scores to choose from The Big T! FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 36 HOURS, THE ALAMO, DUEL IN THE SUN, LOST HORIZON, LAND OF THE PHARAOHS, GUNS OF NAVARONE, and on and on. But RED RIVER has it all: His quirky orchestrations, overwhelming passages, terrific themes and an epic sense that lends a feeling of grandeur to the film. Big music for a Big film and pure Tiomkin..


THE THING (FROM ANOTHER WORLD) (1951)- Dimitri Tiomkin

Being a science fiction fan and writer I had to include THE THING. Short but perfect for the film...and that Theremin! Utilized perfectly. Some have said the music is over-the-top...well, what the hell, it's a movie about an intelligent vegetable coming to Earth to wreak havoc!!! How can you be over-the-top scoring for THAT plot line?


THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947) - Bernard Herrmann

Again, too darn many to choose from and any choice can be challenged but I picked this one over PSYCHO, VERTIGO, CITIZEN KANE, FIVE FINGERS and any of the Harryhausen flicks because it is supremely romantic, touching and elegiac. A brilliant score for a very good film.

THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) - Elmer Bernstein

Virtually non-stop scoring throughout this lengthy, exciting and suspenseful war flick and the score matches the images and adds to them and even has some fun Mickey-mousing with the pitchforks stabbing piles of branches early in the movie. And the action music accompanying Steve McQueen's motorcycle escape attempt is some of the best ever written. Again: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS? WALK ON THE WILD SIDE? TRUE GRIT? THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN? TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD? Auugggghhhh! Elmer's tough but ESCAPE sums up his skills, I think, as a composer who understands what a film requires and then delivers.

BEN-HUR (1959) - Miklos Rozsa

The pinnacle of film scoring? I don't know about that but it is deserving to be in any Top list. Rich, memorable in every way and a gigantic score for a film that strives for hugeness and is lifted there by the score. Rozsa, like every other composer in this extravaganza composed brilliant scores but this is his pinnacle and it must be included.

OBJECTIVE, BURMA! (1945) - Franz Waxman

Listening to this either via the rerecording or the OST is truly an experience for it is a symphony, entirely able to stand alone as music sans images. Waxman's work is always interesting, consistently entertaining and covers a wide range of films from BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN to TARAS BULBA, both of which could have appeared here.  Too many fine scores from which to choose so it was semi-throw a dart at Waxman's ouveur and OBJECTIVE, BURMA! won -- a brilliant and generally forgotten score, virtually unknown to today's film music aficionados.


I had to include Max! And this of all of his hundreds of scores fairly bursts with adventurous themes and exciting action music. This score distills Steiner's approach to action/romance/swashbuckling films but THE FLAME AND THE ARROW, FIGHTER SQUADRON, DODGE CITY, THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS, TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE and many others, including GONE WITH THE WIND could have been chosen. But...heck, I simply enjoy the bejabbers out of DON JUAN, so here it is!

Craig's 11 Favorite Film Scores in chronological order:

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) - Erich Wolfgang Korngold
THE SEA HAWK (1940) - Erich Wolfgang Korngold
OBJECTIVE, BURMA! (1945) - Franz Waxman
THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947) - Bernard Herrmann
RED RIVER (1948) - Dimitri Tiomkin
THE THING (FROM ANOTHER WORLD)(1951) - Dimitri Tiomkin
BEN-HUR (1959) - Miklos Rozsa
THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) - Elmer Bernstein
THE REIVERS (1969) - John Williams
THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987) - John Williams



My Eleven Favorites

By Steven A. Kennedy


In honor of the 11 th anniversary of FMR here are my 11 favorite scores—and you can probably guess them even before you start reading away, and in no order.

These are scores that tend to get repeated listening. The surprise for me was that Jerry Goldsmith’s music is missing—but that’s perhaps due to the fact that I tend to listen to his music so much I just couldn’t pick a favorite—and it always depends on the time of year (i.e., ask me in October and THE OMEN might be in the CD player) or if I am in a STAR TREK mood. And while I love the score for PLANET OF THE APES, it’s usually a bit much to listen to in the car or at work!


STAR WARS (1977)— John Williams




Like many of us who grew up in the 1970s, this was the score that got our attention. Apart from Disney kid records, this was the first score disc I ever bought.




THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)— Erich Wolfgang Korngold

You can’t argue with a classic Korngold score. It’s the one that finds its way to my CD player the most, especially since we now have the classic Gerhardt and the newer classic Stromberg releases to enjoy.





VERTIGO (1958)— Bernard Herrmann

It’s a hard pick for a great Herrmann score, but the music for this Hitchcock thriller is among my favorites when I’m not enjoying those awesome Harryhausen scores of Sinbad’s adventures.



TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)— Elmer Bernstein

It only takes watching the film to truly appreciate this awesome score and it works quite well on its own.

HENRY V (1989)— Patrick Doyle

This is perhaps not a normal pick, but Doyle’s score was one of several late 1980s scores that began to entice me back to listening seriously to film music.

SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993)— John Williams

And then there was this score which I always find myself returning to again and again. Perhaps the composer’s truly greatest work.

ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1938)— Sergei Prokofiev

Watch the film, in its restoration and gain a real appreciation for this amazing work. The ice battle is some of the best music written for film. Skip the concert cantata and go for recordings of the complete score.

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3 (1974)— David Shire

Again a great score to listen to with a wonderful asymmetrical thematic idea and funky jazz.

THE MISSION (1986)— Ennio Morricone

It’s very hard to pick a favorite Morricone score, but this one, with the beautiful “ Gabriel’s Oboe” finds itself in the CD player more than others.

BATMAN (1989)— Danny Elfman

This was the first Elfman CD I ever bought and it is a great score. Perhaps it’s the Herrmann-undertones that make it such a personal favorite.


Likely another “surprise” but I just love this very intimate score by North. The thematic material is most engaging and beautifully scored.

Steve's 11 favorite film scores in chronological order:

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) -- Erich Wolfgang Korngold
ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1938) -- Sergei Prokofiev
VERTIGO (1958) -- Bernard Herrmann
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) -- Elmer Bernstein
THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3 (1974) -- David Shire
STAR WARS (1977) -- John Williams
THE MISSION (1986) -- Ennio Morricone
BATMAN (1989) -- Danny Elfman
HENRY V (1989) -- Patrick Doyle
SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993) -- John Williams

Eleven for the Eleventh

By Roger L. Hall

For this anniversary, I have selected some of the same scores I've picked in previous years because they remain among my favorites. It is extremely difficult to pick just 11 favorite film scores since there are so many great film scores I could choose. So I've selected these film scores for personal reasons and they are listed here in chonological order:

KING KONG (1933) - Max Steiner

This is considered by many as the first major Hollywood film score and remains one of the best today. The music by Steiner perfectly matches the action and sentiment of this classic fantasy film. I first watched KING KONG when it premiered on WOR-TV in New York and was promoted for weeks before it was shown. I sat in front of our family TV for one week in the mid-1950s when it had the TV premiere on "Million Dollar Movie." I still remember the thrill I had from watching the film and listening to Steiner's dynamic score. And that was when I became aware of the importance of music in a film.

CITIZEN KANE (1941) - Bernard Herrmann

Now there are probably some who will vehemantly disagree with this choice, but I believe this is the greatest film score from the past. Bernard Herrmann's terrific score has all sorts of musical styles, from ragtime to waltzes to an aria from an imaginary opera. I can't think of any other film composer who has composed a score with so much depth and diversity. Herrmann had the luxury of working closely with Orson Welles and knew him from their work together at CBS Radio, where the infamous "War of the Worlds" was broadcast in 1938. I have named CITIZEN KANE to my list of 100 essential film scores of the 20th century and I believe it makes an excellent compliment to this greatest of all American films.

LAURA (1944) - David Raksin

One of the great film mystery classics of the 1940s, it features the unforgettable main theme which runs throughout the film. David Raksin's score is one of the first to employ a single main theme that runs through a series of variations on that theme. Oddly, this terrific film and score was overlooked in the Academy Awards that year. The haunting Raksin theme was later made into a hit song, with lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer. Raksin's own recording of a suite from LAURA stands out as the best version of this milestone score.

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) - Hugo Friedhofer

I love this film about three servicemen returning home after World War II. Hugo Friedhofer's touching film score adds just the right amount of sentiment hen it is needed. The opening scene of these servicemen returning to Boone City is among the most poignant in any film. For me, this is the greatest film ever made about the suffering and struggles of servicemen during wartime. Friedhofer's reinforces these feelings perfectly and the score is his crowning achievement in a long and distinguished career.

A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951) - Franz Waxman

It is hard to leave out this wonderfully evocative score which rightly won an Academy Award for Waxman. When I was a radio guest for my annual Oscar film music tribute along with announcing the Sammy Awards, I usually tried to play the suite from A PLACE IN THE SUN. The recording I always chose is the one conducted by Charles Gerhardt, featuring a stunning sax solo by Ronnie Chamberlain. The love theme from this film still gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. A real beauty of a score!

HIGH NOON (1952) - Dimitri Tiomkin

After many years of waiting for this landmark western film score to appear on CD, that has finally happened and I named it Best of the Year for 2007. It is hard to believe that there has never been a release of the complete soundtrack to one of the first of the so-called "adult westerns" from the 1950s. Dimitri Tiomkin's score and song were both Oscar winners and fully deserved that honor. His score uses the opening "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" song as a motif throughout the film. As with David Raksin's great score for LAURA, Tiomkin's HIGH NOON is an example of a monothematic film score, where a single theme dominates throughout. Tiomkin's did many western scores which included RED RIVER, RIO BRAVO, and THE ALAMO. The Russian-born Tiomkin turned out to be highly skilled at writing for the American West. His western film scores are among the best ever written and HIGH NOON stands right up there at the top.


VERTIGO (1958) - Bernard Herrmann

This is the second Bernard Herrmann score on my list but I can't leave out one of his great Hitchcock's scores. Some people might prefer NORTH BY NORTHWEST or PSYCHO, but for me VERTIGO has the supreme Hitchcock film and score. Herrmann's music continues to dazzle and delight and his ability to write such intensely emotional music is just amazing. Like all the film scores on my list, I never tire of listening to this mesmerizing film score.

BEN-HUR (1959) - Miklos Rozsa

Truly one of the greatest epic films ever made and the superb film score by Miklos Rozsa is one of the greatest film scores as well. Rozsa was a classically trained composer who delighted in doing research for the historical films he scored. This one doesn't contain any original Roman music since none survives, but does contain a few Greek melodic fragments that Rozsa found. But what is more important is Rozsa's deeply spiritual score that moves effortlessly between with dark and light melodic themes. BEN-HUR is a masterpiece of film scoing.

SPARTACUS (1960) - Alex North

I'm a sucker for a beautiful love theme and this film has one of the greatest of them all. Not only that, but the battle music is among the most exciting ever composed for an epic film about the ancient days. Alex North is often overlooked as a major film composer but even without considering his other memorable scores, like A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and CLEOPATRA, this composer deserves more recognition and to me SPARTACUS is his masterpiece film score.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) - Elmer Bernstein

Elmer Bernstein's simple and sensitive film score makes all the difference in this excellent film starring Gregory Peck. Bernstein's ability to keep his score childlike is an excellent example of using less to achieve more. This was Bernstein's favorite score and it is mine as well. It is a beautifully realized achievement in film scoring and deserves the praise it has received.


Most fans of John Williams would probably pick STAR WARS over this film score but for me CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is a far more satisfying experience. When I spoke with Williams years ago and asked him to name his favorite film, he said it was usually the one he was working on, but then paused and said he probably preferred CLOSE ENCOUNTERS because it was such a great project to work on with Steven Spielberg. I agree with him and his memorable five note motif used for the aliens is a brilliant choice as well as his beautiful setting of "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Disney's animated film, PINOCCHIO. The final scenes have been compared to a supreme religious experience and that feeling is mostly due to the brilliant scoring by Williams. Even though some of the dialogue is awful and the family situations way over-the-top, this remains a magical film music excursion into a futuristic world of aliens that come to visit us and are friendly. The Williams score makes it even more hopeful that this "encounter" can be a revelation.

Roger's 11 Favorite Film Scores in chronological order:

KING KONG (1933) -- Max Steiner
CITIZEN KANE (1941) -- Bernard Herrmann
LAURA (1944) -- David Raksin
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) -- Hugo Friedhofer
A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951) -- Franz Waxman
HIGH NOON (1952) -- Dimtri Tiomkin
VERTIGO (1958) -- Bernard Herrmann
BEN-HUR (1959) -- Miklos Rozsa
SPARTACUS (1960) -- Alex North
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) -- Elmer Bernstein



Other FMR Links


100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century


You can read previous anniversary picks at these links:

10th Anniversary Special

9th Anniversary Special

8th Anniversary Special



Film Music Review (Home Page)

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