Film Music Review
The Sammy Awards







18th Anniversary Special


Pictures of film composers in concerts or recording sessions
(from the top):

Elmer Bernstein
Jerry Goldsmith
Miklos Rozsa
John Williams
Max Steiner

All five composers are represented on the lists below by FMR critics.


Film Music Review began as an online e-zine 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).
These are some of the comments sent in after that first issue appeared:


  • "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, CD reviewer and magazine editor

  • "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, Publisher, Film Music Magazine

  • "Excellent site - straightforward, no nonsense and to the point. Every film music buff should visit it." -- David Wishart, late CD producer and writer

Now one of the longest-running e-zines of its kind, Film Music Review has grown to an impressive size with many Book, CD, and DVD reviews.

Volumes 1- 15 (1998-2013) of Film Music Review originally appeared online and now there are hundreds of CD reviews included for each year on a multi-media DVD with music examples, a video program, and also this book titled,

Comments about this popular book from respected film composers:

"Thank you for your kind letter and the copy of your film music book.  
Congratulations and best wishes for success
in your future contributions to the film music literature.
-- John Williams


"I do feel your book is done in a most interesting way.  It affords a quick overview of what has not become a very, very broad field.  Congratulations!"
Elmer Bernstein, late film composer and conductor


"Your film music guide should be available to anyone interested in the Golden Age and beyond."
John Morgan, film composer/score restorer


Read more about this book on DVD

Click here








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.


Music for the Movies: The Hollywood Sound





From the files of Film Music Review...

DVD - Film Music Master:
A Tribute to Bernard Herrmann


Film Music Review

18th Anniversary Special

A Note of

Putting together an online e-zine of any kind is not an easy task and usually goes unheralded. It takes many hours to write and organize the information, and then to publicize it online to film music fans everywhere. I assume other film music sites also spend considerable time in their preparation and are deserving of support.

Also deserving of praise for film music restoration and preservation are CD labels such as: Film Score Monthly, Intrada, Monstrous Movie Music, Tadlow, Tribute Film Classics, and Varese Sarabande, which have all received Sammy Film Music Awards over the years.

This online e-zine is part of American Music so the focus has been more on older scores and less on present day film music.

Some film music fans have very narrow interests and seem to think if a critic disagrees with their favorite soundtrack or composer that critic is treated as if he or she is an idiot. I strongly disagree with this view and also the nasty messages that sometime buzz across cyberspace by some anonymous fans who haven't learned how to behave. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but they should be treated with some respect -- and that includes film music critics. Disagreement is fine, personal attack or ridicule is not. After all, critics are fans of film music too.

I'm especially pleased to express my gratitude to my staff critics, Steven A. Kennedy and Steve Vertlieb, for their commendable writing and views about film music. Both of them have greatly helped to make FMR a more interesting and diverse online e-zine.

A few years ago, I asked our critics to select some of their favorite film scores. I think these lists are worth repeating and you might have some of the same choices.

Your comments about this anniversary special are welcome and you are invited to read other news and reviews that is posted on FMR.

Music for motion pictures is one of the great pleasures in our popular culture.

Let's all continue to support the preservation of worthwhile film music from the past as well as from the present day.


Yours filmmusically,

Roger L. Hall
Managing Editor, Film Music Review (FMR)
8 July 2016

Send your comments to:

FMR 18h anniversary

Film Composers Chosen By All Three FMR Critics:

Elmer Bernstein
Jerry Goldsmith
Bernard Herrmann
Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Alfred Newman
Alex North
Miklos Rozsa
Franz Waxman
John Williams

One Film Score Chosen By All Three FMR Critics:

SPARTACUS (1960) - Alex North

Film Scores Chosen By Two FMR Critics:

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) - Hugo Friedhofer
KING KONG (1933) - Max Steiner
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) - Elmer Bernstein
PLANET OF THE APES (1968) - Jerry Goldsmith

Favorite film scores by these FMR critics -

Selected by Steve Vertlieb

Selected by Steven A. Kennedy

Selected by Roger L. Hall


All three are members of the...


IFMCA: the International Film Music Critics Association



A few recommended CD releases
of vintage film music--



Music by Miklos Rozsa
Conducted by Irvin Talbot

22 tracks = 68:28

Miklos Rozsa wrote that "though SPELLBOUND had the more popular themes, THE LOST WEEKEND was an infinitely stronger score." I would agree that this score has more dramatic impact and has the most effective use of the theremin in any film of that time. Excellent CD notes by Frank K. DeWald.

This score by Rozsa is listed on

100 Essential Film Scores



Music by Bernard Herrmann
Music Box Records (Special Archive Edition - 2 CDs)

Disc One (74:00) has the complete film score.
Disc Two (39:07) has the 1976 soundtrack album.

One of Herrmann's most dynamic and distinctive film scores
for a somewhat overwrought film thriller directed by Brian De Palma.
Very informative CD notes by Daniel Schweiger.

Also recommended is the re-recording by
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra,
conducted by Nic Raine on CD and Blu-ray audio disc
available from Tadlow -- click here.

This score by Herrmann is listed on

100 Essential Film Scores


RIO BRAVO (1959)
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Disc One (27 tracks = 53:24)
Disc Two (34 tracks = 57:08)

The complete soundtrack along with extra cues
and the songs from this terrific Tiomkin western score
and one of his very best as well as one of the best westerns of the 1950s.
Extensive notes by Frank K. De Wald and CD producer, Douglass Fake.

This score by Tiomkin is listed on

100 Essential Film Scores

Music by Max Steiner
BYU MFA CD (36 tracks = 68:29)

This is a most welcome release with one of Max Steiner's
best film scores from his later career, and including prominant use of the
popular 19th century song, "Lorena." The title song by Stan Jones
is sung by the western vocal group, Sons of the Pioneers. A worthwhile 20 year tribute essay by James D-Arc is included in the handsomely produced booklet, which also has useful notes by CD Producer, Ray Faiola,
Chelsea Rialto Studios.

This score by Steiner is listed on

100 Essential Film Scores













  • Miklos Rozsa – LUST FOR LIFE - The passion, dignity, and exquisite suffering of Vincent Van Gough’s tormented genius is painfully expressed by Rozsa’s compassionate rendering of his tortured soul. The lush strokes painted in music convey a powerful tapestry equalled only by the signature brush strokes of the artist himself. Vincente Minnelli’s rhapsodic portrait of a dispairing heart is lavishly illustrated by Miklos Rozsa’s magnificent artistry.

  • Bernard Herrmann – THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR - This beloved fantasy classic afforded Herrmann the opportunity to compose his most ethereal score. The love between a lonely widow and the ghost of a sea captain is deeply felt by the composer who created his most tender, and romantically exquisite work, hauntingly capturing the infinite expression of enduring affection transcending both time and eternity.

  • Alfred Newman – THE RAZOR'S EDGE – This profoundly spiritual examination of a wandering soul finding meaning and redemption within the mountains of Himalaya offered the sublimely gifted composer a chance to create one of his most complex and remarkable achievements, capturing not only the beauty of mortal romance, but the miraculous ascension of the human spirit as expressed by his magnificent score.

  • John Williams – E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - The most gifted composer of the past fifty years created his most enduring love sonnet to the wonder and sweet innocence of childhood in Steven’s Spielberg’s unforgettable fantasy, a fragile exploration of friendship and discovery compressed into a sublime tapestry of loneliness and coming of age.


  • Dimitri Tiomkin –LOST HORIZON – Frank Capra’s utopian fantasy about the Valley of the Blue Moon and its promise of eternal life gave Tiomkin the opportunity to compose his most ethereal score, a wondrous symphony of sound and substance, expressing in music the very summit of man’s aspirations to spiritual goodness, his ascension to the divinity of soul, and the sublime perfection of selfless devotion to the evolution of the human spirit.


  • Elmer Bernstein – SOME CAME RUNNING – The controversial novel by James Jones inspired this volatile Vincente Minnelli drama about a soldier returning home, only to encounter bigotry and violence. Elmer Bernstein’s immaculate score sensitively captured the loneliness and sexual repression hidden away in a small Indiana town, alternately uncovering the steamy passion and unhappy desperation in the lives of its world weary characters.

  • Hugo Friedhofer – THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES - Friedhofer, among the most gifted, if underrated, Hollywood composers created his personal masterpiece with the exquisite score for William Wyler’s sober and complex tale of returning veterans finding disillusionment in post war America. The bittersweet homecoming of three scarred and wounded soldiers is hauntingly underscored by Friedhofer’s moving, passionate, and unforgettable Oscar winning music.

  • Max Steiner – KING KONG – Perhaps the first important symphonic score of the sound era, Max Steiner’s ground breaking, wall to wall symphony of excitation roared across the screen with ferocious individuality, creating the exhilarating mold upon which all subsequent composers and scores would find their own dramatic inspiration.

  • Franz Waxman – THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN - Following in the paw prints of KING KONG, Franz Waxman’s revolutionary score for the second in Universal’s historic FRANKENSTEIN films soared in meteoric splendor, a wondrous and spectacular Wagnerian suite emblazoned by near operatic, sublimely joyous hysteria. So successful was the score for this fantasic James Wale sequel that Universal used it once more as the background music for its popular FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS serial, creating new life for the score, as Henry Frankenstein had created new life for “the monster.”

  • Jerry Goldsmith – THE WIND AND THE LION – Jerry Goldsmith’s fabled rise to prominence was highlighted by his heroic score for the handsome costume epic starring Sean Connery as a colorful Arab chieftan doing battle with encroaching civilization, fighting valiantly for a life style that would soon fade both from memory and existence. Steeped in symphonic grandeur, and romantic tradition, Goldsmith’s glorious rhapsody rejoiced in reverent recollection of a breathless world, and its courageous “lion,” that had gone with the “wind.”

  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold – BETWEEN TWO WORLDS – Filmed originally as OUTWARD BOUND with Leslie Howard in the lead, this profoundly beautiful retelling of the classic tale of passengers on an ocean liner bound for eternity brought exhilarating new life to the haunting story of life after death. While better known for his swashbuckling themes for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and THE SEA HAWK, Korngold’s exquisite score for this tender fantasy remains a remarkable highlight of this legendary composer’s compellingly classical film career.

  • Victor Young – SCARAMOUCHE – Young brilliantly captures the intricate romantic complexity of the wonderful Sabatini story of a daring cavalier posing as a clown in order to exact revenge upon the aristocrat who had killed his youthful friend in a duel. The composer’s thrilling main title theme resonates commandingly as echoes of champions fence their heroic swath through cherished celluloid corridors bloodied by the spectres of Fairbanks and Flynn. Romantic, exultant, and joyously exuberant, Victor Young’s splendid musical tableau remains a consummate tribute to chivalry and cinematic valor.

  • Alex North – SPARTACUS – Celebrated composer Alex North reached the zenith of his career with his brilliant score for Stanley Kubrick’s historical extravaganza concerning the slave revolt that nearly consumed the arrogant empire that was Rome. North’s powerfully dissonant treatment of the irrational enslavement of an heroic people, yearning for the day in which their physical and spiritual imprisonment might be eradicated, tragically dramatizes the repressive dictatorship inspiring their rebellion. The immensity of his music is subtly, yet over poweringly, understated by the gentle simplicity of its love theme, an emotional counterpoint that rises to a passionate crescendo in dignity, and tribute to the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

    by Steve Vertlieb




The only real way for me to go about picking my favorites was to think about which scores I might listen to on a regular basis and the result is what you have below. This is no “best” ever list by any means and a lot of other choices had to go by the wayside.


My first exposure to this score came from the concert march on one of the early John Williams and the Boston Pops LPs. So its recent availability on CD has made this great Newman score available.


Probably one of the first film scores I may have owned music to in its cantata format. Prokofiev’s score is a masterpiece of music and is best appreciated, like all great film music, when it can be heard alongside this fascinating Russian classic. The “ Battle on the Ice” has to be one of the best cues in film music.


Though I make my way through my Korngold collection about every two years, this particular score finds itself to my CD player more often than any of the other great works by this composer. You just cannot beat the swashbuckling sound of this score.


This may be a surprising selection, but I wanted to honor Hitchcock films in some way as they were always personal favorites. Though this one is less fascinating on film, there is no denying that creepy theremin in the score.


Waxman is another difficult composer to determine just one score, but here I was most interested in choosing something that is a bit beyond his more Romantic works like Rebecca, or The Silver Chalice. This score is again one of those classic pieces of music that helps make this film one of the most engrossing works of the period.


There is no denying the starkness and raw power North brought to this epic score. This was the film I most identified the composer with through the film’s many TV airings. The selection was a close call with WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLFF?, another personal favorite.


You do not need me, or this website, to tell you what a great score and film is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The opening credits and music are so good at establishing the innocence one needs to really appreciate what follows and Bernstein’s music is simply beautiful.


BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S might be the score an older generation would prefer of the Mancini lounge-crossovers of the period. THE PINK PANTHER, and its many sequels, was a popular matinee and TV film throughout my youth making this theme one of the first ones I tried picking out at the piano.

Bernard Herrmann—FARENHEIT 451

Picking just one Herrmann score is probably impossible, but this science fiction score is so amazing in its orchestration and color that it is hard to resist. The runner-up Herrmann score for me was THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, another of those great Harryhausen effect films that were being shown often for kid matinees.


I came to Kaper’s MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY more through its opening titles music and other excerpts on film music compilations over the years. Its recent full appearance on CD makes this score so much more accessible to enjoy in its entirety.


For some it’s Bond, but for me, the Renaissance styles Barry adapted in THE LION IN WINTER make this film far better and manage somehow to stay out of the way of the many strong performances.

Jerry Goldsmith—PLANET OF THE APES

The PLANET OF THE APES original and its subsequent sequels were common TV fare when I was a kid. I was even a fan of the TV series (and had a couple of action figures which I wish I still owned!). Goldsmith’s music was so very different from anything else I had heard in a film. “The Hunt” sequence is still one of my personal favorites. There are many great Goldsmith scores during the 1960s that we are all getting reacquainted with these days.

John Williams—STAR WARS

It perhaps is appropriate to end with the score that was my true entry into film music fandom, though of one particular composer, John Williams. I listened to this score so much, that I still have trouble with the more recent re-mastered and re-edited releases of the music that appeared on RCA/BMG a decade ago. But it feels like the right place to stop as we end up with another swashbuckling score in the shadow of Korngold.

Here’s to another great year of reacquainting ourselves with more great film music!

by Steven A. Kennedy




Here are some of my favorites among many, selected from
my list of 100 Essential Scores of the 20th Century:










Bernard Herrmann - CITIZEN KANE (1941)
Miklos Rozsa - BEN-HUR (1959)
Alfred Newman - THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943)
Max Steiner
- KING KONG (1933)
Elmer Bernstein - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)
Jerry Goldsmith - PLANET OF THE APES (1968)
Dimitri Tiomkin - HIGH NOON (1952)
Franz Waxman - A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
Hugo Friedhofer - THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
Erich Wolfgang Korngold - KINGS ROW (1942)
Henry Mancini - BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (1961)
Alex North - SPARTACUS (1960)

by Roger L. Hall


The best researched and most fascinating book on the subject
and Highly Recommended:


Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey
by Harlan Lebo (Thomas Dunne Books, 2016)





Two publications available exclusively on DVD-R
for educational use and to help support Film Music Review,


(6th edition with past reviews and tributes from FILM MUSIC REVIEW)





Music Masters: Fifteen Film Composers on DVD-ROM




100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century



Sammy Film Music Awards (SFMA)




Are you a film music fan

You are invited to read this free e-zine.

Here is the link to the Home Page:

Film Music Review



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