Film Music Review







29th Annual Sammy Film Music Awards



The Sammy Film Music Awards (sometimes called "The Sammys") are the longest-running awards chosen exclusively for film music recordings.

They are named in honor of Sammy ("High Hopes") Cahn (1913-1993),
the movie lyricist who received 4 Oscars and 1 Emmy
Award, more awards than any other movie songwriter.


Since 1988, the Sammy Film Music Awards have been chosen each year for their Excellence by Roger Hall,
a member of the
International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA),
author of the popular book, A Guide to Film Music (now in its 6th edition
and Managing Editor of the e-zine
, Film Music Review.





Lyrics by Sammy Cahn

Help Support The Sammy Film Music Awards

Sammy Cahn Centennial Tribute CD

Highest Number of Sammy Awards

29th Annual Sammy Film Music Awards for 2016

Sammy Cahn and the list of Sammy Film Music Awards

Past Lifetime Achievement Awards


If you have comments or questions, write to

The Sammy Film Music Awards






Lyrics by Sammy Cahn

He certainly deserved the honor for these awards. He was nominated for an Oscar 26 times, more than any other songwriter. Sammy received four Oscars for co-writing these songs:

  • "Three Coins in the Fountain" from THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (1954) -- 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

Sammy also received an Emmy for his lyrics to "Love and Marriage" from the television production of OUR TOWN in 1955.

All five songs were recorded by Frank Sinatra, who was a longtime friend and admirer of Sammy's lyrics.

The Sammy Film Music Awards

Please help support these awards

Make a donation and receive a CD or a multimedia DVD!

If you donate to help support The Sammy Film Music Awards you will receive either of two multimedia DVDs or a CD with music from radio programs featuring film music.

Commemorative CD:


For $20.00 donation (USA only) or $30.00 (outside of USA) you will receive the CD,
Oscar Meets Sammy - Film Music Awards On Radio,
with over one hour of film music and announcements of the Sammy Awards on several
radio programs with guest, Roger Hall.

Multi-media DVDs:

"As Time Goes By" - A Guide to Film Music by Roger Hall (AMRE 01), with bonus music and video features.
Also on the DVD are several video programs about film music. The book with audio and video bonus features are included on a DVD,
playable on any computer with CD/DVD drive or compatible device.

Music Masters: Fifteen Film Composers (AMRE 08) - with audio interviews and concert highlights from radio, A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC book,
CD reviews from Film Music Review, and a video interview with FMR Managing Editor, Roger Hall, and writer, Steve Vertlieb.
All of these features on a DVD, playable on the CD/DVD drive on computer or compatible device.

You can help support The Sammy Film Music Awards by ordering the CD and/or the DVD.

For the CD: "Oscar Meets Sammy - Film Music Awards On Radio,"
make a donation of $20.00 (USA)/ $30.00 (Outside of USA)

For the multimedia DVD, "As Time Goes By" - A Guide to Film Music,
make your donation of $25.00 (USA)/ $35.00 (Outside of USA)



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

Click on this button to

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After you have made your donation,
to insure proper delivery mention the CD or DVD
send your mailing address to:

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Sammy Cahn Centennial Tribute


A festive CD recorded live in concert
with a marvelous group of singers,
accompanied by a swinging jazz combo,
produced by the American Music Recordings Archive and American Classics







Sammy Cahn Centennial Tribute



Composers with highest number of awards


John Williams

JURASSIC PARK (1993) and
(Restored, 2016)


EMPIRE OF THE SUN (Restored, 2014)







"Moonlight" from SABRINA, 1995


"Somewhere In My Memory,"
from HOME ALONE, 1990




See also:
John Williams: A Birthday Tribute





Alexandre Desplat



*"Still Dream" from RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, 2012






The 29th Annual Sammy Film Music Awards

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

-- Timothy Sexton (Yahoo Network)


By Roger Hall
February 12, 2017


Once again this year, I present my choices for the Sammy Film Music Awards (SFMA).
These awards are given for Excellence in film music recordings.

They are based on the quality of film scores and movie songs on CDs or other digital formats.

These awards are named in honor of Sammy Cahn (1913-1993),
who was Oscar-nominated
more than any other songwriter– 26 times in all between 1942 and 1973.  

The first Sammys 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.

In the early years they were called "The Sammys," and announced on the popular Boston radio program,
"Music America," on WGBH-FM, hosted by Ron Della Chiesa.
Some of these radio shows are included on the commemorative
Oscar Meets Sammy - Film Music Awards On Radio

The current awards are based on CDs and include feature film and television soundtracks
but not video game or animated film scores, which are given awards elsewhere,
like the International Film Music Critics Association.

Here are the categories for this year's Sammy Film Music Awards:







29th Annual Sammy Film Music Awards for 2016

selected by Roger Hall, Film Music Critic and Historian



Best New Film Score on CD

La La Land: Original Motion Picture Score

Music Score by Justin Hurwitz
(Interscope Records CD)


It is unfair to compare this film with vintage musicals. This is a contemporary story
with a contemporary jazz score by Justin Hurwitz that swings.

Amazing that this is only his second film score.
Classically trained, Justin Hurwitz, has composed a dynamic mix of romantic and rhythmic jazz music,
which reminds me of Michel Legrand's memorable film scores of the 1960s,

is a score that deserves repeated hearings.

My pick for the best track on the CD:
No. 27 - "Epilogue" - highlights the best film themes.

Hear this "Epilogue" on YouTube

This is a gem of a score and a real pick-you-upper!



Best New Film Song on CD


La La Land: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


"Another Day of Sun" from LA-LA LAND
music by Justin Hurwitz/ lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
(Interscope Records CD)

Many awards will go to the best known song, "City of Stars."
It's a good song and deserves to be recognized,
but unfortunately, it is weakly sung by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

For me, the opening song is the most effective in the film.
It lifted me right up in my comfortably plush movie theater chair recliner,
and made me want to get up and dance in the theater,
though I'd probably embarrass myself if I did that!

A true test of a song's worth is if you can still hear it in your head
after you hear it in the film or on the CD.

A very catchy melody with appropriately clever words to match
and a terrific opening number in the film.

Hear this song with lyrics on YouTube



Best Golden Age CD Release
(1930s - 1950s)


Music Score by Miklós Rózsa
(Prometheus Records - 2 CDs)

City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Nic Raine, Conductor

This greatest of the early Rózsa film scores, at the top of an Online web poll,
is given a first class production with 30 minutes of bonus music.
Includes an attractive 28 page booklet
with notes by Frank K. DeWald,
and Album Producer, James Fitzpatrick.
Executive Producer: Luc Van de Ven

See another recommended release of music by Miklós Rózsa:






Best Silver Age CD Release
(1960s - 1970s)

Music composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
(Intrada CD)

Executive Album Producers for Intrada: Douglass Fake and Roger Feigelson

One of Goldsmith's best scores,
featuring expanded music and the original 1974 album release.

This is a great soundtrack reissue.

See also another recommended release of music by Jerry Goldsmith:




Best Bronze Age CD Release
(1980s - 1990s)


The John Williams Jurassic Park Collection

JURASSIC PARK (1993) and THE LOST WORLD (1997) –
The John Williams Jurassic Park Collection
(La-La Land Records, 4 CDs)

I agree with my fellow film music critic, Steven Kennedy,
who picked this collection on his Best of the Year list.
These two film scores by John Williams, with over over 3 hours of music,
make an outstanding release and are worthy of special recognition.



Best TV Soundtrack Release


Downton Abbey - The Ultimate Collection [2 CD]

DOWNTON ABBEY - The Ultimate Collection
Music by John Lunn
(Decca, 2 CDs)


Though this excellent 2 CD collection was first released in 2015,
it was not widely available until 2016.

This is a wonderful collection of themes from the six seasons of
the widely acclaimed TV production.
The music is performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London,
Alastair King, conductor, with the composer at the piano.

Also includes a vocal version of the lovely TV series theme,
sung by Mary-Jess Leverland, and other vocals by Eurielle.
Why not also include the texts for these appealing vocals?

A wonderful musical remembrance of this superb TV series.



Best Multi-CD Collection Release

The Ten Commandments (6 CD Box Set)


6 CDs with Booklet in Slipcase
Music by Elmer Bernstein

Like the massive collection for SPARTACUS produced by Robert Townson,
which received a Sammy Film Music Award in 2011,
this is an impressive collection of all the music composed by Elmer Bernstein,
and released on the 60th anniversary of the film's release in 1956. It includes three separate albums
from different record labels released in 1957, 1960 and 1966.

But the 3 disc box set is the best of this collection, with all the music
composed for THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, even including Elmer Bernstein playing piano demos
on CD 3. The 6-CD set includes a colorful 60 page booklet with notes by Frank K. DeWald,
technical notes by Album Producer, Douglass Fake,
and comments by film composer, Elmer Bernstein.

This is a monumental film music restoration and
highly recommended for any film music lovers library.



Another impressive CD collection,
(with 12 CDs in a handsome slipcase),
conducted and produced by Elmer Bernstein,
received a Sammy Film Music Award in 2007.








Special Preservation Award
Best Album Producer



Luc Van de Ven,
Executive Producer, Prometheus Records


For many years, Luc Van de Ven from Belgium,
has been dedicated to producing and releasing older soundtracks.
He deserves to be thanked for providing film music lovers with
soundtracks not available elsewhere, including those
re-recorded by Album Producer, James Fitzpatrick
(a multiple Sammy Award recipient).






Sammy Lifetime Achievement Award
For a Past Composer or Songwriter


Since 1988, there have been 20 past American film composers/ arrangers and 8 songwriters and lyric writers named for this Lifetime Achievement Award, each of them have made significant accomplishments in film music.

The film composers and arrangers so far are (in the order of their listing):

Bernard Herrmann, Henry Mancini, Alfred Newman, Max Steiner, Miklós Rózsa, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Victor Young, Hugo Friedhofer, Johnny Green, Bronislau Kaper, Alex North, Elmer Bernstein,
Jerry Goldsmith, , Aaron Copland, John Barry, David Raksin, Jerome Moross, Roy Webb.

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

Sammy Cahn, Ken Darby, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, Johnny Mercer, James Van Heusen,
Harry Warren, Paul Francis Webster.

This year I'm selecting --

Leigh Adrian Harline (1907-1969)


A prolific composer and songwriter, Leigh Harline worked in feature films, movie short subjects,
and TV programs from the 1930s to 1960s.

He was especially active at the Walt Disney Studio in the 1930s and 1940s, where he worked with other composers and lyricists,
including Frank Churchill, Paul J. Smith, and Ned Washington.


Leigh Harline, Walt Disney, Frank Churchill


PINOCCHIO - Complete Soundtrack CD

Harline is believed to be the first composer to win an Oscar for both his score (PINOCCHIO, 1940), with some of the music provided by Paul J. Smith, who also received an Oscar, and also the classic song, "When You Wish Upon A Star" - lyrics by Ned Washington. I remember watching this animated film as a young boy and was thrilled and deeply moved when Cliff Edwards as "Jimminy Cricket" sang "When You Wish Upon A Star." This Oscar-winning song was used very effectively as an instrumental by the greatest film composer working today, John Williams,
in his monumental score for the sci-fi film, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977).

PINOCCHIO remains an all-time favorite Disney film for many and both the music score and songs are timeless.

Harline also worked on the score and songs for Walt Disney's first feature length animated film, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937) - with Frank Churchill and Larry Morey on the songs and with Paul J. Smith on the score.

Other film scores Harline composed include several westerns, like this one from 1954:




Leigh Harline may not be a household name to most movie fans,
but he deserve to be remembered for the quality film music he composed over many years.

See his extensive film credits, over 200 as composer, at IMDb

-- Roger Hall






Past Lifetime Achievement Awards



Paul Francis Webster (1907 – 1984)



Roy Webb (1888-1982)



Jerome Moross (1913-1983)


David Raksin, 1912-2004


John Barry (1933-2011)



Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Article: Aaron Copland Talks About Film Music


Ken Darby (1909-1992)

"River Of No Return" - Centennial Tribute to Ken Darby


Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004)



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



Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)

Article by Roger Hall:
Elmer Bernstein - The Magnificent One









"High Hopes" - Centennial Tribute to Sammy Cahn





The Sammy Film Music Awards (complete list)


For the 25th anniversary SFMA , see:

ASCAP Playback





If you have comments or questions, write to

The Sammy Film Music Awards







Are you a fan of classic film music?

Here are two multimedia DVDs playable on
any computer with a CD/DVD drive --


"As Time Goes By" - A Guide to Film Music




Music Masters -- Fifteen Film Composers







For questions or comments, write to:

The Sammy Film Music Awards





Sammy Film Music Awards (Home page)






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