Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I want to start a new feature on this blog that is akin to the You Tube Film Music Cue of the Day, in that it deals, once again, with one of the great passions of my life:  FILM MUSIC.

I have a huge document called My Top Scores List in which I have picked the Top 5 Film Scores for each year since 1980 along with some commentary on my choices.
You can imagine that by now the list is fairly long and contains a lot of info that I think is blog-worthy so I'm going to start publishing excerpts from the list right here on my blog.

without further ado
Here is the First Film Music Musings

I begin with the 1970s because that's when my consciousness and my movie-going experience begins.  This decade also contains my favorite score to my favorite movie of all time (funny how those two things coincide).

Best Scores of the 1970s

10. Alien - 1979
Weird music, atonality, unusual instruments and unique sounds. Its all here in this score. Jerry Goldsmith had been building to this score since Planet of the Apes in 1968. Its Goldsmith at his most esoteric for this creepy sci-fi/horror flick (one of the first times this genre had been exploited). Its influence is undeniable.

9. Murder on the Orient Express – 1974
Perhaps a last gasp of the silver age, Richard Rodney Bennet appears here because of this wonderful score. The embarking of the Orient Express is a masterpiece of scoring. A grand waltz of huge dimensions. But, there are also eerie moments as the child Daisy is kidnapped and as Poirot gives his famous summation. There is real structure in this score. This is a complete score that completes a great film.

8. The Omen - 1976
Jerry Goldsmith's only Oscar. And thank God its one of his best scores. Ave Satani is one of the creepiest songs for a film ever and with every note announces the coming of the AntiChrist. But, there is also tenderness here, the innocence of the Thorn family and especially the Lee Remick character and her love for her new child. And there is also some atonal writing here that fits in with Goldsmith's sound at this time and horror movies of the time. Lots of death, lots of desolation, lots of a really evil nanny, and lots of Goldsmith's music.

7. Patton - 1970
A character study in music. This one plays out like a symphonic poem with glory and mysticism, which is who Patton was. And echo-plexed trumpets. Only Goldsmith could come up with something like that. This score should have been Goldsmith's first Academy Award, but alas the misguided Academy. A carefully spotted, well-conceived and executed score.

6. Dracula - 1979
John Williams defines an icon yet again. He did it with Superman and now he does it with the Prince of Darkness. Dracula never looked or sounded as good as he did in this movie. Not a great movie but photographed incredibly well and scored to near perfection. Evil elegance and dark seduction are the moods of this score and John Williams is there with both. The Main title is riveting. An underated score in Williams canon that is one of the best of the decade.

5. The Godfather - 1972
Nino Rota got robbed!!!! This score should have been a shoe-in for the Academy Award in '72, but instead the Academy disqualified it. Come ON!!!! It is simply one of the great ethnic scores of all time (maybe the best). The Godfather Waltz is now classic and recognized the world over. Now, of course, it helps that the movie is one of the greatest ever, but give the music its due. It exactly captures the time period and the characters. A score you can't refuse.

4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture - 1979
It is a tragic history that Goldsmith did not win the Academy Award for this score (in fact he should have won for Patton in 1970, Omen for 1976, and this one for a total of three in the 70s). The main title is incredible, the jaunty Klingon music is fitting, but what really does it for this score is The Enterprise cue. Nothing but viewing the ship and Goldsmtih's music. Amazing!!!!! There is more music such as Ilia's Theme and the V'ger music utilizing the blaster beam and it all comes together for Goldsmith in this score (just as Alien is the pinnacle of his atonal writing, this one is the pinnacle of his tonal scores such as The Wind and the Lion).

3. Superman - 1978
An icon is born onscreen and John Williams is there to provide the music. It all begins with a stirring fanfare that is instantly a classic. It proceeds to a far-away planet with more majestic music. Then to Earth with some down home Copland Americana. And then to the fortress with a reprise of the Krypton-like music and then to the big city for adventures, conflicts, love, tragedy and triumph as the hero saves the planet from evil. A truly epoch-making score (some say Williams best, I prefer #1 on my list). Can you read my mind? It's saying that this is one of the greatest scores ever.

2. Jaws - 1975
The single most effective musical motive ever in one of the greatest scores (for a long time I thought that this one had to be the greatest score ever, but I have since changed my mind). No one would swim at the beach the same way again (I know I never did). But the chase music in this score is also great as the three would-be heroes chase and are chased by the shark. There is eerie music here also, music to scare you or just generally unnerve you. Effective and perfectly placed is this score. Oh, did I mention that famous motive?

1. Star Wars - 1977
What needs to be said? The greatest score for a movie ever. My all-time favorite in my all-time favorite movie. At a time when directors and producers were turning to songs, John Williams turns the tables on the scoring universe with a score that is direct from the past and perfect for all time. The style is Korngold but the artistry is pure Williams. The Main Title is beyond words. The Force Theme is elegaic. The Tie Fighter Battle is inspired. And finally, The Throne Room Theme is a conclusion for the history books. A huge amount of music with every note perfect (not even Gone With the Wind can match that). Quite simply, John Williams made history with this score. What needs to be said? The greatest score for a movie ever.

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