On Music: My 10 Favorite Non-Star Wars Themes by John Williams

My #1 Choice: Superman: The Movie is the first film I ever went to see just because John Williams wrote the score. Thankfully, Richard Donner’s 1978 adaptation of the DC Comics superhero was pretty damn good.

I have been a fan of composer/conductor John Williams since I first watched Star Wars in a crowded theater in October of 1977 at the Concord Mall in South Florida. I didn’t know it at the time – I was a 14-year-old at the time and rarely paid attention to the “Music by” credits in any movie – but I had already heard Williams’ music before – either in theatrical films such as Midway (1976) or on reruns of Lost in Space and Land of the Giants on TV.  So consciously or not, Williams’ music was part of the soundtrack of my life way before I was consciously aware of the composer’s existence.

Like many Star Wars fans – not all, but many – I thought (and still do!) that Williams’ Academy Award-winning score was one of the finest elements of George Lucas’s space fantasy. I asked for – and received – the original 2-LP original soundtrack album from Star Wars for my 15th birthday, so for the past 43 years I’ve owned different variants of Williams’ score in various formats, including vinyl, eight-track tape, cassette tape, compact disc, and – more recently – digital.    

It goes without saying that Maestro Williams’ score for Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) is my all-time favorite, and that by extension I also love his scores for the other eight Episodes of the Skywalker Saga.

However, Williams, who will celebrate his 89th birthday on February 8, has composed 108 film scores, starting with Daddy-O in 1958 and on to the 2020s with scores for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I have, of course, not heard them all, and I probably won’t either, but I have heard many of them, especially in films by his long-time collaborator and friend, Steven Spielberg.

Here, without further ado, are my 10 Favorite Non-Star Wars themes by the five-time Academy Award-winning composer, Maestro John Towner Williams, ranked in order of preference.

  1. Superman: The Movie (1978)

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (aka Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) (1981)

Here’s a performance of the Raiders March by the Boston Pops Orchestra.

3. Love Theme from Superman (1978)

While I hate the version with lyrics used in The Flying Sequence in Superman, I am a huge fan of the Love Theme.

4. Jaws: Out to Sea/Shark Cage Fugue (1975)

5. A.I. Artificial Intelligence: Where Dreams Are Born (2001)

6. Marion’s Theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

7. Midway Victory March from Midway (1976)

The movie is not good, but Williams’ March is one of my favorite non-Star Wars themes by the five-time Oscar winner.

8. Prologue from JFK (1991)

I don’t care for Oliver Stone’s conspiracy film, but Williams’ score for JFK is powerful and moving.

9. Hymn to the Fallen from Saving Private Ryan (1998)

10. Theme from Schindler’s List (1993)

I actually have the John Williams: A Celebration Blu-ray that this video is from!

Well, there you have it – my 10 Favorite Non-Star Wars Themes by John Williams. I hope you take some time to listen to them and enjoy the music. Which ones do you like? And if you were making your own list, which non-Star Wars themes would you pick? Let me know in the Comments section below!

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

2 thoughts on “On Music: My 10 Favorite Non-Star Wars Themes by John Williams

  1. The Superman soundtrack is my favorite, I especially like “The Planet Krypton” and “The Destruction of Krypton.” There’s an excellent podcast you may be familiar with, “The Baton: A John Williams Musical Journey” that goes through his entire career. Highly Recommended.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that of all of John Williams’ non-Star Wars scores, the one from Superman is also my favorite.

      So much so, in fact, that I bought the Limited Edition 40th Anniversary 3-disc set of the Superman: The Movie soundtrack, even though I already own the 2000 Warner Bros. 2-CD set.

      Re the podcast: Thanks for the tip! I wasn’t aware of that one. I will definitely have to listen to it.

      Liked by 2 people

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