On Music: My Top 10 Favorite Movie Themes (Not Composed by John Williams)

This is a nice rendition of Elmer Bernstein’s Main Title from The Great Escape.

If you are a regular reader of A Certain Point of View, Too  or its Blogger antecedent, A Certain Point of View, or if you know me “in real life”, you’re probably aware that one of my favorite music genres is the symphonic film score. And although I didn’t start collecting movie soundtracks until I received the original 2-LP gatefold album for Star Wars 43 years ago, even as a young boy I paid attention to themes and action cues, starting with the first movie I remember watching in a theater – John Sturges’ The Great Escape – in Bogota, Colombia when I was six years old.

Now, John Williams – who will celebrate his 89th birthday on February 8 – is my favorite film composer of all time, but he is not the only one whose music for the movies I enjoy. Williams, after all, is like that great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, who once said about other discoverers before him, “I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” And as is his habit, the dean (or Jedi Master, if you will) admits with modesty that he follows a long line of film composers that includes such names as Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, and Miklós Rózsa.

Williams is also one of a core group of gifted composers who were roughly from the same generation and worked in the film industry in the late 20th Century and the first decade of the 21st: Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone, Michel Legrand, and Maurice Jarre contributed memorable scores to many well-known films from the late 1950s well into the 21st Century.

And, of course, there are younger composers, such as Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore and the late James Horner, who began writing great movie themes in the late 1970s and early 1980s and – with the sad exception of Horner, who died in a plane crash in 2015 – still have many great scores to write before they shuffle off this mortal coil and travel to that “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.”

Well, without further ado, here are my My Top 10 Favorite Movie Themes (Not Composed by John Williams)

  1. The Great Escape (1963), by Elmer Bernstein
  2. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), by Ennio Morricone
  3. A Bridge Too Far (1977), by John Addison
  4. Tara’s Theme from Gone With the Wind (1939), by Max Steiner[1]
  5. Main Title from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), by James Horner
  6. Theme from Summer of ’42 (1971), by Michel Legrand
  7. Overture from Lawrence of Arabia (1962), by Maurice Jarre
  8. The Shire from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), by Howard Shore
  9. Main Title from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), by Jerry Goldsmith
  10. All Systems Go – The Launch from Apollo 13 (1995), by James Horner
1, The Great Escape.
2, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
3. A Bridge Too Far
4. Tara’s Theme from Gone with the Wind
5. Theme from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
6. Main Title theme from Summer of ’42
7. Overture from Lawrence of Arabia
8. The Shire from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
10. All Systems Go – The Launch from Apollo 13

Bonus Track

And here’s an extra theme that you might enjoy…..

The Magnificent Seven (1960), by Elmer Bernstein

[1] This is a rare instance in which I love a piece of film music but loathe the film that it was written for.

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.

4 thoughts on “On Music: My Top 10 Favorite Movie Themes (Not Composed by John Williams)

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