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Great Movie Scores

Updated on June 5, 2010
Great Theme Music
Great Theme Music

Great Theme Music

The movies appeal to our sense of sight with lights and imagery. They appeal to our sense of hearing with explosions and boom. Movies appeal to our hearts with dialogue and feeling. But all of senses and emotions are enhanced by beautifully written theme music. The following is a short list of the best movie theme songs.

Without the music, E.T. May Not Have Been Able To Go Home
Without the music, E.T. May Not Have Been Able To Go Home

E.T. The Extra terrestrial

E.T. the Extrea-Terrestrial was released in 1982 and tells the story of Elliott, a friendless boy who befriends an extra-terrestrial and helps him return home while keeping him safe from Elliott's mother and the government.

E.T. starred Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote.  It was directed by Steven Spielberg.   When released, ET was a huge hit and surpassed Stars Wars as the most successful film ever.  E.T. won four Oscars, including the Oscar for the best musical score by John Williams. 

E.T. was a wonderfully written movie.  The actors played the roles well, but it would not have tugged at the heartstrings without the music.  The best example of this is E.T.'s most famous scene, when Elliott and his friends are trying to get E.T. to the spaceship on their bikes, and to avoid the cops they all fly above the cars and into the sky.  Without the music, the scene would not be so well remembered. 

The Music In Star Wars Tells A Story Of Good Versus Evil
The Music In Star Wars Tells A Story Of Good Versus Evil

The Music Of The Dark Side

Star Wars

Star Wars was first released in 1977 with subsequent sequels and prequels released through 2005.  Star Wars tells the story of Luke Skywalker, a young man looking for more in the Universe.  When he stumbles upon two droids, and it triggers a message from Princess Leia and he seeks out Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke learns his true destiny.  He learns that he comes from a line of Jedi Knights.  He travels with Obi-Wan and begins to battle the Dark Side, led by Darth Vader.

The Score for all six movies was composed by John Williams

It Took Only Two Notes To Warn People That Jaws Was Coming
It Took Only Two Notes To Warn People That Jaws Was Coming


JAWS was released in 1975 and instantly became a classic. Directed by Steven Spielberg, JAWS was based on a best selling novel by Peter Benchley. JAWS tells the story of Amity Island, a small summer resort town. The town Sheriff tries to protect the summer beach-goers from a killer great white shark. The movie then tells the steps taken to kill the Great White. JAWS starred Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss,Robert Shaw and Lorraine Gary.

JAWS is regarded as the first "Summer Blockbuster" and due to its success changed the way studios released such movies. JAWS won three Oscars, including the Oscar for musical score. It was nominated for best picture but lost to The One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

JAWS provides the two most famous musical notes in movie history. The musical score was completed by John Williams, and the two note threatening music was his brainchild.

The Music From Psycho Is Just That Scary
The Music From Psycho Is Just That Scary


Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was released in 1960 and was based on the novel by Robert Bloch.  The film tells the story of a secretary who running from her employer after stealing money and ends up at the Bates Hotel, run by Norman Bates.  Norman Bates is an obviously lonely man who lives with his mother, or so we think.

Psycho originally was not well received by critics but did well at the box office, which prompted a re-review and led to four Academy Award nominations.  It won none.  Janet Leigh won a Golden Globe for her part.  Psycho starred Leigh, Anthony Perkins and Martin Balsam.

The score for Psycho was composed by Bernard Herrmann.  The most famous of this music was heard in what is known as the Shower Scene, where Leigh character is murdered.  In order to match Hitchcock's straight on shots and numerous cut away shots in the Shower Scene, Herrmann developed a soundtrack of screeching violins, violas and cellos.  The piece is called the Murder.  Originally, Hitchcock wanted the scene to have no music attached but after hearing Herrmann's work, agreed that it intesified the scene. 


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    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Totally agree Paddy. Too many to list here. But the great musical scores are remembered with the movies.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • PaddyMac1984 profile image

      Patrick McCormack 

      6 years ago from Nottingham, England

      Some great movies listed here. A good move theme stays with you and these films certainly do. There are so many though can be listed, with many from Ennio Morricone. Good Hub.

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I agree. Gone with the Wind almost made this little list after strong lobbying from my wife. Great music there.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Music sure makes an impact. Certain movies can just be mentioned and I automatically hear the music in my mind. I'm thinking especilly of To Kill a Mockingbird and Doctor Zhivago and Gone With the Wind, one could go on and on.

    • Elena. profile image


      9 years ago from Madrid

      Mouling Rouge? :-) Well, that whole script is a score in itself, literally :-)

    • Hawkesdream profile image


      9 years ago from Cornwall

      Could hear all of these scores without playing, some just stick. Movies themselves are enhanced with the addition of good music, giving atmosphere and suspense.


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