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AFI now votes for 25 All-Time Greatest Scores


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Being a card-carrying member-(1992-) though due to $$$ at lowest-level. I still get some great jazz though. Though I was a bit angry when I had to find out about this newest poll of the American Film Institute-(est: 1967-)

To not confuse most, it's not-(THOUGH IT SHOULD BE!) among it's now too-many annual specials, like the upcoming: "AFI's 100yrs...100 Cheers"-(which are done in "The Kodak Theater") & I have a friend, of very often says he doesn't pay atten. to the music? Something I personally cannot fathom & just imagine movies without that aspect-(& I'm not talking about songs Which given these past Oscars & it's winner for B. 0riginal Song, is as if most of the voters have been smoking something, other then cigs, nowadays???)


This one came out of nowhere though & for entire list, go to www.afi.com


I couldn't help but find-it ironic, when I logged-on to TCM & having *Bernard Herrmann-(1911-75) on it's superbly crafted home pg!-(AMPAS TRIVIA: Another of the all-time best composers, that only was awarded 1 Oscar, for a film this station never airs? 1941's "All That Money Can Buy?"-(who has seen this picture by the way?)


Anyway, here is only it's overall top 10-(I made a print out of the 25 & forwarded the story onto many on here as well. Hope you folks got-it? Please let me know

I know colleagues such as Mr. George Burdell, can use it for his 4 sar website!):


1st place winner as best score ever composed-(*-denotes Oscar winner):

"Star Wars" (1977) (Fox) (C-John Williams*)

2. *"Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) (Columbia) (C-Maurice Jarre*)

3. *"GWTW" (1939) (M-G-M/Selznick) (C-Max Steiner.)-(P.S. Don't know about you fans, but *Steiner is thee greatest ever in my book! Starting at RKO & then of course going to WB's & either composing for the likes of: *B. Davis, or "Gangsterland"-(*Cagney, *Bogie, Edward G. & Raft) & though *Alfred Newman-(1901-70) of "The Newman Dynasty"-(*Randy, Thomas & David) holds AMPAS record for most victories-(9) & *Max-(1888-1971) only took home 3. His massive career spans a lot more work!)

4. "Psycho" (1960) (Paramount) (B. Herrmann)

5. *"The Godfather" (1972) (Par.) (C-Carmine Coppola & Nino Rota)-(This now legendary music was deemed ineligible to qualify for "The Golden Boy" The uptight Academy, said it was used-(or portions of-it) in an earlier Italian film)

6. "Jaws" (1975) (Universal) (C-John Williams*)-(thee movie that literally changed summer & the cinema!)

7. "Laura" (1944) (Fox) (C-Davd Raskin)-(Many were furious when this was not even in the race that yr. Among Mr. 0sborne's favourite films!)

8. "The Magnificent 7" (1960) (UA) (C-Elmer Bernstein)

9. "Chinatown" (l974) (Paramount) (C-Jerry Goldsmith)

10th place of 25: "High Noon" (1952) (UA) (C-Dimitri Tiomkin*)


I know many have big splits here & I am with you.


Among them & even it's co-star: James Woods said on a special on the yet to even "score" an Oscar>Ennio Morricone-(1928-)-(he is listed for 1986's "The Mission" at least.)

The phenomenal & majestic music he did for both: "0nce Upon a Time in the West" (1969) & "America" (1984) are my own personal favs. & though it's among these. *John Barry's-(1933-) utterly beautiful work for *"0ut of Africa" (1985)-(& who agrees that it's very similiar to his own: "Somewhere in Time" (1980)?

I & others-(critic for "EW") think it deserved a higher ranking.


A smart movie buff of only Hollywoods Golden Age/Studio-System-(1925-60)-(Elizabeth of reelclassics.com)

May have summed it up, when she said AFI likely doesn' t have the rights to these scores & that is why they have not made this it's next "100yrs special"


Thank You & give your own favs/soundtracks



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These 'Top Ten' or 'Top One hundred' lists are always amusing and rather meaningless. Once you get over the fact that its all a matter of opinion, judgment, and personal taste, (and agenda ?) and that everybody's list will be different, you become less offended when your own personal favorites don't make someone elses list. We can all take a 'Top One hundred' list and shuffle it and edit it to our own satisfaction.


I remember the year that Randy Newman did'nt win the oscar for his superb music for 'The Natural', I was miffed. Then he gets an oscar a few years later for some cheesy song from a kids movie. It's like the only time I got a speeding ticket was the one damn time I was'nt speeding. A kind of justice I suppose. Bring on the lists, I can take it now.



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Music may be more opinion based than any other list they have compiled. So here's mine. While "Star Wars" is a really good score it wouldn't be my top choice. This is from a purely musical standpoint. Its best quality, as it should be with film scores, is how well it fits the movie. This one does. As does "The Magnificent Seven" and "Psycho". The rest of the list is hard to argue with. I'm with you on John Barry. He is my favorite composer. (Check out his CD "Moviola")


The thing I've always admired about composers like Young and Newman and Tiomkin and Steiner, and Goldsmith, etc. is the amount of music they wrote. When you think how much music is needed in a film and how many great scores they wrote it's an amazing gift. Unlike most composers film composers have to fit or fill a certain time frame, write to a certain mood or event. To do this and still be able to express themselves requires a unique talent and discipline.

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can agree with their choice of GWTW, Magnificent Seven, and Star Wars but these are ones I still hold among the greatest:


(not in any order)

On the Waterfront (1954) Leonard Bernstein

Ben-Hur (1959) Miklos Rozsa

Kings Row (1941) Erich Wolfgang Korngold

The Wind and the Lion (1975) Jerry Goldsmith

Captain from Castile (1947) Alfred Newman

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Alex North

A Nun?s Story (1959) Franz Waxman

North by Northwest (1959) Bernard Herrmann

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Bernard Herrmann is (justly) famous for his scores to Hitchcock movies. One movie he scored that is rarely mentioned is "Taxi Driver". I saw "Taxi Driver", first run, theatrically and I remember being very impressed with the music. At that time (1976), I did not know anything about the music of Bernard Herrmann.


One other. Alex North's score to "Spartacus" is great.


One other comment. Leonard Bernstein was one terrific conductor--I have several CDs of Bernstein conducting various orchestras. Man...that guy had could wring every bit of emotion out of a piece of music.



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Was glad to see my favorite film composer Max Steiner on the Top 25 list with "Gone With the Wind" (should have been #1), and with "King Kong" (1933). Was surprised his score for "Now, Voyager" didn't make it.

Also couldn't believe that Aaron Copland's score for "The Heiress" was ignored, although it was among the 250 nominees, as was other favorites of mine.

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I agree with you about Taxi Driver. Very powerful score emotionally. He died before the film was released and they added a credit at the end acknowledging him.


I love Spartacus, too. Especially the tender love theme. If you like North, check out his Rich Man Poor Man soundtrack. Excellent work. And though the Righteous Brothers are what people think of when they hear the song, Unchained Melody, the music is by North for his film of the same name.


My two favorite composers have been Miklos Rozsa and Alfred Newman. if you haven't been exposed to their music, there are a number of soundtrack albums out there by them. For Rozsa, his career encompassed everything from The Thief of Bagdad to Double Indemnity to Ben-Hur (his greatest score) to ... well, the list goes on and on. Alfred Newman was basically the head composer at 20th Century Fox. Great scores include The Mark of Zorro and Captain from Castile. You can also see him conducting the orchestra in the suite "Street Scene" at the beginning of the film "How to Marry A Millionaire".

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Max Steiner was probably the best composer of Wall-To-Wall soundtracks. Particularly during the 1940's composers had to supply a soundtrack that accompanied every move, every gesture, every word spoken by the actors. I don't know how Max Steiner did it, it must have been murder writng a score like this.


My favorite quote about Max Steiner is from Bette Davis when she was making the movie 'Dark Victory' she enquired of the director whether it would be her or Max Steiner going up the stairs to die.



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Elmer Bernstein, Ennio Morricone (it is crime that this man has not an Oscar) and Jerry Goldsmith are my faves for 1960s onward.


Early days Max Steiner and Erich Von Korngold.


Now Voyager is a great score.

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