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FLICK PICKS: Top soundtracks ever
January 28, 2010  | By Diane Werts
psycho janet leigh music.jpg

The stabbing violins of Psycho? The signature songs of The Graduate and Saturday Night Fever? The eerie woo-woo-woo-woo-woo of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? The thumping funk of Shaft?

They're all in the new list of 15 Most Influential Soundtracks chosen by Turner Classic Movies in connection with Sunday's Grammy Awards.

It's interesting how many of the picks come from movies released in the '60s and '70s. Maybe that's because the studio system was dying, and filmmakers found a new freedom to play with audio aesthetics as well as visual dynamics and mature content. That era certainly offers a rich mix -- some of the TCM-cited sounds are orchestral, some rock out, and others flash back to find fresh uses for both classical masterpieces and vintage pop songs.

What's also intriguing is that the list only covers a span of 45 years (1932-1977). There wasn't much movie music before that, since silents only started giving way to talk in 1927. But you'd think some scores in the last three decades would have made their mark.

south park movie score.jpg

Then again, it's hard to think of any. Maybe Randy Newman's The Natural score? Prince's Purple Rain songs? The retro rock of The Big Chill? But how influential were they? Slumdog Millionaire's Bollywood breakthrough only matters if someone follows the trail it blazed. (Thus disqualified is the deliriously creative song score of South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut.)

Here are TCM's 15 picks (read more about the scores here) --

--- King Kong (1933) -- Composer: Max Steiner
--- Alexander Nevsky (1938) -- Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
--- The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) -- Composer: Bernard Herrmann
--- Blackboard Jungle (1955) -- Music Adaptor: Charles Wolcott
--- The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) -- Composer: Elmer Bernstein
--- Psycho (1960) -- Composer: Bernard Herrmann
--- A Hard Day's Night (1964) -- Musical Director: George Martin; Songs: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
--- Goldfinger (1964) -- Composer: John Barry
--- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) -- Composer: Ennio Morricone
--- The Graduate (1967) -- Composer: Dave Grusin; Songs: Paul Simon
--- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -- Musical Consultant: Patrick Moore; Music Editor: Frank J. Urioste
--- Shaft (1971) -- Composers: Isaac Hayes and J.J. Johnson
--- American Graffiti (1973) -- Music Coordinator: Karin Green
--- Saturday Night Fever (1977) -- Composers: Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb and David Shire
--- Star Wars (1977) -- Composer: John Williams




Phil Jones said:

"Dances With Wolves" John Barry

Lee Hartsfeld said:

"Street Scene" (1931)--Alfred Newman

OttoMann said:

Great selections.

I would also add "A Clockwork Orange." The electronic score was one of the first, and certainly influential. (I forget his/her name: Wendy something?)

And for soundtracks using contemporary music: "Easy Rider."

Patrick said:

I nominate Jerry Goldsmith's score for 1979's "Star Trek-The Motion Picture." It's one of his best, from one of film's best composers ever. Especially his masterful suite when Scotty reveals the new "Enterprise" to Admiral Kirk. No less an expert than the film's director Robert Wise kept that sequence intact on the film's "Director's Edition" DVD release as he loved that piece of music so much.
"The Big Chill" was a landmark movie in 1983 that's all but forgotten today. Sony didn't even bother with a special 25th anniversary DVD in 2008. And, it's being targeted for a (yecch!!) remake. Heresy.

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