101 Film Score Milestones
(1933 - 2001)

by Film Comment Magazine


Film Score Milestones: This Essential List of 101 Great Film Score Milestones (in chronological order) from 1933-2001 was compiled by John Caps, in the November-December 2003 issue of Film Comment magazine in an article titled "Soundtracks 101 – Essential Movie Music: A Listener's Guide." The article also provided a brief history of film music in the introduction, and further details on each of the choices.

Facts and Commentary About the List:

  • The list was created to mark the 70th anniversary of the film score in 2003.
  • The list consisted of composed instrumental film scores (whether symphonic or electronic, classical or pop in style), not film musicals or song scores, from American and British films (English-language films).
  • These were films from the talkie era onwards (and recognizing that silent films were never silent).
  • The quality of a film often has nothing to do with the rating of its film score, e.g., Taras Bulba (1962, Waxman).
  • According to the author, the list was "representative rather than exhaustive; all of the scores in the list "contribute something memorable, something personal, to their films - and communicate one step further to us as music."
  • Predictably, one-fourth of the list was taken by the six giants of the Golden Age (Steiner, Waxman, Korngold, Newman, Rozsa, Herrmann). Yet the author also recognized some of the great, but seemingly forgotten, figures of the recent past: Laurence Rosenthal, Richard Rodney Bennett, Dave Grusin, David Shire, and Basil Poledouris.

For further reference, see Entertainment Weekly's definitive list of movie music, 100 Best Movie Soundtracks - dubbed their "guide to the movie soundtracks that move us most." Or see AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs.

Note: The films that are marked with a yellow star are the films that "The Greatest Films" site has selected as the "100 Greatest Films"


101 Film Score Milestones
(1933 - 2001)

by Film Comment Magazine

1. King Kong (1933, Max Steiner)
2. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, Franz Waxman)
3. The Informer (1935, Steiner)
4. Things to Come (1936, Arthur Bliss)
5. The Prince and the Pauper (1937, Erich Wolfgang Korngold)
6. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, Korngold)
7. Gone With the Wind (1939, Steiner)
8. Son of Frankenstein (1939, Frank Skinner)
9. Of Mice and Men (1939, Aaron Copland)
10. The Sea Hawk (1940, Korngold)
11. Rebecca (1940, Waxman)
12. How Green Was My Valley (1941, Alfred Newman)
13. First of the Few (1942, William Walton)
14. The Jungle Book (1942, Miklos Rozsa)
15. All That Money Can Buy (1942, Bernard Herrmann)
16. The Song of Bernadette (1943, Newman)
17. The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944, Steiner)
18. Laura (1944, David Raksin)
19. Double Indemnity (1944, Rozsa)
20. Henry V (1945, Walton)
21. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, Hugo Friedhofer)
22. Captain From Castile (1947, Newman)
23. Forever Amber (1947, Raksin)
24. Green Dolphin Street (1948, Bronislau Kaper)
25. Odd Man Out (1947, William Alwyn)
26. Johnny Belinda (1948, Steiner)
27. Louisiana Story (1948, Virgil Thomson)
28. Oliver Twist (1948, Arnold Bax)
29. Scott of the Antarctic (1948, Ralph Vaughan Williams)
30. Madame Bovary (1949, Rozsa)
31. The Red Pony (1949, Copland)
32. Sunset Boulevard (1950, Waxman)
33. Night and the City (1950, Waxman)
34. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951, Alex North)
35. Death of a Salesman (1951, North)
36. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, Herrmann)
37. High Noon (1952, Dimitri Tiomkin)
38. Viva Zapata (1952, North)
39. On Dangerous Ground (1952, Herrmann)
40. On the Waterfront (1954, Leonard Bernstein)
41. The Cobweb (1955, Leonard Rosenman)
42. The Man With the Golden Arm (1955, Elmer Bernstein)
43. Rebel Without a Cause (1955, Rosenman)
44. Around the World in 80 Days (1956, Victor Young)
45. Auntie Mame (1958, Kaper)
46. Bell, Book and Candle (1958, George Duning)
47. The Big Country (1958, Jerome Moross)
48. Vertigo (1958, Herrmann)
49. Ben-Hur (1959, Rozsa)
50. The Magnificent Seven (1960, E. Bernstein)
51. Psycho (1960, Herrmann)
52. Lawrence of Arabia (1962, Maurice Jarre)
53. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, E. Bernstein)
54. The Miracle Worker (1962, Laurence Rosenthal)
55. Taras Bulba (1962, Waxman)
56. The Cardinal (1963, Moross)
57. Tom Jones (1963, John Addison)
58. A Shot in the Dark (1964, Henry Mancini)
59. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1964, Ernest Gold)
60. Goldfinger (1964, John Barry)
61. A Patch of Blue (1965, Jerry Goldsmith)
62. Cool Hand Luke (1966, Lalo Schifrin)
63. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, Ennio Morricone)
64. In Cold Blood (1967, Quincy Jones)
65. Far From the Madding Crowd (1967, Richard Rodney Bennett)
66. Two for the Road (1967, Mancini)
67. Wait Until Dark (1967, Mancini)
68. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968, Dave Grusin)
69. Planet of the Apes (1968, Goldsmith)
70. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968, Michel Legrand)
71. The Reivers (1969, John Williams)
72. The Wild Bunch (1969, Jerry Fielding)
73. The Last Valley (1971, Barry)
74. Lady Caroline Lamb (1972, Bennett)
75. The Three Musketeers (1973, Legrand)
76. Chinatown (1974, Goldsmith)
77. The Conversation (1974, David Shire)
78. Jaws (1975, John Williams)
79. The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976, Rosenthal)
80. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976, Addison)
81. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, Williams)
82. Islands in the Stream (1977, Goldsmith)
83. The Stunt Man (1978, Dominic Frontiere)
84. Tess (1979, Philippe Sarde)
85. Altered States (1980, John Corigliano)
86. Gloria (1980, Bill Conti)
87. My Bodyguard (1980, Grusin)
88. Wolfen (1981, James Horner)
89. Conan the Barbarian (1982, Basil Poledouris)
90. E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Williams)
91. Return to Oz (1985, Shire)
92. The Mission (1986, Morricone)
93. Batman (1989, Danny Elfman)
94. Queen of Hearts (1989, Michael Convertino)
95. The Grifters (1990, E. Bernstein)
96. Basic Instinct (1992, Goldsmith)
97. Bed and Breakfast (1992, Shire)
98. Much Ado About Nothing (1993, Patrick Doyle)
99. Angela's Ashes (1999, Williams)
100. The Horse Whisperer (1999, Thomas Newman)
101. Waking Life (2001, Glover Gill)



Previous Page Next Page