Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The essence of my favorite music

This is going to be a long post, and it's going to ramble on about my favorite film scores for awhile, so if that's not your thing, feel free to click on to something else!

Ever try picking a single favorite soundtrack cue for each of your favorite film composers? Yeah. I guess I felt like a challenge today. Trying to choose only one is a form of torture, sure enough, but there's also something satisfying about it. Interestingly, my favorite individual cues are not from my favorite score by that same composer.

I've never done this on my journal before, but I've seen other blogs do this, so where available, I've included a link to the music.

  • Jerry Goldsmith - "Winter March" from Patton.
This one, amazingly enough, was relatively easy to choose. I think this has been my favorite single piece of music by him since I was in single-digits. Which, as Goldsmith is my favorite composer, also makes it my single favorite piece of music of all time. This cue, I believe, isn't even in the movie. I particularly love how it builds. I tried to find it online, but while the main theme from Patton is everywhere, I couldn't turn up this cue. Favorite score: The Wind and the Lion.

  • Elmer Bernstein - "Main Title" from The Bridge at Remagen.
Gee, you think I have a thing for military scores? Yeah, you'd be right. This theme I heard for the first time when I watched the movie, and I was in love on the spot. A day rarely goes by when I don't play it. And yeah, I do have a thing for counterpoint too. And minor keys. This one was also fairly easy to select. Favorite score is Big Jake. And the only reason my favorite cue isn't also from Big Jake is because I couldn't choose only one cue.

Jump to 5:40 on this one for the theme... there were a couple versions of just the theme but I disliked the orchestration in them. This is the version I like.


  • James Horner - "Genesis Countdown" from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Okay, Horner was damned near impossible to narrow down, but this cue features just about every element I love about Horner's music in one place, and it's been a favorite since I first saw the movie, so it's got longevity on its side! Horner's my go-to composer when I need an emotional fix. Favorite score is a toss-up between The Mask of Zorro and The Missing.



  • Basil Poledouris - "Nuclear Scam" from The Hunt for Red October.
This one was mostly easy (though the Battle Montage from Farewell to the King was a serious contender). But this cue has everything. Although this is also one that I cannot divorce from the movie, not that that's bad, it just gives me a slightly different listening experience. Favorite score is Flesh + Blood.


  • James Newton Howard - "Tarawa" from Snow Falling on Cedars.
Almost worse than Horner to narrow down to one cue. Couldn't decide between this cue or "Across the Desert" from Dinosaur or "The Hand of Fate" from Signs or several others. "Tarawa" won because I tend to beeline for it and it alone on its album, and because of the operatic quality of it. Favorite score is a toss up between King Kong and Dinosaur.


  • John Williams - "Desert Chase" from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
This cue represents John Williams at his action-packed best. Also impossible to listen to without seeing (and hearing every sound effect) from the movie. But as it's my favorite scene in the film, I don't mind. Favorite score The Empire Strikes Back.

  • Bruce Broughton - "Attempted Assassination/End Title" from Shadow Conspiracy.
This is one of those movies I refuse to see because I don't want the music ruined by images other than what's in my head, particularly the final cue. The main title is awesome too, but it's the final cue I play more than any others. Favorite score: True Women.


  • Bernard Hermann - Main Title from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
There is so much fabulous Hermann music, but this theme was always so romantic and beautiful and transported me to adventurous places I wanted to go. If you mention his name, it's usually the first music I start singing in my head, even over Hitchcock scores, etc. Favorite score: Mysterious Island.

  • John Barry - The Story Ends from Mercury Rising.
That distinctive quiet, pretty Barry style, but for some reason I particularly like this piece. I actually listen to this score a lot when I write, probably more than any other non-Bond Barry score, and I often put that last cue on repeat. Favorite score: You Only Live Twice.

  • Miklos Rozsa - Main Title from Double Indemnity.
Because there is no way on living earth I could choose one favorite theme from Ben-Hur. Or any of a dozen other scores, all different flavors, that he's written, from noir to epic. I love the main title from Double Indemnity particularly grabs me, with that slow almost funereal opening that slowly speeds up. Favorite score: Ben-Hur.

  • Frank deVol - "Gabriele's Death" from The Flight of the Phoenix.
This is one of those cues that never fails to make me tear up. Yeah, what's happening in the movie is sad, but that moment in the movie always got me because of the music, more than anything else. Favorite score: The Flight of the Phoenix. Hah! Finally got a match up of individual cue to favorite score!

  • Maurice Jarre - Main Title from Island at the Top of the World.
This score isn't even available in any recording as far as I know. It's probably at the top of my want list for unreleased music. I've always loved the music from this movie, particularly the main title. Jarre is an interesting composer to me. He's got a unique sound, and I usually have to be in a slightly quirky mood to enjoy most his scores. Favorite score... don't laugh, but Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I fricking love that score. Almost wore my LP out, once upon a time. That and my LP of Shogun.


  • Chris Young - Main Title from Jennifer 8
Ooh, this one always gives me shivers. So beautiful, so haunting. Favorite score: Jennifer 8.

3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Hey, this was great! I, too long to post about my never-ending love of film scores, but the interest just isn't there. :(

    Do you like the "other" Jerry--Jerry Fielding? I've become obsessed with his life and work this year--it only took me thirty years to finally become a fan!

    You did buy the new, remastered and complete STII, didn't you? If not, go here:

    http://www.screenarchives.com/

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  3. Yeah, I know... I mostly posted this for myself, so a year from now I can look back and say "you liked THAT cue best??"

    You know, I'm not familiar with Jerry Fielding at all. I mean, I note his name if I watch a film with one of his scores (ie: Wild Bunch), but so far, I haven't had any of the music leap out at me yet and demand I go buy it. Any recommendations? Which score of his first caught your attention?

    And yes, had to get the complete STII... no way I was going to pass that up. :-D

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