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AFI's Final Score

30 Sep, 2005 By: John Latchem



The American Film Institute (AFI) unveiled its list of the top 25 film musical scores of all time during a special concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles Sept. 23.

A jury of more than 500 film artists, composers, musicians, critics and historians was empaneled to recognize the significant role music contributes toward the success of a film.

The good news for film fans is that most of the honorees are currently available on DVD, almost all in deluxe special edition sets.

John Williams' score for the original “Star Wars,” and indeed the entire series, was recognized as the most memorable score of all time. Williams won an Academy Award, among a slew of honors, for his work on George Lucas' space epic in 1977.

Punctuated by its memorable main theme and brilliant use of sub-themes (known as leitmotif), Star Wars' bombastic Wagnerian chords reinvigorated the concept of the orchestral movie score and set a tone that would be emulated for the next 30 years. While Episode IV earned the specific honor from AFI, all the “Star Wars” films are available on DVD, with the saga's concluding chapter, Episode III, arriving Nov. 1 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Star Wars: A Musical Journey, a DVD containing music videos and clips from all six “Star Wars” movies, is available with the Sony Classical release of the Episode III soundtrack.

Williams was the most honored composer of the night, landing three scores on the list, two in the top 10. Jaws, recently released as a 30th Anniversary Edition DVD from Universal, placed sixth, while E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, also from Universal, earned the 14th spot.

Max Steiner's score for Gone With the Wind, highlighted by its triumphant “Tara's Theme,” came in second. Warner Home Video released a four-DVD collector's set of the film last year.

Other films on the list to receive the recent special edition DVD treatment are No. 17, Universal's To Kill a Mockingbird, and No. 21, Warner's Ben-Hur.

The only film on the list not to have been released on DVD is No. 13, the 1933 original version of King Kong, which Warner is bringing to shelves in special collector's sets Nov. 22.


AFI's Top Musical Scores on DVD

  • No. 1: Star Wars (1977); Composer: John Williams; Latest DVD Release: Sept. 2004 (Re-release Dec. 6, 2005); Distributor: Fox

  • No. 2: Gone With The Wind (1939); Composer: Max Steiner; Latest DVD Release: Nov. 2004; Distributor: Warner

  • No. 3: Lawrence Of Arabia (1962); Composer: Maurice Jarre; Latest DVD Release: Aug. 2005; Distributor: Sony

  • No. 4: Psycho (1960); Composer: Bernard Herrmann; Latest DVD Release: Sept. 2003; Distributor: Universal

  • No. 5: The Godfather (1972); Composer: Nino Rota; Latest DVD Release: May 2004; Distributor: Paramount

  • No. 6: Jaws (1975); Composer: John Williams; Latest DVD Release: June 2005; Distributor: Universal

  • No. 7: Laura (1944); Composer: David Raksin; Latest DVD Release: March 2005; Distributor: Fox

  • No. 8: The Magnificent Seven (1960); Composer: Elmer Bernstein; Latest DVD Release: May 2001; Distributor: Sony

  • No. 9: Chinatown (1974); Composer: Jerry Goldsmith; Latest DVD Release: Aug. 2005; Distributor: Paramount

  • No. 10: High Noon (1952); Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin; Latest DVD Release: Feb. 2004; Distributor: Lions Gate

  • No. 11: The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938); Composer: Eric Wolfgang Korngold; Latest DVD Release: Sept. 2003; Distributor: Warner

  • No. 12: Vertigo (1958); Composer: Bernard Herrmann; Latest DVD Release: Sept. 2003; Distributor: Universal

  • No. 13: King Kong (1933); Composer: Max Steiner; Latest DVD Release: Nov. 22, 2005; Distributor: Warner

  • No. 14: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982); Composer: John Williams; Latest DVD Release: Aug. 2005; Distributor: Universal

  • No. 15: Out Of Africa (1985); Composer: John Barry; Latest DVD Release: March 2003; Distributor: Universal

  • No. 16: Sunset Blvd. (1950); Composer: Franz Waxman; Latest DVD Release: March 2004; Distributor: Paramount

  • No. 17: To Kill A Mockingbird (1962); Composer: Elmer Bernstein; Latest DVD Release: Sept. 2005; Distributor: Universal

  • No. 18: Planet Of The Apes (1968); Composer: Jerry Goldsmith; Latest DVD Release: Feb. 2004; Distributor: Fox

  • No. 19: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951); Composer: Alex North; Latest DVD Release: July 2005; Distributor: Warner

  • No. 20: The Pink Panther (1964); Composer: Henry Mancini; Latest DVD Release: April 2004; Distributor: Sony

  • No. 21: Ben-Hur (1959); Composer: Miklos Rozsa; Latest DVD Release: Sept. 2005; Distributor: Warner

  • No. 22: On The Waterfront (1954); Composer: Leonard Bernstein; Latest DVD Release: Oct. 2001; Distributor: Sony

  • No. 23: The Mission (1986); Composer: Ennio Morricone; Latest DVD Release: May 2003; Distributor: Warner

  • No. 24: On Golden Pond (1981); Composer: Dave Grusin; Latest DVD Release: Dec. 2003; Distributor: Lions Gate

  • No. 25: How The West Was Won (1962); Composer: Alfred Newman; Latest DVD Release: May 2004; Distributor: Warner

  • Source: Home Media Research, AFI.com

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