Vic’s Top 5: Favorite Movie Scores by John Williams

Here are my Top 5 Favorite John Williams Film Scores.  Enjoy.

No. 5  – The Fury (1978)

Directed by Brian De Palma

The main title to De Palma’s wonderfully over the top  film is a fantastic example of how Williams can use a musical piece that sounds much like a waltz and fuse it into a horror score. There is a brilliant opening where it starts peacefully and serenely then builds into a classic explosion of bombast only Williams can supply. At times it sounds almost like a precursor to some of the work he will later do in Raiders of the Lost Ark. One of my favorite scores by Williams and greatly under-appreciated.

No. 4 – Dracula (1979)

Directed by John Badham

Another horror film score by Williams. Greatly gothic and daring, this score is just insanely captivating and precisely what Badham’s vision of the famous bloodsucker ordered. It is grand, sweeping and very engaging. His use of the hypnotic strings and horns in the main suite is completely immersive and places us within a very palpable and frightening canvas of terror. Williams seems to be channeling James Bernard of Hammer Films at times. Highly recommended.

No. 3 – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Directed by Irvin Kershner

Was it possible to improve on the vastly popular and ground-breaking Star Wars – A New Hope score? Hell yes, it was and with just the iconic “Imperial March” John Williams transcended the previous effort. It is a deeply personal favorite of mine.

It resonates on so many levels. We get “Yoda’s Theme,” “The Cloud City” and “Hyperspace” and so many other tracks that move the story forward and makes us associate dearly with characters we love and hate within the Star Wars universe. It is simply magical and a work of art for the ears and heart.  Here is another favorite track of mine from “Empire” –  “The Asteroid Field!” Enjoy.

No. 2 – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

An instantaneously recognizable score that is wildly energetic and fun. I can never just start the score and stop it midway. It is much like the story of Indy and his adventure during his quest for the fabled Lost Ark of the Covenant. You have to take the journey and this is a fantastical world that Williams transports us to.

“The Desert Chase” remains, hands down, the most bad ass track of this grand score by Williams. Every time I hear that track on my iPod, I’m transported to a palatial movie theater in the Bronx where I get to relive it in all it’s sweeping glory.

No. 1 – Jaws (1975)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

I don’t really need to explain why this is my favorite all time John Williams score do I? I didn’t think so. I will let the brilliantly scary and profound score speak for itself. From 1975, this score changed just about everything that involved how a musical piece should accompany a film and even become part of the film’s story and become it’s heartbeat.

This score is almost a cast member. A perfect blend of terror and adventure on the high seas, so to speak. I love it and appreciate it’s complexity and it’s bold and primal perfection. An absolutely wonderful score that will stand for the ages. Plus, it always scares the shit outta me.

Honorable Mention –

Jaws 2

JFK

Superman The Movie

Jurassic Park

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The Towering Inferno

Sound off gang with your favorite John Williams scores!

Victor

14 comments

  1. Great post. I really need to do something like this (I say that a lot and never follow through lol).

    Jaws is a masterpiece of a score. Brilliant I also loved Superman.

    Not sure if I have a favorite composer, but if I had to pick it would probably be Claudio Simonetti. He’s great on his own and with Goblin. Claudio and or Goblin composed the bulk of Dario Argento’s movies. Goblin without Claudio is ok.

    If you get a chance search on YouTube for the Halloween score by Claudio. Starts off ok then gets amazing!! Just as good as Carpenter’s. There was a version but it’s not longer up now a live version. But yeah Williams is a great composer, but I’m more into the European scores in general.

    • I’ve heard of Goblin! They did Dawn of the Dead correct? Was that with Claudio? I’ll search for the YouTube vid of Halloween. Gotta hear that. I’m thinking of doing another top 5 for Jerry Goldsmith and James Newton Howard as well. But first I may do John Carpenter scores. That will be a blast to do.

  2. Yes Goblin scored Dawn of the Dead. Well some of it. Some of it was Goblin and some were public domain tracks. And yes I do believe Caludio was still part of Goblin when Dawn was scored. The following year 1979 Goblin scored Beyond the Darkness, which was great, but without Claudio.

    But any score by Goblin in an Argento movie Claudio was with them and scored many of Dario Argento’s films on his own.

    Carpenter would be a great choice. Love his work as well. All his music is great. The Films he directed, but didn’t compose just not the same. Except the Thing. Morricone is great.

    As for Halloween. I’m not sure if it was Claudio only or with Goblin. I think they also covered the Exorcist as well.

    • The Exorcist too? Cool, gotta hear that, Thanks. My favorite non – JC composed film is definitely The Thing. Just classic. I also thought the score to the The Ward and Cody Carpenter’s piece for Cigarette Burns were good efforts.

  3. While the main theme from Indiana Jones is wonderful, my favorite John Williams track is the Theme from Jurassic Park; it’s simply beautiful. Plus it brings back childhood memories of a great film.

    • I love the 30 second or so piece of music that plays during the logos at the start. Just creepy. So well done. JP has a great score.

  4. Hi Victor, thanks for stopping by The Warning Sign! Looks like you’ve got a lot of good stuff going on over here. This list is great — it really doesn’t get much better than that Jaws score. Timeless.

    • It was my pleasure! You have a very cool blog. Glad you liked the list. Jaws was just too iconic and groundbreaking to leave off the list much less not give it the top spot. I have learned though that many love his more obscure works as well which is why I included “The Fury” Thanks for stopping by.

    • Thanks! Jaws is just plain iconic and amazing. Jaws 2 has some merit as well. Williams expands the score nicely with the second score.

    • TY for the link, Ruth! Great list. I just listened to The Phantom Menace OST the other day and I LOVE Duel of the Fates. Superman is also a very grand score by John. Thanks for stopping by and sharing! 🙂

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