Friday Night Jazz Film Soundtracks

Oh, goody, yet another list. How f$%&ing original!

For some silly reason, there seems to be all this hoo-haa about the silly Vanity Fair article on the top Movie Soundtracks of all time.

These people are wankers for many reasons: 1) The VF weenies press released to death; b) the article is not even available on line; iii) the editors chose Purple Rain as the greatest film soundtrack of all time.

I remain convinced that the purveyors of these annoying lists select a controversial top pick to generate buzz (tho’ you would think this would might encourage online posting).

Regardless, let’s not play into their hand. Rather than waste too much time telling you how clueless VF’s music editors are, or giving them any linklove, I would rather — in the spirit of Friday Night Jazz — compile a worthwhile list of films and soundtracks for your perusal.

A few ground rules:

• We are looking for outstanding soundtracks to outstanding films. (Merely o.k. doesn’t cut it).

• Groundbreaking films, soundtracks and performances get bonus points. (Mediocre performances get cut).

• Better non-film versions take points away from the movie soundtrack — where there are superior versions such as the Broadway soundtrack (i.e., Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.) than those flicks don ‘t make the cut.

• Pure adaptations of Broadway shows also get cut. In my mind, Cabaret, Chicago, Chorus Line are more filmed stage productions, rather than pure movies. (as forewarned, totally subjective).

Hence, several films that I love failed to make the cut: Apocalypse Now is fantastic in the way it uses music (especially The Doors’ The End, and Wagner’s The Ride Of The Valkyries), but its not great as a standalone soundtrack; the wonderful My Fair Lady, with Rex Harrison’s mediocre voice, and the dubbing of Audrey Hepburn’s voice, also doesn’t make the cut.

These things are totally subjective, and are rarely based exclusively on mere merits. Pink Floyd The Wall was a great album so overplayed when I was in
college, that I simply couldn’t pull the trigger on it (the film is a bit
ponderous to boot). Again, these things are very subjective.

Alternatively, the film can’t suck. The greatest
soundtrack in the world becomes irrelevant if its attached to a film
like, say, Hedwig and the Angry Inch — a play that sucked two hours out of my life that I will never get back, and will literally regret on my death bed.

We can certainly debate the order of any list, or the contents, and we probably will (thats what the comments are for).

Here’s my subjective top ~20:

1. A Hard Day’s Night:  A brilliant film and album that both remain as energetic and fresh today as they were in 1964. The Beatles personalities were perfectly suited to the medium, so much so that its hard to imagine a better film/soundtrack combo.

: A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day’s Night

If you want to consider another Beatles sound track, both Yellow Submarine and Help! are fun — but neither rise to the sheer genius of A Hard Day’s Night. 


2. Stop Making Sense:
Quite simply, the best concert film ever made. Yes, some of you will
declare The Last Waltz, (with a few stragglers nominating Woodstock)
but there is simply nothing else that ha the combination of
showmanship, musical innovation — and the big suit — like this film
does. Marvelous.

: Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense


3.  Blade Runner: Forget the ponderous and boring Chariots of Fire, THIS is Vangelis Masterpiece. Not only is the music hauntingly beautiful, but it fits the filmscape so perfectly, making it even better than it originally was. We’ve already spilled so many words about BR, that the less said the better. "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain." 

: Blade Runner

Blade Runner


4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show:
I could try to explain this, but I couldn’t do it justice. Find a
theater where this is playing at the midnight show, and go with someone
who’s gone before. Repeat.

: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 Film)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 Film)


5. The Graduate:
Not only is this a seminal, groundbreaking film, but the soundtrack is
phenomenal. The way the various songs are interwoven into the action,
mood, psyches of the players is amazing (listen as Benjamin’s Alpha Romeo Spider runs out of gas).

I don’t know if Mike Nichols is
a genius, or just got incredibly lucky. Either way, its a great
soundtrack and a great movie.   

: The Graduate (1967 Film)

The Graduate (1967 Film)


6.  Harold and Maude:
One of the most subversive, outrageously amusing black comedies ever made — hysterically funny to boot. Cat Stevens (before he became Yusaf)
created a wonderful collection of songs that enhance the story line’s mood and emotions.  This is, quite bluntly, one of the
funniest films ever made.

: Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude


7. Garden State:
My "surprise" entry. A charming little film with a soundtrack that simply
refuses to stop delighting you with its lovely tunes and ballads, nearly all of which are by bands that
prior to this soundtrack were relatively unknown. This disc was played constantly in the car in 2004/05.

: Garden State

Garden State


8. (tie):Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains The Same
The Who, The Kids Are Alright:

Perhaps its my age showing, but I have always found each of these to be tremendous films and soundtracks. The Zep concert film was utterly ground breaking, and I must have seen it a zillion times after they broke up; The Who film was a fantastic documentary.

: The Song Remains The Same (Remastered / Expanded) (2CD)

The Song Remains The Same

: The Kids Are Alright

The Kids Are Alright


10. Fantasia: Music by Tchaikovsky, Moussorgsky, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Ponchielli, Bach, Dukas, and Schubert. ’nuff said.

The film was groundbreaking in many ways, including the innovative
use of animation and stereophonic sound — but its the overall approach
that has been so enduring:  Allow the Disney animators tointerpret Classical music. The results are both playful and surreal. Its amazing how well this has held up after 60 years . . .   

: Fantasia (Special 60th Anniversary Edition)

Fantasia (Special 60th Anniversary Edition)


11. Pulp Fiction: The film does so many things so well — but the way the music is integrated into the actual plot is simply terrific.  Plus, Travolta and Uma can each dance. 

: Pulp Fiction: Music From The Motion Picture

Pulp Fiction: Music From The Motion Picture


12. West Side Story:
Leonard Bernstein’s musical update of Romeo and Juliet. The combination
of Stephen Sondheim brilliant lyrics, the kinetic choreography and the
bravura camera work made for a fantastic wide screen film. The
soundtrack created the perfect counterpoint to the dance and action.

Sure, its a bit dated (hence, #10), but it remains an all time great.

: West Side Story

West Side Story


13.  Purple Rain: There is no doubt that the purple one can sign, dance, play guitar — but Acting? Not so much.

Regardless, his sheer overwhelming talent is why this manages to get onto my top 15.

True Story: I saw this in the theaters in college, and my remark was "He’s going to be bigger than Michael Jackson" — who was huge at the time.

Its a toss up how right that call was, but the general concept was dead on . . .

: Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain"

Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain"


14. Little Shop Of Horrors: A fantabulous musical/horror/comedy. It’s all a whole lot of fun, and the musical styles range from honky-tonk to doo-wop to straightforward rock n’ roll. The strength of the film carries what otherwise might have been a mere Broadway adaption into an entire different level.

: Little Shop Of Horrors (1986 Film)

Little Shop Of Horrors (1986 Film)


15. Koyaanisqatsi: A quasi-documentary, this film has been described as "visual concert of images" or a "filmic landscape." The reason its here is the hauntingly beautiful music of Phillip Glass. A classic college flick . . .

: Koyaanisqatsi - Life Out of Balance

Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance


16. Saturday Night Fever: One of those seminal films that tremendously influenced the culture.

My choice in music was rock-n-roll, and I had little interest in blow-dried hair, white polyester suits, or cruising discos looking to pick Staten Island bimbos.

The music works as well on its own, but it also works as a classic piece of pop history. (And John Travolta makes the list twice!)

: Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track

Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track


17. The Tao of Steve: Another charming little film that surprises with its wonderful songs. A fun amusing, philosophically oriented film, with a soundtrack to match. For you Outdoor Types.

: The Tao of Steve: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Tao of Steve: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


18. All That Jazz: The Oscar winning soundtrack by Ralph Burns includes jazz, classical, pop, and Broadway standards. Its a marvelous mix that works to great effect in the film.

Can you imagine anyone other Director making so self-critical autobiographical film other than Bob Fosse? While some have criticized the film as a  rip-off of Fellini’s 8 1/2, my favored descriptions of All That Jazz is "the musical version of Apocalypse Now." If you can imagine that, you have a better sense of what the film itself is like.

: All That Jazz (1979 Film)
All that work. All that glitter. All that pain. All that love. All that crazy rhythm. All that jazz.

All That Jazz (1979 Film)


19. The Big Chill:
The Motown dominated score was one of the most artistically skillful —
and commercially successful — uses of pop ever set to a film.

More than merely setting a time and place, the soundtrack has a
wispy nostalgia for a prior period in the players’ lives. Subsequent
attempts by other movies have been less successful of creating a look
back from a specific time to another one;  e.g., I think of the Forrest
Gump soundtrack as Big Chill 2.

: The Big Chill - Deluxe Edition

The Big Chill – Deluxe Edition



20.  South Park – Bigger, Longer & Uncut: You will laugh until you piss yourself. This one squeaks in at #20 because the soundtrack is so very, very funny. 

: South Park - Bigger, Longer & Uncut

South Park – Bigger, Longer & Uncut


Thats my top list; A few Honorable Mentions are after the jump . . .

Honorable Mentions:

: The Breakfast Club: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Breakfast Club: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


: 41 Original Hits From The Soundtrack Of American Graffiti

41 Original Hits From The Soundtrack Of American Graffiti


: Trainspotting: Music From The Motion Picture

Trainspotting: Music From The Motion Picture


: Superfly



Reader suggestions:


Sound of Music   
Pink Floyd – The Wall   
Apocalypse Now
Forrest Gump
Round Midnight
Oh Brother, Wherefore Art Thou
Grosse Pointe Blanke
Easy Rider
Last Waltz
Sorcerer Lost in Translation   
The Virgin Suicides   
The Motorcycle Diaries 
The Mission
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Jesus Christ, Superstar
Oliver! (1968)
Absolute Beginners
All that Jazz
Moulin Rouge
Pennies from Heaven
Phantom of the Paradise
Robin & the 7 hoods
True Stories 
Willy Wonka
Beauty & the Beast
The Last Waltz
Blues Brothers
Let It Be
South Park
Sweeny Todd
Fiddler on the Roof
Meaning of Life
A Star is Born
Ziggy Stardust


If you’ve hummed along, tapped your feet, or even danced
in your seat while watching "Purple Rain," "Saturday Night Fever" or
"Trainspotting," you’re not alone.

The soundtracks from those movies have been named among the 50
greatest by the editors of Vanity Fair magazine. The full list will be
revealed next month in a one-time Conde Nast magazine, Movies Rock, for
subscribers of its 14 titles.

"Purple Rain" topped the chart even though it was described as
"perhaps the best badly acted film ever," editors at Vanity Fair said,
while "Trainspotting" came in at No. 7 and "Saturday Night Fever" was

"Purple Rain" greatest film soundtrack: Vanity Fair
Wed Oct 24, 12:30 AM ET

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Beatnikbob commented on Nov 2

    a very long shot for an honorable mention:

    Mulatu Astatke for Broken Flowers

  2. wnsrfr commented on Nov 2

    While maybe not on any popular lists, I would like to mention the soundtrack from A Clockwork Orange…a totally groundbreaking combination of classical and what would become techno…

  3. Ross commented on Nov 2

    You whipper snappers you! What about Showboat, Picnic, Big Country… I’ll concede American Graffiti. But what id dis Acid Rain song?

  4. MarkTX commented on Nov 2

    I throw my vote(s) for

    Pink Floyd – The Wall

    The soundtrack to Apocolypse Now also should get consideration.

    And I will also mention (because my two older sisters blungeoned me to death
    when I was Younger)
    with these two soundtracks

    -The Sound Of Music

    Of note: The second Grease movie/soundtrack may be the biggest failure of all time

  5. NoFate commented on Nov 2

    Pink Floyd – The Wall (as MarkTX pointed out).

    This is the only obvious soundtrack Barry overlooked …it is more an album with a movie built around it …but the album is built around a story. Hmmmm…

    Probably Floyd’s 3rd best offering …but still in the top 20 in my book…

  6. The Financial Philosopher commented on Nov 2

    A bit off topic but I forgot to mention, with regard to your recent survey, that, although a high percentage did not favor your “friday night jazz” posts, you should definitely continue doing them anyway.

    A break from the “noise” is always a good thing. Pay no attention to what others say (or don’t say). Everyone needs a little “allocation of attention” whether they ask for it or not…

  7. wally commented on Nov 2

    The best integration of sound to film, ever, is the original Star Wars.

  8. Ross commented on Nov 2

    Two more for consideration, Alfi and the most awesome all time favorite, Rudolph Valentino’s The Sheik. I swear the first time I saw this movie, it seemed the piano was actually IN the theatre…….

  9. John commented on Nov 2

    For me it would be the SoundTrack for Forrest Gump…

  10. Scott Frew commented on Nov 2

    Damn Barry. Apocalypse Now, not even among the honorable mention? Read Michael Herr’s “Dispatches”–it’s sad, and yet somehow exhilirating and true that that was the soundtrack of the Vietnam war. Okay, maybe The Ride of The Valkyries segment not so much, but where do you find bravura moviemaking of that sort these days, and we’re not even getting to Satisfaction on the riverboat, or that damnable, and iconic, This Is the End.

    And, in the spirit of Friday Night Jazz past and to come, go get a dvd of Bertrand Tavernier’s Round Midnight, featuring Dexter Gordon as an amalgam of Bud Powell and Lester Young, in a scintillating perfomance, with more special guests than I have time to type. Buy, don’t rent, you’ll want to see it more than thrice.

    Clint Eastwood’s Bird, with Forest Whitaker as Charlie Parker ain’t bad either.


    PS The Last Waltz far and away the best concert film.

  11. critical thought commented on Nov 2

    agreement on the Tao of Steve. . . “the outdoor type” is a fun tune.

    I thought Grosse Point Blank had a decent soundtrack. Also “reality bytes” had some good tunes.

  12. DP commented on Nov 2

    Woody Allen’s – Manhattan

    A great mix of songs and images

  13. Greg0658 commented on Nov 2

    Neil Diamonds Johnathon Livingston Seagull
    Barb & Kris’s A Star is Born and cue up Hellaceous Acres “admissions free you pay to get out”
    Tommy by the Who & Elton
    Legend by Jon Anderson

    I liked alot of the above suggestions too.

  14. Brian B. commented on Nov 2

    ok, I know I am going to get slammed for this but, what about… Lord of the Rings? Just a great soundtrack, about the only soundtrack I have ever purchased… I agree with Wally, the original Star Wars also…

  15. Winston Munn commented on Nov 2

    I don’t know how Easy Rider can’t make the list somewhere – Don’t bogart that list, my friend, pass it over to me….

  16. Winston Munn commented on Nov 2

    I “borrowed” these comment from, about a classic movie and classic score: Lawrence of Arabia

    “Maurice Jarre’s Oscar winning soundtrack to David Lean’s epic masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins and Omar Sharif.
    Jarre was given only six weeks to compose the Lawrence of Arabia soundtrack so to ensure that he got the job done, he established a disciplined routine of four hours work followed by ten minutes of sleep – night and day. Not surprisingly, once he was finished he was totally exhausted and it took him five months to fully recover.”

  17. jeremiah commented on Nov 2

    How about Ennio Morricone’s groundbreaking work in “Good, Bad and the Ugly”, or just about anything by Henri Mancini (Pink Panther?)

    John Williams’ now-ubiquitous score for Star Wars certainly made its impact on film scoring…

    Lord of the Rings is, without at doubt, a landmark achievement in film soundtracks…

    Those are my suggestions (best i can think of in the few minutes i have here…)



  18. David commented on Nov 2

    Our kids were watching ‘Shrek 2’ tonight(friday), it’s not jazz, however, the soundtrack is cool. We like the song by ‘Nick Cave’, called, “People Ain’t No Good” or as we like to say, “Ben Ain’t No Good”.

    “But it is no matter. Let Hercules himself do what he may, The cat will mew and dog will have his day.” William Shakespeare

  19. achova commented on Nov 2

    I’d certainly support Pink Floyd, The Wall Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

    – Adam

  20. Schnormal commented on Nov 2

    You forgot RUSHMORE, you freaking people ;)

    And Finding Forrester (it’s got with that awesome DJ Cam remake of Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way)

    and Diva

    and what about Underground, yeah!!!!

  21. Bill aka NO DooDahs! commented on Nov 2

    Jesus Christ, Superstar
    Urban Cowboy

    While I agree that Forrest Gump had a kickin’ soundtrack, the movie sucked, so I had to DQ it.

    BR: This is totally subnjective of course, but I found both Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar had far superior Bradway stage soundtracks.

    I still listen marvel at how good the original Hair recording was . . .

  22. Len commented on Nov 3

    “Oh Brother Wherefore Art Thow”

    A hilarious movie with a a great sound track reminiscent of Ry Cooder.

  23. Philip commented on Nov 3

    The Quiet American (Not the oxymoron itself but the music)

    Wild Orchid

  24. side pocket commented on Nov 3

    Local Hero
    Any score by Mark Knopfler

  25. Hosenpants commented on Nov 3

    A cool mix tape does not equal a soundtrack – I’d vote Pulp Fiction, Grosse Pointe Blanke, Trainspotting and Wes Anderson films off the island by dq. I’m a crank and demand a few original pieces in the mix.

    Some good ones:

    Escape From New York
    Rosemary’s Baby
    2001 Space Odyssey
    The 10th Victim – my wife loves this one among Morricone etc.
    In The Heat Of The Night (Quincy Jones)

    and I’ll second the Solaris s/t mentioned above.

  26. k.w. commented on Nov 3

    Brian B. beat me to the punch on “Easy Rider” and I want to agree with DP on “Manhattan”; admittedly I was in a state of enhanced consciousness when I saw “Manhattan” (hey, it was a long time ago) but I immediately headed to the local mall and got myself a copy of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Guess I should have bought the soundtrack. Anyway, many people think it’s Woody Allen’s best film.

  27. gorobei commented on Nov 3

    Please rest assured thar Mike Nichols is a genius and didn’t just get incredibly lucky.

    The Graduate has some of the funniest scene transitions in filmdom. E.g. Mrs R->swimming pool, the cut to DH in the diving outfit.

    The Graduate was the benchmark for film geekiness until Pulp Fiction. Not surprisingly, both had soundtracks so perfect they made you cry.

    Actually, watch the two movies back to back. I bet QT would say The Graduate was an influence on his work.

  28. SamuariDave commented on Nov 3

    Sorcerer, which I believe was made by William Friedkin, with a soundtrack by Tangerine Dream.

  29. DanW commented on Nov 3

    Gotta second the motion on O’ Brother Where Art Thou. Not only was it a great collection of songs, but American roots music has seen a huge revival in popularity with it as a catalyst.

  30. MrSaito commented on Nov 3

    In the spirit of your surprise pick, Garden State, I submit:

    – Lost in Translation soundtrack

    I thought it was a beautifully composed soundtrack with great original instrumental pieces by Kevin Shields, 80’s songs by Bryan Ferry, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine.

    – The Virgin Suicides soundtrack

    Awesome collection of songs from The Hollies, Al Green, Gilbert O’Sullivan, and beautiful instrumental pieces by Air.

    – The Motorcycle Diaries

    If you haven’t yet seen this movie, it’s a great film. Forget about Che’s political ideology and enjoy the movie for the nostalgic tribute to the exploratory road trips taken when one is young. As for the soundtrack, the score composed by Gustavo Santaollala is simply beautiful.

  31. Leo commented on Nov 3

    If you asked about film scores I would say The Mission by Ennio Morricone. It is one of the most amazing and, at times haunting, pieces of music I have ever heard. The Good the Bad and the Ugly has nothing on it.

  32. Richard W. Crews commented on Nov 3

    I don’t think concert movies count as soundtracks. A s/t should enhance a movie, tie visuals to new or old stuff. The movie gets better and some of the songs gain a dimension. Concert movies are just the s/t, and that’s a different thing.

  33. bill commented on Nov 3

    Be honest – you can’t honestly have seen Superfly or heard its soundtrack and only make it an honorable mention. You must only have heard that you must include it to lend your list credibility. That soundtrack embodies the “style over substance” creed of blaxploitation as few other soundtracks ever have. Superfly should unquestionably be on your list with Black Caesar as an honorable mention. Exempting “non-outstanding” movies from consideration is a cheap cop-out.

    Also, I agree that some Ennio Morricone should have made the list – the soundtrack from The Mission is better than the movie itself while the soundtrack to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is inextricable from its brilliant host.

    But kudos for including Harold and Maude.


    BR: I’m a big Curtis Mayfield fan (hence, the honorable mention), but as good as the soundtrack is, you have to admit the film has not held up well.

    Besides, I got enough street cred. Why? My alternative to Black Ceaser is Shaft.

    ’nuff said.

  34. Ralph commented on Nov 3

    My top 10 stage musical movie adaptations since 1960:
    *Cabaret (1972)
    *Chicago (2002)
    *Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A (1966)
    *Hair (1979)
    *Hedwig (2001)
    *Jesus Christ, Superstar (1973)
    *Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
    *Oliver! (1968)
    *Rocky Horror Picture Show, The (1975)
    *West Side Story (1961)

    My top 10 original movie musicals since 1960:
    *Absolute Beginners (86)
    *All that Jazz (79)
    *Moulin Rouge (01)
    *Pennies from Heaven (81)
    *Phantom of the Paradise (74)
    *Robin & the 7 hoods (64)
    *Starstruck (82)
    *Tommy (75)
    *True Stories (86)
    *Willy Wonka (71)

    My top 10 animated musicals since 1960:
    *Aladdin (92)
    *Anastasia (97)
    *Beauty & the beast (91)
    *Lion king (94)
    *little mermaid (89)
    *Mulan (98)
    *Pocahantas (95)
    *prince of Egypt (98)
    *south park (1999)
    *yellow submarine (68)

    Culling these, this is my top 10 `modern’ musicals:

    *All that Jazz (1979)
    *Beauty & the beast(1991)
    *Cabaret (1972)
    *Chicago (2002)
    *Hair (1979)
    *Jesus Christ, Superstar (1973)
    *Lion king (94)
    *Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
    *Moulin Rouge (2001)
    *Rocky Horror Picture Show, The (1975)

  35. Bruce commented on Nov 3

    Top Gun….aren’t any of you people out there men?

  36. dark1p commented on Nov 3

    What an amazingly lame list in terms of what a soundtrack is. The collection of songs that have been tossed into movies with abandon are not actually film ‘soundtracks’ in my estimation. They are precisely what they are: recordings made for other reasons that are being used by a filmmaker to dress up a movie. It can work wonderfully, of course, but ‘soundtrack’? Only in the broadest terms.

    Morricone wrote soundtracks. Bernard Hermann was, to my mind, the best soundtrack composer ever. Check out ‘Vertigo’, ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘North by Northwest’, ‘Psycho’, ‘Fahrenheit 451’, even ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ and ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’…the list goes on, all brilliant, all composed expressly for the film in question to enhance it.

    That’s what a film soundtrack is, or at least was, before the work was highjacked to be used as many people use it today. To me, musicals don’t count, either. Broadway ‘soundtracks’ are traditionally called ‘original cast recordings’, and to my mind, that basically applies to musical films, as well. Doesn’t mean that ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Top Hat’ and ‘Cabaret’ aren’t great records. Just not exactly really soundtracks.

    By the way, another one you forgot: ‘Solaris’, the George Clooney film. Amazing soundtrack, dark, moody, sad and beautiful.

  37. alex commented on Nov 3

    The Third Man with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton introduces zither music in this movie filmed in war damaged Vienna shortly after World War II. As film critic, Roger Ebert wrote,”Has there ever been a film where the music more perfectly suited the action than in Carol Reed’s ‘The third man’?”

  38. scorpio commented on Nov 3

    Schnormal the only normal guy here. yah, Rushmore! followed closely by Superfly

  39. joefromla commented on Nov 3

    Yep. “3rd Man” is the best of all time.
    Listen to “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “8 1/2” soundtracks, let me know what you think.

  40. Oneionry commented on Nov 3

    Phenomenon was quite phenomenal. Put Travolta in for the third time.

  41. george commented on Nov 3

    Barry Lyndon

  42. edhopper commented on Nov 3

    I have to agree with dark1p on this one.
    To me a mixed tape is not a sound track. And picking a concert movie of a great rock band is a cheat, the songs were already hits before the movie started. And surprise, surprise, great broadway shows can become movies with great music.
    Try a list of soundtracks for music written especially for the movie. Otherwise it’s apples and oranges.
    Max Steiner, Bernard Hermann, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Henri Mancini, Danny Elfman……

  43. charlie commented on Nov 3

    There are foreign films that have tremendous soundtracks. two that come to mind are 8 1/2 and Hiroshima Mon Amor.

  44. Barry Ritholtz commented on Nov 3

    Dark1p — those are really Film Scores, not Film Soundtracks —

    I tired to separate the two, otherwise, the list would have been 10,000 films long

  45. MeanGene commented on Nov 3

    Not a single mention of Blues Brothers.
    Wow, what can I say?
    And only a single mention of EZ Rider.

    BR: Easy Rider was mentioned by a few people above . . .

  46. edhopper commented on Nov 3

    “Dark1p — those are really Film Scores, not Film Soundtracks —

    I tired to separate the two, otherwise, the list would have been 10,000 films long”
    Posted by: Barry Ritholtz | Nov 3, 2007 11:52:55 AM

    As Gilda Radner would say; “Oh, that’s different, well nevermind.”

  47. larrybob commented on Nov 3

    how ’bout some jazz scores?

    Umbrellas of Cherbourg, score by michel legrand, film directed by jacques demy. a gorgeous jazz opera (and not just because the incomparable cathrine deneuve is in it) that works, highly recommended!

    Elevator to the Gallows, score by Miles Davis, film directed by louis malle.

    Naked Lunch, score by Ornette Coleman (& howard shore) film directed by David Cronenberg.

  48. larrybob commented on Nov 3

    another vote for Ennio Morricone…try Once Upon a Time in America or Once Upon a Time in the West. Also, the Mission and the spaghetti westerns are great as well…a worthy receipient of a special oscar a couple of years ago.

  49. NC Jim commented on Nov 3

    I second Lawrence of Arabia as a pure sound track written especially for the film.

  50. Bushrod McCorkle commented on Nov 3

    Ascenseur Pour L’echafaud
    (Elevator to the Scaffold)
    soundtrack by Miles Davis
    Cool, very cool.

  51. Dave commented on Nov 3

    Fantasia, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Dr Zhivago, Reds (interesting pairing), Paper Moon, 42nd Street, Sun Valley Serenade, Team America.

    And for all those Vietnam War movie fans, how come no good soundtracks to the Iraq War movies?

  52. maytal commented on Nov 4

    Yeah, the harder they come, the harder they’ll fall one and all

    You Can Get It If You Really Want
    Rivers Of Babylon
    Many Rivers To Cross
    The Harder They Come
    Pressure Drop
    Sitting In Limbo
    …Jimmy Cliff

  53. Barry Ritholtz commented on Nov 4

    I’m surprised no one mentioned Koyaanisqatsi — fantastic Philip Glass soundtracks . . . I may have to add that.

    And Fantasia somehow disappeared (it was right ahead of Prince) ; I’ll fix above

  54. Phil commented on Nov 4

    Great list, just some things I think should be considered on the all-time list:

    Tommy. Quadrophenia (and I’m the only mention of that)? Both better than “Kids.” McVicar is one I bet you’d like (Daltry).

    The Last Waltz, Blues Brothers, Woodstock.

    Wasn’t Let It Be a soundtrack?

    Also, you may have heard the Beatle remixes on the new Cirque de Soleil project – not exactly a soundtrack but really good stuff!

    South Park has some toe tappers, Fantasia for the classical set. I have a Sweeny Todd with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, probably the best musical I ever heard. Fiddler on the Roof doesn’t rate a mention?

    Meaning of Life deserves a comedy nod. A Star is Born, Ziggy Stardust, Ragtime…

    You’re right, lists are fun!

  55. mcrcr4 commented on Nov 4


  56. Gary commented on Nov 4

    A very good list. And lots of good recommendations. I would round out your list with “The Third Man” and “O Brother Where Art Thou?” Too many good soundtracks.

    I think Scorsese is one of the best at using music effectively. The music in “The Departed” was perfectly placed and appropriate. Just amazing.

  57. Greg0658 commented on Nov 4

    If “Woodstock” can count as a movie soundtrack then the movie “FM” fits the bill even better. Top 40 station with a plot following the radio business.

  58. Jeremy commented on Nov 4

    Hey Barry,

    How about the ‘Superman’ soundtrack? That is classic.


  59. Anon Y. Mouse commented on Nov 5

    I strongly urge that concert movies are not counted in this
    category. It’s simply too easy for them to be good — like
    shooting fish in a barrel. Besides, there’s plenty of riches
    without them.

    I also think there is an important distinction between a film
    soundtrack and a film score — but I’m not going to make it
    here. And there are examples that appear in the intersection
    of those two sets.

    Here’s a list of many of my faves:

    – Easy Rider (Two big thumbs up! One of the all-time best.)
    – The Big Chill (Lots of classic Motown.)
    – Harold & Maude (You’re out of luck if you don’t like Cat Stevens.)
    – Almost Famous
    – Dirty Dancing
    – School of Rock
    – To Live and Die in L.A. (yes, Wang Chung!)
    – Beat Street (old school rap infused with the hip hop spirit)
    – Endless Summer (surf music at its finest)
    – PCU: (if only for the “George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic” numbers)

    A jazzier sound:

    – The Hot Spot (Ry Cooder, John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis!)
    – The Last Seduction (I enjoy the moody incidental music.)
    – Wild Things (By George S. Clinton, apparently no relation?)


    – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (A fine example of Mancini’s work.)
    – 2001 (An ethereal, classical sound, and The Blue Danube.)
    -Blade Runner (Of course!)
    -Antarctica (If you love Blade Runner and think Chariots of
    Fire is ponderous, then try Vangelis’ Antarctica. It’s a
    Japanese movie that was remade here last year — with a
    happier ending, natch! — as Eight Below.)
    -The Fifth Element (Unfortunately, rights issues prevented
    the inclusion of the taxicab chase sequence, but most of the
    other great stuff is here. That sure sounds like Peter
    Gabriel singing the title song, but it isn’t.)
    – Tangerine Dream has scored many movies, including Risky
    Business, Sorcerer, Thief, and Wavelength. Notable is the
    soundtrack for Legend, which also has a nice track each
    from Bryan Ferry and Jon Anderson.

  60. Matt commented on Nov 5

    Dazed and Confused?

  61. paperpusher commented on Nov 5

    Sonny Rollins’ “Alfie.”

    The only soundtrack I’ve bothered to keep is Wenders’ “Until the End of the World.” Movie was a bit of a mess, however.

  62. Greg0658 commented on Nov 6

    Since this is a financial site should have had 1 more ground rule. ie: Own it.

    1 point saw it (screen or tv)
    1 point own film (16mm, vhs, dvd)
    1 point own soundtrack (.5 downloaded a few tracks)
    1 point own periodicals (book, magazine, music sheets)

    Listed above:
    The Wall(4p); Saturday Nigh Fever(3p); Star Wars 1st out or IV(3p); Johnathon Livingston Seagull(4p); Star Is Born(2p); Tommy(2p); Legend(1.5p)(soon2.5p); 2001(3p); Woodstock(2p) wasn’t there, I was 11yo; FM(2p).

    The Sting(2p) wasn’t mentioned. Was looking thru the S&T’s for Top Gun(1p)nogot. Confused with Cocktail(2p).

  63. Greg0658 commented on Nov 6

    I missed Rocky Horror(4p); was Rocky IV up there(2p)

  64. TS commented on Nov 7

    Chinatown Jerry Goldsmith (1974)

    The history of this soundtrack can be found on a number of sites, but I promise to make it entertaining:

    Director Roman Polanski and producer Robert Evans had originally hired another composer, Philip Lambro, to do the score. I’ve never understood why; Lambro’s only previous work had been a 1965 film, Git! (“A runaway boy and a runaway hound”), then a 1973 ‘B’ horror film, La Tumba de la Isla Maldita (USA version: Crypt Of The Living Dead), and in 1974 he had just completed the score for the (then) unreleased crime biopic, Murph The Surf.

    If Lambro’s score to Chinatown had actually slipped through, a career made on a few B-slashers might have taken off… as it was, Lambro scored only one more film, Blood Voyage, in 1976, before lapsing into actual obscurity. You had to wonder what someone was thinking, or who Lambro knew, that he had originally been picked for such a gig.

    The way Chinatown had been created was typical Hollywood: Petty and monumental feuds between Polanski and Jack Nicholson, or Polanski and Faye Dunaway; or between Polanski and Evans; or Evans and screenwriter Robert Towne; or Polanski and everyone else (John Huston, who played the film’s villian, thought Polanski was “truly gifted, and truly a pain in the ass” making the movie). The film had gone all the way through to a next-to-final cut and was weeks (some reports say ten days) away from its premiere — when Evans threw out Lambro’s score.

    Putting music to Chinatown was handed to Jerry Goldsmith, who had turned out a series of impressive major and minor film scores (A Patch Of Blue; Blue Max; The Sand Pebbles; Planet Of The Apes; Patton). Possibly more important, Goldsmith had been composing for television for over ten years — he had started on the original “The Twilight Zone”, and composed the themes and major passages for “The Man From UNCLE”, “Barnaby Jones”, “The Waltons”, and other programs before 1974.

    Goldsmith’s reputation in the film and television industry was that he could deliver product under tight deadlines — but he was also an artist, and what he did in less than ten days for Chinatown proves it.

    Goldsmith used his time to focus on a single, main theme, and utilized a narrow selection of instruments: four pianos, harps, a few strings, percussion, and a solo trumpet — If you remember the film, there’s no way that you can hear veteran studio musician Uan Rasey play the the ten-note opening theme, echoed by a single piano and backed by very muted strings, and not have the 1930’s, and the movie, come back to you in a moment. Given the deadline, Goldsmith’s work approaches genius for being so spare, and so evocative.

    The soundtrack was released on vinyl with the film in the summer of 1974. Goldsmith recorded only 31 minutes of the score he composed for Chinatown, in ten cuts; the record also included two ‘period’ cuts of music (Bunny Berrigan’s classic I Can’t Get Started, and a lounge-piano version of Fields’ and Kerns’ The Way You Look Tonight).

    The vinyl pressing of the soundtrack went out of print in the mid-80’s. It was finally issued by Varese Sarband on CD in 1995.

  65. soriguana commented on Nov 14

    Didn’t anyone see Gallipoli…

  66. CrocodileChuck commented on Nov 15

    How about:

    “When We Were Kings” (doco on the “Rumble in the Jungle” in ’74 with Mailer, Plimpton)

    “Whalerider” (Director Niki Caro, soundtrack by Lisa Gerard)

    Michael Mann’s noir masterpiece, “Heat”

  67. atore commented on Jan 1

    had to read entire thread to make sure i wasn’t duplicating anyone’s pick!! (whew)…. IF you’ve ever loved in your lifetime:
    Cinema Paradiso: Ennio Morricone

  68. nom de guerre commented on Jan 4

    what IS IT with you people?!?

    only one s/t managed to take listeners through a musical voyage ranging from muddy waters to jeff beck to journey to prince. and *then* tie it all together with absolutely **perfect** scene-specific music from tangerine dream.

    tell me there’s EVER been better first nookie music than ‘lana’. or better sex/romance music than ‘love on a real train’. better chase music than ‘guido the killer pimp’.

    “risky business”, knuckleheads.

  69. gp commented on Jan 20

    I agree with most but……. my personnal fav is from Martin Scorcese’s “Mean Streets” . The music, the period all went together perfectly, I lived those years at about the same age and that stuff really was the our soundtrack, even now when I hear those first four beats of “Be my Baby” I’m 17 years old again. Anyway,what’s really amazing is that the sound track was never released,ever.Scorcese got all the music from is own collection,used it in the mix of the movie and that was it. I had been looking for it for years and was finally told that it does not exist. Got to watch the movie to dig the soundtrack.

  70. kevin Crawford commented on Jan 29

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High should be on this list. It was a great soundtrack that featured a lot of artists that I have found nowhere else. Yes, it’s heavy on California artists, but it was a uniquely california movie. Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh, Don Henly, are there, but Raised on the Radio is one of the great songs that were never heard from again. This is for your consideration!

  71. chris commented on Jan 30

    How about the Amelie soundtrack from Yann Tierson? The best Erik Satie impression I’ve ever seen with a bit of a modern day spin.

  72. melanie commented on Feb 6

    If you liked the Garden State soundtrack, check out Igby Goes Down. You’ll probably like the movie, too, if you’re a Catcher in the Rye fan.

  73. Stonecutter commented on Feb 19

    Bruce who posted his comment in Nov,2007 had it exactly right, and I wholeheartedly agree with his insights. Many of your picks are ludicrous on their face, and betray an ignorance of great film music that corresponds to the industry’s descent into the crappola world of special effects, dumbed down writing and live-action cartoons. Purple Rain? What are you smoking?

    Some of my picks: Anything by Bernard Hermann, “The Best Years of Our Lives”, “Havana” (Dave Grusin’s brilliant cubano/salsa/latino score gives me goosebumps everytime I listen), “The Horse Whisperer”, “Glory”, “The Magnificent Seven”, “Chinatown”, “Spartacus”, the original 1938 “Robin Hood”, “The Big Country”, and many more. Obviously, your site is read primarily by children, most of whom think a film score is a collection of rock music tracks. It’s supposed to be an integral part of the experience, and create or enhance mood in every scene, not distract or detract from mood, which rock tracks usually do, and often are used to embellish lousy material and bad direction. Sadly, there are a mere handful of accomplished directors still working, and an army of film school geeks who work cheap and usually disappear after one or two misfires. They generally like tracks. God help us.

  74. scineram commented on Feb 19

    In addition to what has been said, How could leave out Akira? The soundtrack was as apocalyptic as the epic.

  75. Edwin white commented on Feb 19

    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid

  76. Whiskey Pete commented on Feb 19

    The two best soundtracks of all time, which both actually melded with the storyline of the films, were:

    1 ) The Magnificent Seven, and

    2 ) Braveheart

  77. imp commented on Feb 19

    If John Williams’s score for the first Star Wars movie isn’t here, then skimming this list is a pathetic loss of two minutes of my life.

    People, Blade Runner was pretentious, boring crap. You would know this, if you weren’t stoned every time you watch it.

  78. Paul commented on Feb 19

    I know a lot of you won’t agree with this one, on any level, but:

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High

    Was an iconic teen flick for 2 reasons 1) Mr. Hand 2)The sound track. From rolling out with the Go-Gos to ending with Oingo Boingo, it was the definitive 80s rock and roll sound track. They even managed to make fun of Led Zep- priceless.

  79. jb commented on Feb 19

    What about “How to Succeed”.
    That was perfection by the geeky
    standards of lists such as this.

  80. Matt commented on Feb 19

    And what’s wrong with John Williams?

    Jaws, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones have iconic scores that are easily remembered and instantly recognizable.

  81. Tony Kondaks commented on Feb 19

    For sheer economy, check out the wonderful but sparse (like Vangelis, I believe it is only a synthesizer) soundtrack for “The Long, Good Friday”.

  82. craig commented on Feb 27

    stranger than paradise, the jarmusch film. soundtrack by john lurie. haunting.

  83. TS commented on Mar 7

    I’ll agree with and expand just a bit on Stonecutter‘s “anything by Bernard Herrmann”.

    Hermann is in my pantheon of Film Composer Gods, along with Jerry Goldsmith, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, Elmer Bernstein, Quincy Jones, James Newton Howard and Thomas Newman (He’s also the father of actor Edward Herrmann, BTW).

    I just loaded my iPod with all the Bernie I own (and I rate CDs or MP3 downloads based on how closely they match the original scores as recorded in each film) so here’s a fast look at some favorites:

    Citzen Kane (1941): Hermann’s first film composition. There are a number of Herrmann CD’s that have cuts or compilations from the film, but the best and most available recent attempt is the 1999 full score rerecording by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely — who is the Herrmann interpreter when it comes to modern reredordings of his film scores.

    Jane Eyre (1944): The 2004 rerecording of the full score by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava, is excellent and an amazing recreation.

    The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947): Herrmann once said this was his favorite composition; a small film, and Herrman’s music is well done. While cuts from the score in a compilation appear on some Herrmann collections, The 1995 Varese Sarabande reissue of a 1975 recording of the score conducted by Elmer Bernstein is a good bet.

    Day The Earth Stood Still (1951): I recommend the 1993 CD release — one of the ’20th Century Fox Film Scores – Classic Series’ — because it’s the (remastered) actual music from the film. There’s also a 2003 recording of all the music cues out (Joel McNeely and the Scots, again); it’s a good, clean recording (for which they found the original Theramin Herrmann used).

    Snows Of Kilimanjaro (1952): This was one of my classic childhood films, and this is Herrmann at his romantic, backwards-glancing best. Only two cuts from this film were ever avilable on vinyl or CD, until the 2001 CD rerecoding of the full score on the Marco Polo label, by William Stromberg and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

    Man In The Grey Flannel Suit (1956): It’s only available on a 1999 CD, “Bernard Herrmann At Fox, Volume 1”, also containing music from ‘Tender Is The Night’ (1962), and ‘A Hatful Of Rain’ (1957). These are the original, remastered scores taken from the films; the sound is excellent and clean.

    North By Northwest (1959); Vertigo (1958); Psycho (1960): Herrmann’s collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock produced a series of film scores; these are his classics, and there are a number of good recordings out there (e.g., Psycho has been redone at least ten times; Joel McNeely released a 2007 limited edition CD of all the music cues in North By Northwest — it’s an amazing recording, but tough to find).

    Fahrenheit 451 (1966): Just about everyone but Francois Truffaut and Anton Diffring were unhappy with this adaptation of Bradbury’s classic, but Herrmann’s music is terrific. A 1995 CD, “The Fantasy Film World Of Bernard Herrmann”, with Herrmann conducting the National Philhamonic orchestra, (a rerelease of an old Quadrophonic Stereo vinyl recording) is best (There’s a 2007 CD release with more of the score, plus Herrmann’s classic score for the second episode broadcast of The Twilight Zone, “Walking Distance”, but I haven’t heard it yet).

    Obsession (1976): This was Herrmann’s last major film score before his death in Los Angeles in 1975. If I were a composer, and had to pick a score to go out on, this would be it — all the classic moments of his work are there, from the tenderest to the most filled with anxiety. Sadly, this has never been rerecorded in full (a vinyl record was released in the 70’s but never rereleased).

  84. Bob commented on Apr 16

    At, it is our pledge to provide a few items at the best prices. We want your shopping experience to be simple and pleasant.

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