If I said this was the hardest decision I’d ever had to make, I’d be exaggerating – but only slightly. In the end I had to set myself some rules: eg, only one score per composer, otherwise it would have been all Bernard Herrmann. Apologies in particular to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Rocky IV, Terminator, Twin Peaks and John Williams…
North by Northwest (1959) – Bernard Herrmann
Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock may never have earned that title without his frequent collaborator Bernard Herrmann, who also composed the brilliant scores for Vertigo and Pyscho. In North by Northwest, he drags every instrument in the orchestra into a rumbling, swooping score to create intrigue, action and drama, as Cary Grant’s ad man goes on the run following a case of mistaken identity…
Back to the Future (1985) – Alan Silvestri
To give you an idea of how much I love this, I insisted that my wife and I walk back down the aisle to it after we got married. Uplifting, dramatic, magical and nostalgic, this for me is the ultimate blockbuster movie score.
Dirty Harry (1971) – Lalo Schifrin
From the rampant rhythm section and heavy organ of the main Dirty Harry theme, to the hissing cymbals, eerie vocals and fuzz guitar of Scorpio’s View – taking you deep inside the mind of a psycho – this has to be one of the edgiest, funkiest film scores ever written.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) – Ennio Morricone
The main theme is one of the most recognisable in cinema history but there’s more to this score than that famous ‘wah-wah’ riff. I get goosebumps from The Ecstacy of Gold, which kicks off the final graveyard scene (from around the 45-second mark in this clip). The way Morricone’s music meshes with the visuals is just fantastic. Let this also serve as a tribute to the late Eli Wallach, who died last month, and is brilliant as scheming bandit Tuco.
Halloween (1978) – John Carpenter
When you come up with a riff this good you don’t need much else. I love director John Carpenter’s stripped down electro scores and the fact that he made his own lo-fi music for his own low budget movies – in both cases creating something brilliantly sinister that a Hollywood blockbuster could never have achieved. This also makes a great ringtone for your phone.
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