To celebrate the Jan. 31 Grammy Awards®, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today unveiled the network’s list of 15 Most Influential Film Soundtracks. TCM’s list includes examples of orchestral scores, jazz, rock compilations and even disco, with music from such films as King Kong (1933), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), The Graduate (1967), Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Star Wars (1977).
“It is nearly impossible to think of certain films without remembering their music scores. Casablanca, Laura, An Affair to Remember, The Magnificent Seven the list is endless,” said TCM host and film historian Robert Osborne. “Our list celebrates the most memorable and groundbreaking soundtracks, the ones which took the art of film music to new levels and made the most lasting impact on the world of movies.”
Musical artists from a variety of genres chimed in on TCM’s 15 Most Influential Movie Soundtracks. Rap artist and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, who worked with Isaac Hayes on the film Hustle & Flow, said Hayes’ Oscar®-winning work on the movie Shaft continues to be influential. “The soundtrack to Shaft was more than music being laid onto a film,” Ludacris said. “It was the actual credible atmosphere of the film. Isaac Hayes made you feel the relevance of black music culture within the film with his choice of sounds, instrumentals and words.”
Ludacris praised Hayes’ impact on other artists. “When I make songs specifically for films, I want them to have the kind of impact the music did for Shaft,” Ludacris said. “It defined the film and the times. It was a black film, black music and black culture in perfect balance.”
Country music star Dierks Bentley said a specific score resonates with him. “The music in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, to me, was just as big a part of the movie as the story itself,” he said. “The main theme, with that shimmering electric guitar and vocal grunts, kills me even now when I hear it. It’s perfectly suited for the movie.”
Chart-topping rock artist Rob Thomas said music contributes to film by developing a scene. “There is a certain beauty in laying a musical bed and how it builds itself into the scene, creating a lasting moment,” Thomas said. He also film music has had an influence on the concert hall. “Classical presentations that people listen to will always include Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But as generations grow older, there will also be John Williams and Danny Elfman.”
Music has played a vital role in film since the earliest days of silent movies, when live accompaniment ranged from a single pianist to a music-hall ensemble. By the latter half of the 1920s, it was possible to include recorded music on film, starting with the first synced sound score, which was used for Don Juan in 1926. Later, Max Steiner‘s groundbreaking work on 1933’s King Kong featured the first fully original score composed for a feature film.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, film music was dominated by a combination of songs from musicals and lush orchestral scores for dramas and comedies, often in a classic, romantic style. As rock and roll arrived in the 1950s, movies started featuring new songs, notably with the 1955 drama Blackboard Jungle. The use of pop-music compilations grew over the decades, with such movies as The Graduate (1967), Saturday Night Fever (1977) and The Big Chill (1983) proving to be groundbreaking. Throughout all eras, full orchestra scores remained popular. In the 1970s, such scores actually enjoyed a resurgence, thanks in part to the popularity of composer John Williams (Jaws, Star Wars).
In selecting the 15 Most Influential Film Soundtracks, several aspects were considered, including the impact they have had on how music is used onscreen to tell a story and on the methodology of song selection. Their influence is also defined by their impact on pop culture.
Here are the films from TCM’s list of 15 Most Influential Movie Soundtracks, listed in chronological order. Complete descriptions are available online at the following link: http://news.turner.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=4940
King Kong (1933) Composer: Max Steiner
Alexander Nevsky (1938) Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Composer: Bernard Herrmann
Blackboard Jungle (1955) Music Adaptor: Charles Wolcott
The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) Composer: Elmer Bernstein
Psycho (1960) Composer: Bernard Herrmann
A Hard Day’s Night (1964) Musical Director: George Martin; Songs: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Goldfinger (1964) Composer: John Barry
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) Composer: Ennio Morricone
The Graduate (1967) Composer: Dave Grusin; Songs: Paul Simon
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Musical Consultant: Patrick Moore; Music Editor: Frank J. Urioste
Shaft (1971) Composers: Isaac Hayes and J.J. Johnson
American Graffiti (1973) Music Coordinator: Karin Green
Saturday Night Fever (1977) Composers: Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb and David Shire
Star Wars (1977) Composer: John Williams
Turner Classic Movies is a Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world. Currently seen in more than 80 million homes, TCM features the insights of veteran primetime host Robert Osborne and weekend daytime host Ben Mankiewicz, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests. As the foremost authority in classic films, TCM offers critically acclaimed original documentaries and specials, along with regular programming events that include The Essentials, 31 Days of Oscar and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also stages special events and screenings, such as the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood; produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs; and hosts a wealth of materials at its Web site, www.tcm.com. TCM is part of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company.