With the gradual passing of opening movie credits, we also lost a vital element that distinguishes many so-called “classic” movies: the original music score, including a heroic, memorable opening theme.


What’s the last film you remember that had a score you could hum while walking home from the theater — a piece of music you knew you'd always remember and associate with the film?


Obviously today’s movies still use music to fill in lulls or drive the plot; they are still referred to as scores. But I’d argue they lack the power and distinctiveness of outstanding examples from yesteryear.


Hopefully, the following list — containing 28 of the finest movie scores ever, along with the brilliant artists that produced them — will bear out my argument.



1) Charlie Chaplin — Modern Times '36 ("Smile")


Stream "Modern Times" tonight!

Find the "Modern Times" score on iTunes!



2) Erich Wolfgang Korngold — Adventures of Robin Hood '38


Stream "Adventures of Robin Hood" tonight!

Find the "Adventures of Robin Hood" scores on iTunes!


The SEa Hawk '40

Stream "The Sea Hawk" tonight!

Find the "The Sea Hawk" score on iTunes!



3) David Raksin — Laura (1944)

Stream "Laura" tonight!

Find the "Laura" score on iTunes!



4) Bernard Herrmann — North by Northwest '59


Stream "North by Northwest" tonight!

Find the "North by Northwest" score on iTunes!



PSYCHO '60 ("THE KNIFE")

Stream "Psycho" tonight!

Find the "Psycho" score on iTunes!



5) Georges Delerue — Contempt '62 ("Camille")


Stream "Contempt" tonight! 

Find the "Contempt" score on iTunes! 


JULES ET JIM '63

Stream "Jules et Jim" tonight!

Find the "Jules et Jim" score on iTunes!



6) Elmer Bernstein — The Magnificent Seven '60

Stream "The Magnificent Seven" tonight!

Find the "The Magnificent Seven" score on iTunes!



TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD '62

Stream "To Kill a Mockingbird" tonight!

Find the "To Kill a Mockingbird" score on iTunes!



THE GREAT ESCAPE '63

Stream "The Great Escape" tonight!

Find the "The Great Escape" score on iTunes!



7) Henry Mancini — Charade '63


Stream "Charade" tonight!

Find the "Charade" score on iTunes!



BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S '63

Stream "Breakfast at Tiffany's" tonight!

Find the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" score on iTunes!



THE PINK PANTHER '64

Stream "The Pink Panther" tonight!

Find the "The Pink Panther" score on iTunes!



8) Maurice Jarre — Lawrence of Arabia '62


Stream "Lawrence of Arabia" tonight!

Find the "Lawrence of Arabia" score on iTunes!



DOCTOR ZHIVAGO '65 ("LARA'S THEME")

Stream "Doctor Zhivago" tonight!

Find the "Doctor Zhivago" score on iTunes!



9) John Barry — Goldfinger' 64 (Instrumental title song, "Into Miami") 

Stream "Goldfinger" tonight!

Find the "Goldfinger" score on iTunes!



MIDNIGHT COWBOY '69


Stream "Midnight Cowboy" tonight!

Find the "Midnight Cowboy" score on iTunes!



OUT OF AFRICA '85

Stream "Out of Africa" tonight!

Find the "Out of Africa" score on iTunes!



10) Michel Legrand — The Umbrellas of Cherbourg '64 ("I Will Wait For You")


Stream "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" tonight!

Find the "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" score on iTunes!


THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR '68 ("THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND," "HIS EYES, HER EYES")

Stream "The Thomas Crown Affair" tonight!

Find "The Windmills of Your Mind" and "His Eyes, Her Eyes" on iTunes!



11) Burt Bacharach — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid '69 ("Raindrops" Instrumental, "Come Touch the Sun", "Not Goin' Home Anymore")


Stream "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" tonight!

Find the "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" score on iTunes!



12) Ennio Morricone — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly '67


Stream "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" tonight!

Find the "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" score on iTunes!



CINEMA PARADISO '88

Stream "Cinema Paradiso" tonight!

Find the "Cinema Paradiso" score on iTunes!



13) Nino Rota — The Godfather '72


Stream "The Godfather" tonight!

Find the "The Godfather" score on iTunes!



AMARCORD '73

Stream "Amarcord" tonight!

Find the "Amarcord" score on iTunes!



14) John Williams — Jaws '75

Stream "Jaws" tonight!

Find the "Jaws" score on iTunes!



STAR WARS '77

Stream "Star Wars — A New Hope" tonight!

Find the "Star Wars" score on iTunes!




More:  Best Movie Soundtracks — 8 Special Movies That Thrive on Music