You’ve reached a Premium article. To continue reading, please login or start a 3-MONTH TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION for just 99 cents/month. You’ll receive unlimited digital access plus a complimentary issue of our award-winning print magazine.
Join Our Newsletter
Join thousands of other jazz enthusiasts and get new music, artists, album, events and more delivered to your inbox.
Long before he was an Emmy-winning animator or GRAMMY-nominated vocalist, Seth MacFarlane was a movie-obsessed kid growing up in Kent, Connecticut. In fact it was movies — and film scores, especially — that first revealed to MacFarlane the power of the screen to captivate, gratify, enlighten and challenge. MacFarlane was enamored by the lush orchestrations of the classic movies he would watch on television, and that love would prove an enduring one. Anyone who has watched his animated television shows Family Guy or American Dad! knows how essential music is to the rhythm and humor of the show. JAZZIZ asked MacFarlane to share his five favorite film scores of all time. His list includes a healthy mix of modern masterpieces and vintage gems, with scores you will no doubt recognize for the way they have lodged themselves in the public imagination. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1982Score by John WilliamsDirected by Steven Spielberg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AR6KQOiNHA This 1982 Steven Spielberg masterpiece was made all the more memorable by composer John Williams’ classic score. The soundtrack to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial would go on to win an Academy Award, a GRAMMY Award and a BAFTA Award for Best Score, marking the third time Williams was honored by all three academies for a single work. Williams would later contribute music to an audiobook album of the film, which featured production by Quincy Jones and narration by Michael Jackson. Poltergeist, 1982Score by Jerry GoldsmithDirected by Tom Hooper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zRZATcnHtQ Named the 20th-scariest movie ever made by the Chicago Film Critics Association, Poltergeist chronicles the bizarre, supernatural happenings after the Freelings family moves into a new house on the site of a Native American burial ground. The song “Carole’s Theme,” with its ethereal, ghostlike melody, has become a standard for horror movie soundtracks. The chilling score was penned by veteran film composer Jerry Goldsmith, whose credits also include multiple scores for the Star Trek film franchise.The Americanization of Emily, 1964Score by Johnny MandelDirected by Arthur Hiller https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnCGiCbw_mY This World War II romance film from 1964 features James Garner in the leading role as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander who falls in love with an English widower, played by Julie Andrews. The score, written by legendary film composer Johnny Mandel, included the song “Emily,” which has become a jazz standard, covered by icons such as Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams and Barbara Streisand. North by Northwest , 1959Score by Bernard HermannDirected by Alfred Hitchcock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vXtLDPotiw Widely heralded as one of the greatest spy thrillers of all time, Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest starred Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in a riveting tale of murder, espionage and mistaken identity. The film’s score was composed by longtime Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermann, whose additional scores for the Master of Suspense include The Man Who Knew Too Much and Vertigo. From Hermann’s pen also came the screechy violin slashes from the movie Psycho and the theme song for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone.The Sea Hawk, 1940Score by Erich Wolfgang KorngoldDirected by Michael Curtiz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSkA-Ntst5w Set in the 16th century, this black-and-white classic stars Erroll Flynn as an English pirate bent on defending his country against the Spanish Armada. (No stranger to pirate garb, Flynn also played a swashbuckler in the 1935 film Captain Blood and again in 1952’s Against All Flags.) The Sea Hawk, widely regarded as an allegory for Britain’s role in World War II, featured a score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, whose highly operatic compositions drew inspiration from the likes of Mahler, Puccini and Strauss.