Entertainment

The Greatest Movie Themes  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
76.5k votes 8.8k voters 263.5k views 366 items

List Rules Theme music for films

A memorable movie theme song is an underrated crucial element that helps turn a great movie into an iconic one. At its core, a movie score is supposed to capture the mood and set the tone of what's going on in a particular scene. But the theme song if done right, can be as iconic as the film itself. Many film score composers set out to write a theme that fully encapsulates what a film is going for, but only a handful have become the greatest.

Perhaps the most famous film composer is John Williams, who is well represented on this list. Williams is the musical mind behind some of the greatest movie themes like Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Superman, Jaws and the Star Wars movies. These film scores are as memorable and iconic as the films.

Great movie themes are often instrumentals that when played, can be easily recognized. Themes from Rocky, Batman, The Godfather franchise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Psycho are among the most recognizable songs and have long since established their place in pop culture. You can hear these songs on commercials and often times at sporting events as well.

The key element to remember as you vote on your favorite theme song is that we are only voting on the theme, not the entire score or soundtrack. This is the Ultimate List specifically for theme songs, so vote on what you think is the greatest movie them of all time. If you think a movie theme is missing, feel free to add it.

To vote on the movies with the best "mix tape" style soundtracks, not scores, check out Movies with the Best Soundtracks. For best all-around sound, vote on The Greatest Soundtracks in Film History.

 

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26
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Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 American fantasy swashbuckler film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney theme parks. It was directed by Gore ...more
27
Halloween is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence
Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her ...more
28
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Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand, and the third and final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. After a daring ...more
29
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CraigAlarm added John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
Grease is a 1978 American musical romantic comedy-drama film directed by Randal Kleiser and produced by Paramount Pictures. It is based on Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs' 1971 musical of the same ...more
30
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley
Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more
31
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Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more
32
Saturday Night Fever is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added John Travolta, Fran Drescher, Denny Dillon
Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American dance film directed by John Badham and starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discotheque; ...more
33
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Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite
The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper's novel of the same ...more
34
The Magnificent Seven is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn
The Magnificent Seven is an American western film directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. The picture is an Old West-style remake of Akira Kurosawa's ...more
35
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CraigAlarm added Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall
The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John ...more
36
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CraigAlarm added Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem
Skyfall is the twenty-third James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. It features Daniel Craig in his third performance as James Bond, and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, the film's villain. It ...more
37
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson
Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more
38
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CraigAlarm added Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow
Footloose is a 1984 American musical-drama directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack, an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which, as a result of the efforts of ...more
39
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Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins
Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after taking money from ...more
40
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CraigAlarm added Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Rita Moreno
Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical comedy film directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds, and choreographed by Kelly and Donen. It ...more
41
Doctor Zhivago is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Alec Guinness
Doctor Zhivago is a British-American 1965 epic drama–romance film directed by David Lean, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. It is set in Russia between the years prior to WWI, and is ...more
42
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CraigAlarm added Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss. The film was directed by George Roy Hill, who had ...more
43
Men in Black is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg
Men in Black is a 1997 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. ...more
44
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CraigAlarm added Jane Seymour, Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto
This film is the eighth spy film in the James Bond series to be produced by Eon Productions, and the first to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Produced by Albert R. ...more
45
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Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell
A Fistful of Dollars, titled on-screen as Fistful of Dollars, is a 1964 spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, alongside Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne ...more
46
Inception is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
jaden-long added Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard
Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph ...more
47
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Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness
Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the ...more
48
Beetlejuice is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder, Geena Davis
Beetlejuice is a 1988 American fantasy-comedy-horror film directed by Tim Burton. The spirits of a deceased couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are harassed by an unbearable family that has ...more
49
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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton
The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction/horror action film directed by James Cameron, written by Cameron and the film's producer Gale Anne Hurd. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a ...more
50
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EricLeblanc added Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Rocky III is a 1982 American sports drama film directed by Sylvester Stallone, and the third film in the series. After winning the ultimate title and being the world champion, Rocky (Stallone) ...more