Entertainment

The Greatest Movie Themes  

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Originally by Ranker Community
78.6k votes 9k voters 268.5k views 378 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.

 

list ordered by
1
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill
Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars franchise, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter ...more
2
Rocky is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith
Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen. A small-time boxer (Sylvester Stallone) gets a supremely rare chance to fight a heavy-weight champion (Carl Weathers) in ...more
3
James Bond Franchise is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The James Bond film series is a British series of spy films based on the fictional character of MI6 agent James Bond, "007", who originally appeared in a series of books by Ian ...more
4
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. The screenplay was written by Age ...more
5
Indiana Jones and the Raiders ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. The screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan was from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It was produced by ...more
6
Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the first installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. It is based on the 1990 novel of the ...more
7
Jaws is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider
Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The prototypical summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a ...more
8
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Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson
Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into ...more
9
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Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven
The Pink Panther is a 1963 Technicolor American comedy film filmed in 70mm Super Technirama directed by Blake Edwards and co-written by Edwards and Maurice Richlin, starring David Niven, Peter ...more
10
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Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd
Ghostbusters is a 1984 American sci-fi-fantasy comedy film, directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as ...more
11
The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Mario Puzo. The aging patriarch (Marlon Brando) of an organized crime dynasty transfers ...more
12
Chariots of Fire is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm
Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of ...more
13
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Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave
Mission: Impossible is a 1996 American action spy film directed by Brian De Palma, based on the 1960s television series. IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must uncover the mole who has framed
14
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
codebreaker added Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field
Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks, Robin ...more
15
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed by James Cameron. A seventeen-year-old aristocrat (Kate Winslet) falls in love with a kind but poor artist (Leonardo DiCaprio) ...more
16
Superman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve
Superman is a 1978 superhero film directed by Richard Donner. It is based on the DC Comics character of the same name and stars Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, ...more
17
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker
The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is an adaptation of the 1959 Broadway ...more
18
Saturday Night Fever is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
Batman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton
Batman is a 1989 American superhero film directed by Tim Burton, based on the DC Comics character. The Dark Knight of Gotham City (Michael Keaton) begins his war on crime with his first major ...more
20
Harry Potter and the Philosoph... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. ...more
21
Doctor Zhivago is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
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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
23
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction-family film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo ...more
24
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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
25
Top Gun is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer
Top Gun is a 1986 American action drama film directed by Tony Scott, and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, in association with Paramount Pictures. The screenplay was written by Jim ...more