* The Shoes of the Fisherman – Alex North score for a 1968 wannabe political epic where a new Pope helps prevent World War III. Fantastic music, much of it based on the score North had been writing for 2001: A Space Odyssey when Kubrick told him no, really, we don’t need any more music, hint, hint, please take the hint (though he never flat-out told North that he wouldn’t use his score).
* Movies with unexpected rock scores: Dune (scored by Toto and Marty Paich) and Ladyhawke (Andrew Powell). Even in the mythical future and the mythical past, it was the ’80s: you had to rawk!
* Howard the Duck – yes, Howard the F’in Duck. The only comic book movie ever scored by John Barry (many Bond films and Dances With Wolves – yeah, that guy). Plus rock songs Thomas Dolby produced with such people as Joe Walsh (!) and Stevie Wonder (!!) performing.
* The Wind and the Lion – Sean Connery as Arabic raider Raisuli, Candice Bergen as an ambassador’s wife, Brian Keith as Teddy Roosevelt, and oh my God perhaps the most muscular music Jerry Goldsmith ever wrote. Stunning. And the “Love Theme” (practically a prerequisite for a big ’70s action movie) is actually about paternal, not romantic, love! (I gots more Goldsmith: Hoosiers, A Patch of Blue with Sidney Poitier, Blake Edwards’s Western Wild Rovers, and – oh, yes – The Swarm, quite possibly the best score for a horrible movie ever.)
* Willow – James Horner goes Lucas-mythic. Somehow the LP holds over 70 minutes.
* Big Top Pee Wee – Danny Elfman writes circus music. ‘nuff said.
* King Kong – John Barry’s truly lovely music for a truly ridiculous movie (one which Kong fan Peter Jackson said was “even more dated” than the 1933 original).
* Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – actually incredibly hard to find in the United States. Could be the single most disturbing Big Blockbuster score John Williams wrote in the ’80s.
* The Black Hole – more John Barry, for one of the last two films to have an overture (the other was Star Trek: The Motion Picture). Spacey and energetic; this music stayed lodged in my head for much of my childhood, especially that wonderfully maddening, ever-swirling ostinato for the black hole itself.
* Little Shop of Horrors (film version) – This lyric could’ve been the tag line for the poster: Grab your hat and hang onto your soul/ Something’s coming to eat the world whole!
* The Rutles – the original version of the soundtrack to All You Need Is Cash: the Rutles, the Story of the Pre-Fab Four, with Neil Innes’s tunes twisting Beatles music into just-recognizable shapes. Quite toe-tapping, actually. You’d better think twice/ At least once more…
* Top Secret! – Parody songs performed by Val Kilmer. Blurb on cover: “Contains the RECORD!”