Part of the joy of owning a home theater is being able to sit back and take in the visual and aural spectacle of great films. From timeless classics like “Casablanca” and “The Wizard Of Oz” to comedies such as “Wayne’s World” and modern action adventures like “Mad Max Fury Road,” each of the movies listed here offer powerful musical moments that will keep you coming back time and again. So get that bowl of popcorn, fire up your system, and prepare to be entertained.
1. Casablanca – La Marseillaise
Yes, music can make a political statement. In this 1942 romantic drama starring Humphrey Bogart, a clash happens when Nazi officers begin singing “Die Wacht am Rhein” at the piano. Not to be outdone by the unwelcome guests, Victor Laszlo orders the orchestra to begin playing “La Marseillaise.” Unable to overtake the fervor and volume of the patrons, the Nazis back down, ending with the patrons clapping and patting each other on the back yelling “Viva La France!” Check it out here.
2. Wayne’s World – Bohemian Rhapsody
Who would ever have thought that a classic film scene could take place in an AMC Pacer? This scene from the 1992 side-splitter has Dana Carvey (Garth Algar) and Mike Myers (Wayne Campbell), along with their rocker friends, banging their heads to a cassette tape of the Queen tour de force “Bohemian Rhapsody” blasting inside the cramped car. It was a brilliant and comical use of the song and the scene became an instant pop culture meme. Side note: Apparently Freddie Mercury got to see the scene shortly before he passed and loved it; in fact, Queen won an MTV Video Music Award for the scene and also saw the song propelled to number two on the Billboard singles chart years after its original release. Check it out here.
3. The Wizard of Oz – If I Only Had a Brain
“What would you do with a brain if you had one?” asks Dorothy (Judy Garland) in this 1939 landmark film. The answer from scarecrow Ray Bolger evolves into a fully orchestrated musical piece, beautifully performed by the MGM Studio Orchestra. Check it out here.
4. Top Gun – To the Danger Zone
Training the best fighter pilots in the world, the Top Gun school made a perfect platform for this 1986 blockbuster featuring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. As an F-14 Tomcat launches off the deck of an aircraft carrier, the song “Danger Zone” (performed by Kenny Loggins) slowly builds up to the high-flying adventure that’s about to place. When it comes to action in the skies, it’s hard to “top” this movie! Check it out here.
5. Mad Max Fury Road – Guitar Guy
This wild scene from 2015 Australian post-apocalyptic action film features a hard-rocking guy on the back of a rolling truck with a wall of amplifiers. As the rolling caravan comes under attack, the music issuing forth from the flame-spitting guitar plays a central role in the fire and fury of the scene. Check it out here.
6. Platoon – Opening
Sometimes it’s the unusual choice of music that makes a powerful impact on the overall feel of a film. Such is the case with this 1986 movie, which explores a soldier’s journey in the Vietnam War, where the use of Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber for the opening music on the dusty windblown airstrip grabs you immediately. As Charlie Sheen and the others walk off the plane and get their first taste of a foreign country, the sweeping strings help to foreshadow what’s about to come. Check it out here.
7. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Duel Scene
This is one of the great Clint Eastwood scenes of all time, although not a single word is spoken. With the heroic Ennio Morricone score pulsing and flowing underneath, the camera pans in on the characters’ shifting eyes and movements, and the music continues to build as they do a slow, gradual dance on the stones in the center of a graveyard to gain position. We can all guess what happens in the end … or can we? Check it out here.
8. Caddyshack – Opening
As a gopher chews up the golf course, Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) rides his bike to work, accompanied by the song “I’m Alright” (written by Kenny Loggins — there he is again!), immediately delivering the feel-good nature of this wacky and star-studded 1980 comedy. Check it out here.
9. Batman The Dark Knight – Bank Robbery Scene
Opening with a solitary and rather uncomfortable string note, the score (by Hans Zimmer) underpinning this scene unfolds into a pulsating synth movement as clown-masked bandits perform a bank heist. Loading up a bus full of cash, the musical crescendo eventually reveals that the Joker is behind it all. This is just one of the many moving moments in this 2008 superhero film based on the DC Comics character Batman. Check it out here.
10. Dr. No – Casino Scene
Just as Sean Connery famously introduces himself at the card table as “Bond … James Bond,” one of the most memorable guitar riffs in movie history starts playing underneath in this pioneering 1962 British spy film that launched a thousand imitators. The recurring themes from composer Monty Norman would go on to populate many of the films in the decades-long Bond series that shows no sign of letting up today. Check it out here.
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