The list was unveiled on September 23 at a performance at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. John Mauceri led the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in excerpts from the scores while scenes from the films were screened.
Williams' 1977 score for Star Wars: A New Hope was followed by Max Steiner's score for Gone With the Wind (1939), Maurice Jarre's score for Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Bernard Hermann's score for Pyscho (1960), and Nino Rota's score for The Godfather (1972).
Williams, the former conductor of the Boston Pops, had three scores on the list, with Jaws (1975) and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) at numbers six and 14, respectively. Hermann, Steiner, Elmer Bernstein, and Jerry Goldsmith also had multiple entries.
A complete list follows below.
The AFI distributed a ballot with 250 nominated scores to 500 composers, musicians, critics, historians, and film-industry figures. Each voted for up to 250 scores, including up to five write-ins. The organization has previously issued ranks of the top 100 movies, top 100 stars, and top 100 cinematic thrills, among other lists.
1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977): John Williams
2. Gone With the Wind (1939): Max Steiner
3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962): Maurice Jarre
4. Psycho (1960): Bernard Herrmann
5. The Godfather (1972): Nino Rota
6. Jaws (1975): John Williams
7. Laura (1944): David Raksin
8. The Magnificent Seven (1960): Elmer Bernstein
9. Chinatown (1974): Jerry Goldsmith
10. High Noon (1952): Dimitri Tiomkin
11. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938): Erich Wolfgang Korngold
12. Vertigo (1958): Bernard Herrmann
13. King Kong (1933): Max Steiner
14. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982): John Williams
15. Out of Africa (1985): John Barry
16. Sunset Blvd. (1950): Franz Waxman
17. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962): Elmer Bernstein
18. Planet of the Apes (1968): Jerry Goldsmith
19. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951): Alex North
20. The Pink Panther (1964): Henry Mancini
21. Ben-Hur (1959): Miklos Rozsa
22. On the Waterfront (1954): Leonard Bernstein
23. The Mission (1986): Ennio Morricone
24. On Golden Pond (1981): Dave Grusin
25. How the West Was Won (1962): Alfred Newman