My first favorite movie theme would have to be “Patton”, by Jerry Goldsmith. (Loving that music started a whole film music/Jerry Goldsmith collecting habit for me, I might add.)
If you are familiar with the theme music, it has a “echo” sound with horns at the beginning, and has a low organ theme in there, and then the jaunty, catchy military theme. I heard an interview with Goldsmith, he said the “echoing” horns alluded to Patton’s belief in reincarnation, the low organ theme alluded to Patton’s religious/spiritual side, and the jaunty military theme was - well, Patton was a General, after all.
I thought that all this symbolism being put into a mere film score theme quite something. You just half-listen to most film music as you watch the movie, not understanding that often there is a lot of work, thought, artistry involved in composing good film music.
The thing that kills me about “Patton” is that it got something like 11 Oscar nominations, and it won all but one Oscar. Guess who didn’t get an Oscar? You guessed it, Jerry Goldsmith. He was robbed I tell you, ROBBED!!! (He did get an Oscar for “The Omen” a few years later, though.)
Other favorite themes would be “Marnie” by Bernard Herrmann, “Under Fire”, “L.A. Confidential”, “Chinatown” and “Alien”, all by Jerry Goldsmith (I love Goldsmith!) Also, “The Mission”, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, “Days of Heaven” and “Frantic” by Ennio Morricone.