Greetings, Manic Fans. Les here to talk about film march music that sounds like official army, navy, air force or marines’ music, but isn’t…but SHOULD be. These symphonic soundtracks just beg to be marched to for parades. You hear them, and something stirs in your gut and you start to feel a glow of courage flowing through you. And so, here’s my top 12 film march soundtracks that ought to be official military march songs.  Why 12? *BURP!*WHY NOT?(John Belushi voice).

These won’t be ranked, as they’re all pretty damned good.

Honorary Mentions:

I’ve got to give mention to the whistling score of

Bridge on the River Kwai


It’s specifically FOR marching and so damned catchy, I’ll bet you whistle it after watching the film-ADMIT IT!!!! The reason it’s an honorable mention?….It’s actually a real military march for the Royal Marines, and isn’t eligible for the list LOL! It’s the “Colonel Bogey March.” from 1914.


Now, I have to give some more honorary mentions for 1 simple reason….Youtube doesn’t have any clips of these songs I wanted to use in the first draft of my list. Granted, 2 of them are damned obscure films that haven’t been remembered well, but, dammit! They’re really good, and I want to at least mention them!

Harry’s War(1981) Music by Merrill Jensen


This extremely rare independent film was in theaters for a 2 week run….however, 3 things make it a great film:


1. The subject. A man named Harry retaliates against the IRS when one of their agents sadistically abuses his power and Harry’s Aunt dies in court as a result. He uses a WW-II Halftrack to “crash” the tv interview of the agent(literally..he drives it through the studio wall), and declares war against the IRS on live television….and fights a valiant last stand against the US Government as a result.


2. The IRS agent was played by none other than David Ogden Stiers(From M.A.S.H. fame) and he’s deliciously nasty as the villain.


3. The music by Merrill Jensen was pure blooded military awesomeness. If you ever have the chance to see this film, it’s great, if a bit dated.


Down Periscope(1997) Music by Randy Edelman


Unfortunately, every Youtube search for the opening credits music…pulls up the end of the film credits that’s basically a music video of the Village People singing “In The Navy.” Which is a pity, as the music by Randy Edelman is quite good. It opens with military drums and a couple of great horn phrases and a solid march tune. Even if the film, itself, is a bit of a guilty pleasure…the music in it is excellent.


Tank(1984) Music by Lalo Schifrin


Here’s a film that’s a lot of fun to watch. James Garner plays an Army Sergeant Major who happens to own a fully functional Sherman Tank from WW-II. When a corrupt sheriff frames his son with a trumped up drug charge and puts him on the “farm,” with a threat to kill him if the Sergeant doesn’t keep feeding the Sheriff bribes, the tank comes off the line, busts his son out of prison, and engages in a great race against the sheriff to the state line. The music is very patriotic sounding, borrowing a bit from both Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith songs that are on the list just ahead.


And on to the main list….


Police Academy Theme(Robert Folk-Police Academy)


Police Academy Theme


I know…you’re thinking, “Who is Robert Folk?” Well, he’s not as well known as many other film composers, but he’s scored over 30 films including this gem. It’s such a great march tune, they made it the official “Police Academy” commencement tune in the film, itself.


Stripes Theme(Elmer Bernstein-Stripes)




Elmer Bernstein is one of the great masters of this particular style of composing, and you’ll see him here again before this list is done. His march for this comic masterpiece with Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy, John Laroquette and Warren Oates hits the marching square perfectly.


Patton Theme(Jerry Goldsmith-Patton)




Jerry Goldsmith penned this inspirational theme. As bold and sure as the General’s opening speech, it makes for great marching.


The Great Escape Overture(Elmer Bernstein-The Great Escape)


The Great Escape


And here’s Elmer Bernstein again with one of the great war themes. In a film based on the real story of a Nazi concentration camp that all the great escape artists are thrown in who, subsequently plan and execute the greatest pow escape in history, the music is powerful and a bit jovial at the same time. You can see the seeds in it that produced the theme to the tv show “Hogan’s Heroes.”


The Right Stuff Theme(Bill Conti-The Right Stuff)


The Right Stuff -It borrows a little bit from Tchaikovsky violin concerto in D Major, Op. 35


This music by Bill Conti is designed for the “slow motion march.” and features in the scene where the Mercury Seven astronauts do a slow determined march towards the camera on their way to light a fire under NASA to get the program into shape.


1776 Overture(Sherman Edwards-1776)




This may be the best “Colonial Style” parade marching music ever done. The drums are magnificent, the horns are bold and the fifes frilly and sharp. It says, “Grab your musket and report to General George Washington, my boy.”


76 Trombones(Meredith Willson-Meredith Willson’s The Music Man)


76 Trombones


And, since the theme here is basically marching music, here’s a splendid marching band tune for High School Marching Bands. I believe it would work for a military marching group too.


Captain America March(Alan Silvestri-Captain America: The First Avenger)


Captain America March

And you want to talk about patriotic? You can’t do much better than Captain America and this tune represents his ideal in grand style.


1941 Theme(John Williams-1941)



What would’ve happened if a Japanese submarine had made it to the West Coast of California after Pearl Harbor looking to bomb Hollywood…and had been met with essentially a civilian response, one bat-shit crazy pilot, 1 horny pilot and a WAC who’s turned on by flying, a juvenile delinquent and a few others?…you’d get one awesome patriotic comedy that needs an epic score….Johnny Williams never lets you down, you know?


The Longest Day Theme(Maurice Jarre-The Longest Day)


The Longest Day


Besides “Saving Private Ryan,” This is the definitive depiction of D-Day in cinema(That I’m aware of) and the music is equally powerful.


The Battle of Britain Theme(Ron Goodwin, William Walton-The Battle of Brittain)


The Battle of Britain


I’m going to give some props to the boys from the UK here because they held their own against the enemy for 3 bloody years before we got our shit together and joined in the fight(See got our asses kicked by the Japanese in a sneak attack….) and this score is jolly marvelous.


Midway Theme(John Williams-Midway)



One of the last films of the great WW-II films era, Midway depicted(what else?) The battle of Midway, the turning point of the war in the Pacific. John Williams delivered another great epic score on this one.


And those are my top 12 film marches that should be real military marches. Did I miss any of your favorites? I’d love to hear what film songs make you want to march, my friends. Peace.

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