For over a century, people have gone to the movies and indulged in bags and buckets of buttered popcorn as a quick escape into a world outside their own lives. Can you guess the most popular films of all time based on a single-sentence synopsis? Can you name them all, from "Gone with the Wind" and "Titanic" to "Forrest Gump" and "The Shawshank Redemption"?
Though movies began silent and in black-and-white, they quickly evolved into major motion pictures with vibrant colors and booming sound. In cinema, anything is possible, from massive dance numbers to alien invasions!
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A tornado in Kansas picks up a young woman and her dog and transports them to a magical land.
The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film directed by Frank Capra and produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. L. has been adapted. The film is based on Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s fantasy novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and it stars Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton. It was primarily directed by Victor Fleming (who left the production to take over the troubled Gone with the Wind). It stars Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton.
A criminal revolts against a cruel nurse at a mental institution, rallying the terrified patients.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Milo Forman directed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a 1975 American psychological comedy-drama film based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel. The film stars Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy, a new patient at a mental institution. Also, it stars Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson, Danny DeVito, Sydney Lassick, William Redfield, Christopher Lloyd, and Brad Dourif, both of whom are making their film debuts. Filming began in January 1975 and lasted three months, with locations in Salem, Oregon, the surrounding area, and Depoe Bay on Oregon’s north coast.
A theme park experiences a major power outage during a preview tour, and its dinosaur exhibits go rogue.
Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction action film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy. It is the first film in the Jurassic Park original trilogy and the first installment in the Jurassic Park franchise. It is based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel of the same name and a screenplay by Crichton and David Koepp. The story takes place on the fictitious island of Isla Nublar, located off Central America’s Pacific Coast near Costa Rica. There, wealthy businessman John Hammond and a team of genetic scientists have created a dinosaur wildlife park.
A waitress falls in love with an ex-con while they rob banks violently across the country until the end.
Bonnie and Clyde
During the Great Depression, Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were an American criminal couple who roamed the Central United States with their gang. The duo was well-known for bank robberies, although they preferred robing small stores or rural funeral homes. Their exploits grabbed the American press’s and its readers’ attention between 1931 and 1934, during what is sometimes referred to as the “public enemy age,” until the pair was ambushed and shot to death in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. They are suspected of killing at least nine police officers and four civilians.
A troubled boy finds the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home planet.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, also known as E.T., is a 1982 American science fiction movie that Steven Spielberg produced, directed, and wrote. It tells the tale of Elliott, a young boy who makes friends with an alien named E.T., who is abandoned on Earth. Elliott has to work with his friends and family to help E.T. on his way back home. Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, and Dee Wallace appear in the movie. After his parents’ divorce, Spielberg made an imaginary friend who served as the inspiration for the movie’s plot. Spielberg and Mathison connected in 1980, using the unfinished script for Night Skies to create a new story.
A manipulative and arrogant woman and a rough-edged man have a tumultuous romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.
Gone with the Wind
Gone With the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Victor Fleming and produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures. Set in the American South during the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era, the film follows Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner, through her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), who is married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland), and her subsequent marriage to Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). The production of the film was fraught with difficulties.
An aging patriarch of a criminal family gives control of his criminal empire to his reluctant son.
The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and co-written by Mario Puzo, based on Puzo’s best-selling 1969 novel of the same name. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton starred in the film. It is the first part of The Godfather trilogy. The story spans from 1945 to 1955 and follows the Corleone family under patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando), focusing on the transformation of his youngest son, Michael Corleone (Pacino), from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss. Before the novel became popular, Paramount Pictures purchased the rights for $80,000.
A group of US soldiers goes behind enemy lines to find a fellow American soldier whose brothers were killed.
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set during the Battle of Normandy in World War II, the film is known for its graphic portrayal of war, especially its depiction of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings. The film follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad (Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) as they search for a paratrooper, Private first class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), the last surviving brother of four, the three other brothers having been killed in action. The film was a co-production between DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Mutual Film Company. DreamWorks distributed the film in North America while Paramount released the film internationally.
A woman leaves an Austrian convent to work as a governess for a widowed naval officer.
The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise, and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, with Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Charmian Carr, and Eleanor Parker. The film is an adaptation of the 1959 stage musical of the same name, composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The film’s screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman, adapted from the stage musical’s book by Lindsay and Crouse. Based on the 1949 memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young Austrian postulant in Salzburg, Austria, in 1938 who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to be governess to his seven children.
During WWII, a businessman assists in the rescue of many Jews from the Holocaust by hiring them as factory workers.
Schindler’s List is a 1993 American epic historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the 1982 non-fiction novel Schindler’s Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. The film follows Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern. Ideas for a film about the Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews) were proposed as early as 1963.
The US government hires an archaeologist to locate a gold-covered wooden chest before the Nazis do.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, and Denholm Elliott. Ford portrays Indiana Jones, a globe-trotting archaeologist vying with Nazi German forces in 1936 to recover the long-lost Ark of the Covenant, a relic said to make an army invincible. Teaming up with his tough former lover Marion Ravenwood (Allen), Jones races to stop rival archaeologist Dr. René Belloq (Freeman) from guiding the Nazis to the Ark and its power. Lucas conceived Raiders of the Lost Ark in the early 1970s. Seeking to modernize the serial films of the early 20th century, he developed the idea further with Kaufman, who suggested the Ark as the film’s goal.
During World War I, a British officer unites and leads Arab tribes in their fight against the Turks.
All Quiet on the Western Front
Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic historical drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence and his 1926 book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel, through his British company Horizon Pictures, and distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film stars Peter O’Toole as Lawrence with Alec Guinness playing Prince Faisal. The film also stars Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, and Arthur Kennedy. The screenplay was written by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film depicts Lawrence’s experiences in the Ottoman Empire’s provinces of Hejaz and Greater Syria during World War I, in particular his attacks on Aqaba and Damascus and his involvement in the Arab National Council.
Two imprisoned men form a bond and find comfort in acts of basic human kindness.
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the 1982 Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murders of his wife and her lover, despite his claims of innocence. Over the following two decades, he befriends a fellow prisoner, contraband smuggler Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and becomes instrumental in a money-laundering operation led by the prison warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton). William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, and James Whitmore appear in supporting roles.
A simple man with a low IQ waits at a bus stop and tells strangers about his life.
Forrest Gump is a 1994 American comedy-drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth. It is based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom and stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson and Sally Field. The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump (Hanks), a slow-witted and kindhearted man from Alabama who witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th-century United States. The film differs substantially from the novel. Principal photography took place between August and December 1993, mainly in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Extensive visual effects were used to incorporate Hanks into archived footage and to develop other scenes. The soundtrack features songs reflecting the different periods seen in the film.
On a luxurious, ill-fated ship, a 17-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind (but financially insecure) artist.
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. Incorporating both historical and fictionalized aspects, it is based on accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. Also starring are Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Victor Garber, and Bill Paxton. Cameron’s inspiration for the film came from his fascination with shipwrecks; he felt a love story interspersed with the human loss would be essential to convey the emotional impact of the disaster.
A servant in a house tells a traveler the tragic story of Cathy and Heathcliff.
Wuthering Heights is a 1939 American romantic period drama film directed by William Wyler, produced by Samuel Goldwyn, starring Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier and David Niven, and based on the 1847 novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. The film depicts only 16 of the novel’s 34 chapters, eliminating the second generation of characters. The novel was adapted for the screen by Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht, and John Huston. The supporting cast features Flora Robson and Geraldine Fitzgerald. It was primarily filmed in Thousand Oaks, California, with scenes shot in Wildwood Regional Park and at the current site of California Lutheran University. The film won the 1939 New York Film Critics Award for Best Film. It earned nominations for eight Academy Awards.
An angel from Heaven is sent out to assist a desperate man by demonstrating what life would have been like if he had never been born.
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, which Philip Van Doren Stern self-published in 1943 and is in turn loosely based on the 1843 Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol. The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his personal dreams, in order to help others in his community, and whose thoughts of suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers).
Two male musicians disguised as women in an all-female band to hide from the mob.
Some Like it Hot
Some Like It Hot is a 1959 American romantic comedy film directed, produced and co-written by Billy Wilder. It stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, with George Raft, Pat O’Brien, Joe E. Brown, Joan Shawlee, Grace Lee Whitney and Nehemiah Persoff in supporting roles. The screenplay by Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond is based on a screenplay by Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan from the 1935 French film Fanfare of Love. The film is about two musicians who disguise themselves by dressing as women to escape from mafia gangsters whom they witnessed committing a crime.
An ex-professional boxer turned longshoreman has difficulty confronting his corrupt union managers.
On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront is a 1954 American crime drama film, directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando and features Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning, and Eva Marie Saint in her film debut. The musical score was composed by Leonard Bernstein. The film was inspired by “Crime on the Waterfront” by Malcolm Johnson, a series of articles published in November–December 1948 in the New York Sun which won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, but the screenplay by Budd Schulberg is directly based on his own original story. The film focuses on union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen, while detailing widespread corruption, extortion, and racketeering on the waterfronts of Hoboken, New Jersey.
In another galaxy, a young man teams up with unlikely allies to save a princess from an evil force.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Star Wars (retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first film in the Star Wars film series and fourth chronological chapter of the “Skywalker Saga”. Set “a long time ago” in a fictional universe where the galaxy is ruled by the tyrannical Galactic Empire, the story focuses on a group of freedom fighters known as the Rebel Alliance, who aim to destroy the Empire’s newest weapon, the Death Star. Luke Skywalker becomes caught in the conflict while learning the ways of a metaphysical power known as “the Force” from Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.
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