Can You Guess The Most Popular Movies of All Time From a Single Sentence Summary?


By: J.P. Naomi

6 Min Quiz

Image: Paramount Pictures / 20th Century Fox / Lightstorm Entertainment

About This Quiz

For over a century, people have been going to the movies and indulging in bags and buckets of buttered popcorn for a quick escape into a world outside of their own lives. From classics like "Gone with the Wind" and "Titanic," to "Forrest Gump" and "The Shawshank Redemption," can you guess the most popular movies of all-time from a single sentence summary?

Though movies started out as silent and in black-and-white (hence the moniker "silver screen,")  they would soon develop into major motion pictures filled with color and booming sound. From enormous dance numbers to alien invasions, anything is possible in the world of cinema!

While some films have faded into obscurity over the years, many others have left a permanent mark on the film industry. As early as 1939, moviegoers fell in love with Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in "Gone with the Wind." In 1997, another love story, the timeless favorite, "Titanic," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, won the hearts of the public. Millions of people have spent decades signing up to join the adventures in the "Star Wars" franchise. 

If you think you're the ultimate movie buff, take this quiz to see how much you really know!

A young woman is picked up with her dog by a tornado in Kansas and plopped into a magical land.

Starring Judy Garland, "The Wizard of Oz" was released on August 25, 1939. It was based on the children's novel, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum.


A criminal rebels against a mean nurse at a mental institute and rallies the scared patients.

Starring Jack Nicholson, this film was released on November 19, 1975. It was directed by Milos Forman and won all five major Oscars. Instead of being filmed on a set, it was filmed at an actual state mental hospital.


During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power failure, and its dinosaur exhibits go rogue.

"Jurassic Park" was based on a novel by Michael Crichton. In fact, the film rights to the book were purchased before it was even published. It was a whopping success at the box office, bringing in more than $1 billion.


A waitress falls in love with an ex-con as they run across the country violently robbing banks together until the very end.

"Bonnie and Clyde" was released on August 13, 1967. It was directed by Arthur Penn and produced by Warren Beatty, who also starred as Clyde. It was based on the lives of two actual American criminals who functioned as violent robbers during the Great Depression.


A troubled child finds the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home planet.

When Steven Spielberg was young, he made up an imaginary friend after his parents got divorced. This eventually morphed into the story of a boy's friendship with a lost alien, the titular E.T.


During the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods, an arrogant and manipulative woman and a rough-edged man have a tumultuous romance.

"Gone with the Wind" was the first film in which a black actor won an Academy Award. The Best Supporting Actress Award went to Hattie McDaniel for her role as "Mammy."


An aging patriarch of an organized crime family gives control of his criminal empire to his somewhat reluctant son.

"The Godfather" was released on March 24, 1972 in the United States. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starred Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. The American Film Institute ranked it the second-greatest film of all time in American cinema.


A group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a fellow American soldier whose brothers have been killed in action.

"Saving Private Ryan" was directed by Steven Spielberg. The first twenty-seven minutes of the film are entirely devoted to showing troops landing during the Invasion of Normandy.


During World War II, a businessman helps save many Jews from the Holocaust by employing them as factory workers.

"Schindler's List" was released on November 30, 1993. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Liam Neeson. The movie was about Oskar Schildler, who saved many hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust. Spielberg, who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, ended up founding The Shoah Foundation after making "Schindler's List."


An archaeologist is hired by the U.S. government to find a gold-covered wooden chest before the Nazis can get to it.

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" was released in 1981 and directed by Steven Spielberg. It was the first installment of the Indiana Jones film franchise.


An British officer unites and leads Arab tribes during World War I to fight the Turks.

"Lawrence of Arabia" was a historical drama based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was released on December 10, 1962. The 222-minute long film is considered one of the greatest movies ever made.


Two imprisoned men bond and find comfort through acts of basic human kindness.

"The Shawshank Redemption" was written and directed by Frank Darabont. It starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The film was based on a novella by Stephen King, "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption." That, in turn, was vaguely based on a Leo Tolstoy short story.


A simple man with a low IQ waits at a bus stop and shares life stories with strangers.

Winston Groom, the author of the book on which the screenplay was based, only made $350,000 for selling those rights. "Forrest Gump" was made on a $55 million budget and grossed more than $677 million at the box office to put things in perspective.


A 17-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind (but financially insecure) artist aboard a luxurious, ill-fated ship.

"Titanic" was released on December 19, 1997 in the United States. It grossed more than $2 billion at the box office. Not only that, but it tied "Ben-Hur" for the most Oscars won by a single movie; eleven, to be exact!


A servant in a house tells a traveler the unfortunate tale of lovers, Cathy and Heathcliff.

The most famous film adaptation of "Wuthering Heights" was released in 1939 and starred Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. It was directed by William Wyler. The book it was based on was written by Emily Bronte, whose pen name was Ellis Bell.


An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperate man by showing him what life would have been like if he had never been born.

Released on January 7, 1947, "It's a Wonderful Life" starred James Stewart and Donna Reed. It was directed by Frank Capra. Despite it's high-profile stars and director, the movie didn't do very well at the box office. However, it's since become a movie staple of the Christmas season.


A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess in the employ of a widowed naval officer.

"The Sound of Music" was based on the Broadway musical of the same name. It was written by Rogers and Hammerstein, and starred Julie Andrews. It was loosely based on the true story of the Trapp family.


Two male musicians hide from the mob, disguised as women in an all-female band.

Released in 1959, "Some Like It Hot" was a romantic comedy starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The movie, which covered some taboo topics, was such a success that it's believed to be instrumental in ending adherence to the Hays Code in Hollywood.


An ex-professional boxer turned longshoreman has trouble standing up to his corrupt union managers.

Directed by Elia Kazan, "On the Waterfront" starred Marlon Brando and was released on June 22, 1954. Unlike most films, this was partially based on a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles from the New York Sun.


In another galaxy, a young man joins forces with unlikely partners in an attempt to rescue a princess from an evil force.

The Star Wars film, "Episode IV - A New Hope," was released on May 25, 1977. It was written and directed by George Lucas and was originally the first Star Wars movie. It was renamed after a prequel trilogy was released in 1999.


After the death of a publishing tycoon, reporters rush to figure out the meaning of his cryptic final words.

Directed by Orson Welles, "Citizen Kane" was released in 1941 and also starred Orson Welles.


A mentally unstable Vietnam vet works at night in New York City, attempting to save a child prostitute in the process.

"Taxi Driver" was released on February 8, 1976 and was directed by Martin Scorsese. It starred Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster. The casting of Jodie Foster as a prostitute (at only twelve years old) was controversial when the film was released.


A young woman on the run for stealing money from her boss encounters a young man managing a secluded motel under the iron thumb of his mother.

Released in 1960, "Psycho" was directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. Many consider it the first "slasher" horror film.


The story of Mozart, as told by his rival, Antonio Salieri, who is now in an insane asylum.

Directed by Milos Forman, "Amadeus" received an astonishing 40 awards, including eight Academy Awards. It's considered by critics and public alike to be one of the best films of all time.


A young F.B.I. agent receives help from an imprisoned cannibal in order to catch a serial killer who skins his victims.

Starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, "The Silence of the Lambs" was released in 1991. It was also one of three films (at that time) to win all five major Academy Awards.


Set in 1941, a cynical American expat runs into a former love interest abroad with unforeseen moral complications.

"Casablanca" was directed by Michael Curtiz and released at the beginning of 1943 to take advantage of the fact that it takes place in North Africa, and the Allies had invaded the area weeks before. It was made on a small budget of just $878,000.


A Roman betrays his friend, a Jewish prince, and sends him into slavery.

"Ben-Hur" was directed by William Wyler. It starred Charlton Heston, and the film was three hours and 32 minutes long.


A crazy general triggers a path to nuclear disaster that a room full of major political players and military men frantically try to stop.

"Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" is a 1964 political satire/black comedy focused on the Cold War. It was directed by Stanley Kubrick. All three key roles were played by Peter Sellers.


A screenwriter is hired to fix a former silent film star's script only to find himself caught in a dangerous relationship.

The original title was abbreviated as "Sunset Blvd." It is also known as "Sunset Boulevard" spelled out. It starred Gloria Swanson, who had been one of the most famous stars of the silent film era.


A Roman general seeks revenge after he is betrayed, and his family murdered, by an emperor's son.

Directed by Ridley Scott, "Gladiator" was released on May 1, 2000. Almost 30,000 pieces of armor were manufactured for the film. The film won multiple Oscars at the 73rd Academy Awards.


A private investigator is hired to expose an affair and finds himself caught in the middle of lies and murder.

"Chinatown" starred Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The story was based on the California Water Wars. It was released on June 20, 1974 and directed by Roman Polanski, who is still considered a fugitive from the law in the United States.


A violent-tempered boxer makes his way to the top and leaves his old life behind.

"Raging Bull" is a biographical black and white film based on the story of Jack LaMotta. It was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Robert De Niro.


Two men fall in love with the same woman in a city in France.

This 1951 film directed by Vincente Minnelli was inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. It starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.


During the Vietnam War, a captain is sent on a mission into the jungle to find and kill a colonel who's gone rogue.

Directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, "Apocalypse Now" was based on the Joseph Conrad novella, "Heart of Darkness." It starred Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall.


As silent films go the way of the horse-drawn buggy, a production company and actors must transition to the world of "talkies."

Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, "Singin' in the Rain" starred Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Conner. It is considered by many to be the greatest musical film ever made and one of the best films, in general, ever made.


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