Can You Guess the Movie Based on Its Tagline?

By: William J. Wright

7 Min Quiz

Image: Lucasfilm Ltd./ 20th Century-Fox

About This Quiz

Cinema has always resided at the intersection of art and commerce. Cinephiles like to wax romantic about the function of film in the context of society and study every frame of their favorite films for meaning and metaphor. Make no mistake, these are worthy and valid endeavors, but the fact of the matter remains that movies are products. And products exist to be sold (that's why they call it the movie business). An integral part of selling anything, be it a car, cat food or a film is advertising. No doubt, a memorable ad campaign can outlive even a great product. 

One of the most effective components of film advertising is the tagline — a short phrase that hooks an audience and pulls them into the theater. A tagline can be a line of dialogue, a literal summation or a vague phrase, a pithy pun or a single word that captures the spirit of a movie and packages it as a tiny mimetic unit. Composing great taglines is an art, and the line between a good one and bad one is razor thin. One part ballyhoo and one part poetry, taglines are the movie poster equivalent of haiku.

Be afraid, be very afraid because this time, it's personal!  Just when you thought it was safe to take a film quiz, we've assembled a collection of some of the most memorable movies in Hollywood history. Can you match them to their famous taglines? Go ahead. Make our day!


"In space no one can hear you scream" is the tagline from which film?

Ridley Scott and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon set a new standard for claustrophobic horror with 1979's "Alien." Followed by an equally masterful but more action-oriented sequel, the original "Alien" with its iconic creature design by biomechanical artist H.R. Giger is an exercise in pure terror.

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The advertising for this blockbuster '80s comedy asked "Who you gonna call?" Can you name the film with this famous tag line?

An iconic 1980s movie, "Ghostbusters" stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as paranormal exterminators who must save the world from an evi, transdimensional entity. Co-star Dan Aykroyd wrote the script based on his own lifelong interest in the paranormal.

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"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . ." is the tagline for what 1970s sci-fi film?

George Lucas' "Star Wars" quickly evolved from hit movie to cultural milestone capturing the imaginations of moviegoers as no film before. Over forty years after its release, the film and its sequels, prequels and spin-offs are as popular and profitable as ever.

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Can you name the classic movie musical that promised "The happiest sound in the world"?

Released in 1965, "The Sound of Music" is one of the most beloved movie musicals of all time. Featuring the music and lyrics of Rodgers and Hammerstein, the film stars Julie Andrews as the nun Maria. She and the von Trapp family must flee Nazi-occupied Austria.

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"A man went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere" is the tagline for which counterculture favorite?

With a soundtrack of rock hits from Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf and The Band, "Easy Rider" is a touchtone of the1960s counterculture. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (who also directs) star as bikers traversing America who encounter intolerance and tragedy along the way.

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The poster for this notorious horror movie asked "Who will survive and what will be left of them?" Can you name this film?

One of the most intense horror films ever, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" has spawned countless sequels, remakes and rip-offs. Nevertheless, Tobe Hooper's 1974 original retains it power to shock. Focusing on a family of cannibals in rural Texas, this film is not for the faint of heart.

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Can you name the 1940s noir film that told us "From the moment they met it was murder"?

Based on James M. Cain's novella of the same name, Billy Wilder's 1944 masterpiece stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance salesman drawn into a murderous plot by a duplicitous black widow (Barbara Stanwyck). Dark, claustrophobic and thematically bleak, "Double Indemnity" defines film noir.

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Do you remember which historical epic had the tagline "Every man dies, not every man really lives"?

A dramatized retelling of the life of Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace, "Braveheart" garnered director and star Mel Gibson Oscars for best picture and best director in 1995. Rife with historical inaccuracies, "Braveheart" is nonetheless a stunning and inspirational film.

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This 1990s comedy used the blunt truism "Work sucks" as a tagline. Can you name it?

Mike Judge's razor sharp satire of the American workplace "Office Space" was a box office failure on its 1999 release, however, it has since become a much loved cult movie. Based on Judge's animated "Milton" shorts, the film lampoons the soul-crushing nature of cubicle culture.

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Which movie's tagline asks "Where do you go when the record is over"?

Marking the peak of the 1970s disco craze, "Saturday Night Fever" features John Travolta in his star making role as blue collar kid turned king of the dance floor Tony Manero. With an electrifying soundtrack by the Bee Gees, the film rivaled "Star Wars" as 1977's cinematic event.

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Which 1968 film promised "The ultimate trip"?

Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" fuses science with philosophy. Presenting complex questions about mankind's origins and its future, the film eschews the fantasy trappings of Hollywood science fiction for a serious tone rooted in a realistic depiction of space travel that remains unrivaled.

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"Mischief. Mayhem. Soap." is the tagline of which film?

Based on Chuck Palahniuk's controversial 1996 novel, "Fight Club" stars Edward Norton as a frustrated man unfulfilled by his mundane, white collar existence. His life is turned upside down by a charismatic soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) who shows him a new way to live.

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Which Disney classic reminds us "Midnight never strikes when you're in love"?

Following a string of underperforming films in the '40s, Walt Disney's "Cinderella" released in 1950 was the studio's biggest hit since "Snow White." Based in part on "Cendrillon," Charles Perrault's 15th century adaptation of the venerable fairytale, "Cinderella" is classic Disney at its best.

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Can you name the blockbuster sports film with the tagline "His whole life was a million to one shot"?

"Rocky" stars Sylvester Stallone as a small time fighter who gets a shot at the heavyweight championship. The film, directed by John G. Avildsen, won the Academy Award for best picture in 1977 and earned Stallone, who wrote the script, a nomination for best screenplay.

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"Family isn't a word, it's a sentence" in this quirky comedy. Can you ID this film?

A family of prodigies deals with the realities of love and failure when their emotionally distant father attempts reconciliation in "The Royal Tenenbaums." Director Anderson's signature quirky visual style is balanced with sensitive and often hilarious performances from an all star cast.

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"Nothing on Earth could come between them" is the tagline of which epic disaster movie?

Set against the backdrop of one of the deadliest disasters in maritime history, James Cameron's epic romance "Titanic" is one of the most profitable films in cinematic history. A technical tour de force, Cameron spared no expense in recreating the historic sinking of the doomed ocean liner.

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Which iconic comedy chronicles "One man's struggle to take it easy"?

John Hughes' "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" stars Matthew Broderick as the eponymous Ferris, a high school folk hero who'll go to any lengths for a good time. With his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and his down in the dumps bestie Cameron (Alan Ruck), Ferris plays hookie in grand style.

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This modern horror classic is the story of "The Night HE came home." Can you name this frightening flick?

John Carpenter took a simple, scary story and created the stuff of nightmares for a generation with 1978's "Halloween." Jamie Lee Curtis stars as Laurie Strode, a babysitter stalked by a masked maniac on Halloween night. A groundbreaking film, "Halloween" set the tone for horror for the next decade.

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This nostalgic film asks the question "Where were you in '62?" Can you name this movie?

George Lucas had his first hit movie with 1973's "American Graffiti." Based in part on Lucas' own youth growing up in the cruising culture of early 1960s Modesto, California, the film kicked off the '70s obsession with '50s nostalgia thanks in part to its soundtrack of early rock 'n' roll hits.

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"Reality is a thing of the past" in this action-packed cyberpunk thriller. Can you name this film?

Filmmaking sisters the Wachowskis ripped the veil off of cyberspace in the 1999 sci-fi action thriller "The Matrix." Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, an ordinary man who becomes an enslaved humanity's hope for salvation when learns reality is a complex simulation run by sentient machines.

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Can you name the crime picture with the tagline "They're young, they're in love and they kill people"?

"Bonnie and Clyde," directed by Arthur Penn stars Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as real life outlaw couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Chronicling the events of Parker and Barrow's infamous 1930s crime spree, the stylized and violent "Bonnie and Clyde" marked a revolution in filmmaking.

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Which '90s indie comedy had this tagline: "Just because they serve you . . . Doesn't mean they like you"?

"Clerks," Kevin Smith's 1994 paean to the "over-the-counter-culture" launched a young New Jersey-born filmmaker from obscurity to indie film royalty. Based on Smith's own life as a convenience store clerk, the film's sharp dialogue and scatalogical humor have made it a comedy classic.

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Can you remember which film had the poignant tagline "The first casualty of war is innocence"?

With "Platoon," Oliver Stone became the first Vietnam veteran to direct a film about the war. Based in part on Stone's experiences, the film was hailed by critics for its realism. Stone would revisit the war, albeit from different perspectives, in "Born on the 4th of July" and "Heaven and Earth".

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Which sci-fi movie based on a popular TV show used the inspiring tagline "The human adventure is just beginning" on its posters?

Directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker Robert Wise 1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" marked the big screen debut of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. Initially criticized for its lumbering pace, contemporary criticism has recast the film as an underrated entry in the "Trek" franchise.

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Which two-fisted action flick advertised with the tagline "The dancing's over. Now it gets dirty"?

1989's "Road House" had "Dirty Dancing" hunk Patrick Swayze trading his dance floor moves for the martial arts. Swayze stars as Dalton, a philosophical barroom cooler hired to clean up a rowdy roadside bar. Running afoul of the local criminal element, he soon finds himself in the fight of his life.

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"Good girls want him bad. Bad girls want him worse" is the tagline from which comedy set in the 1950s?

Baltimore's "pope of trash" followed up his (nearly) family friendly hit "Hairspray" with 1990's "Cry-Baby." In the film, Johnny Depp subverts his teen idol image as the film's titular antagonist Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker leader of a gang of juvenile delinquents in the 1950s.

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"Love means never having to say you're sorry" in this tearjerker. Can you ID this movie from its tagline?

Based on Erich Segal's bestselling novel, 1970's "Love Story" features Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw as young lovers from opposite sides of the tracks. A box office smash, the film is considered one of the most romantic movies ever made. It was followed by a 1978 sequel titled "Oliver's Story."

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This sci-fi horror film warned us "Be afraid. Be very afraid." Can you name it?

David Cronenberg's 1986 remake of the sci-fi horror classic "The Fly" stars Jeff Goldblum as scientist Seth Brundle, a brilliant physicist who invents a practical matter transporter. However, he finds himself undergoing a gruesome transformation when he uses the device on himself.

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Which movie's poster warned us "They won't stay dead"?

In 1967, George Romero gathered a group of friends and colleagues to make a feature film. The unlikely result was 1968's "Night of the Living Dead," a terrifying tale of an assault by flesh eating zombies on a rural farmhouse and one of the most important horror films of the century.

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The knucklehead hero of this horror fantasy cult hit is "Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on Gas." Based on this tagline, can you name the movie?

B movie icon Bruce Campbell made his third appearance as the hapless demon fighter Ash Williams in 1992's "Army of Darkness." The third film in director Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" trilogy finds loveable blowhard Ash trapped in the Middle Ages leading a pair of warring kingdoms in a battle against evil.

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"He's out to prove he's got nothing to prove" is the tagline from which 2004 comedy?

Jon Heder stars as a socially awkward teen making his way through life with his misfit friends and family in 2004's "Napoleon Dynamite." Heder's portrayal of uber-nerd Napoleon is an endearing blend of cringe and heart that comes off as alternately hilarious and real.

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Which film's tagline is "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water . . . "?

Roy Scheider returned as Chief Brody to face off against another killer great white in the 1978 sequel "Jaws 2." Although it lacks Steven Spielberg's directorial touch, "Jaws 2," nevertheless contains much of its predecessor's spirit if not its genius.

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"You won't know the facts until you've seen the fiction" is the tagline from which '90s hit film?

Quentin Tarantino's 1994 masterpiece "Pulp Fiction" brought nonlinear storytelling and crackling, pop culture-infused dialogue to the modern crime film. It also revived the career of 1970s icon John Travolta who contributed his best performance since "Saturday Night Fever" as gangster Vincent Vega.

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Can you name the superhero movie that promised "You'll believe a man can fly"?

Richard Donner brought the definitive cinematic interpretation of the iconic hero Superman to life with 1978's "Superman: The Movie." The late Christopher Reeves stars as the iconic man of steel in a performance that captures both the heroics and the humanity of the classic comic book character.

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Can you name the science fiction blockbuster with the tagline that told us "We are not alone"?

Richard Dreyfuss stars as an average man whose life is thrown into turmoil after he encounters an alien spacecraft in Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters." Never letting special effects overwhelm the performances of his cast, Spielberg uses the UFO phenomenon to tell a wholly human story.

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