Can You Name These Movies That Are Considered Almost Flawless?
By: William J. Wright
Image: Paramount Pictures
About This Quiz
Some films seem as comfortable as an old pair of jeans. These movies are the cinematic equivalent of comfort. You put them on or tune them in and let them run in the background to provide the soundtrack for your day. You don't need to watch them too carefully because you know every line of dialogue and every musical cue — they're imprinted on your soul. Other movies demand your complete and undivided attention. The story's too compelling, the effects are too amazing or the characters are too perfectly realized to look away from for an even frame, even if you've seen it a million times. These movies are flawless. They work their way into our psyches as only great art can and become a part of us. And often, they become as equally relevant to the culture at large. Movies, at their best, are our modern myths. The truly great ones become a kind of cultural shorthand for ideas and issues outside their context.
The films in this quiz range from romantic comedies to cult horror flicks and every genre in between. The only common denominator is their near perfection. Equally acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, these films are endlessly quotable and perennially watchable. Grab your overpriced popcorn because we're saving you the aisle seat for 40 flawless movies. Can you name them all?
Life finds a way in this sci-fi favorite. Can you name it?
In 1993, filmmaker Steven Spielberg ushered in a new era of special effects technology with "Jurassic Park." Based on Michael Crichton's 1990 novel, the film focuses on a revolutionary theme park in which genetically engineered dinosaurs are the main attraction. What could go wrong?
Let's rev this quiz up to 1.21 gigawatts! Can you ID this '80s sci-fi comedy?
"Back to the Future"
Reluctant time traveler Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) finds himself trapped in the '50s in 1985's "Back to the Future." Directed by Robert Zemeckis, "Back to the Future" was one of the biggest hits of the '80s spawning two equally popular sequels and a theme park ride.
One of history's greatest disasters is the backdrop to a doomed romance in this drama. What's its title?
"The Towering Inferno"
1997's "Titanic" made director James Cameron the box office's king of the world. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as star-crossed lovers who cross class lines to find romance on the doomed maiden voyage of the Titanic. It remains one of the highest grossing films of all time.
Can you ID this inconceivable fantasy film from 1987?
"The Princess Bride"
Rob Reiner's 1987 cinematic adaptation of William Goldman's book "The Princess Bride" is one of the most beloved and quoted films of all time. Framed as a story read to a sick little boy (Fred Savage) by his grandfather (Peter Falk), the film is a witty and sly subversion of fairy tale tropes.
This sci-fi sequel surpases its record-breaking predecessor for many of this franchise's fans. Can you ID this movie?
"The Empire Strikes Back"
With "The Empire Strikes Back," "Star Wars" creator George Lucas handed the directing reins to Irvin Kershner. Balancing the eye-popping special effects of the first film with mature characterization and plotting, Kershner delivers a film that's dramatically superior to its predecessor.
Do you know the title of this classic romantic comedy?
"You've Got Mail"
"When Harry Met Sally"
The complex and often hilarious dynamics of romance are put under the microscope in Rob Reiner's 1989 comedy "When Harry Met Sally." Written by Nora Ephron, the film stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as their relationship evolves from disdain to true love through a series of chance encounters.
1939's "Gone With the Wind" stars Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy plantation owner who must overcome hardship and loss when the Civil War changes her life forever. Adjusted for inflation, "Gone With the Wind" remains the most profitable film in history.
Nothing is more important than family in this crime drama. What's the title of this film?
Francis Ford Coppola's crime drama "The Godfather" was an instant hit upon its release in 1972. Perhaps the only legitimate rival to "Citizen Kane" for the title of best film ever made, "The Godfather's" combination of flawless direction and perfect performances make it a classic for the ages.
Can you name this film about a simple man who improbably winds up at some of the most important events of the last half of the 20th century?
Loosely based on Winston Groom's 1986 novel, Robert Zemeckis' Oscar Winning "Forrest Gump" was the cinematic phenomenon of 1994. A sentimental and sincere portrait of a simple man's improbably charmed life, the movie cemented Tom Hanks' reputation as America's favorite actor.
Do you remember this film about a man with an unconquerable spirit?
"The Shawshank Redemption"
Based on a novella by Stephen King," Frank Darabont's 1994 hit "The Shawshank Redemption" stars Tim Robbins as a wrongly convicted man who meticulously plans a daring escape. Considered a bomb during its theatrical release, the film found its audience on home video and TV.
Back off, man! Bill Murray's a smooth talking scientist in this blockbuster comedy. Can you name this movie?
"Ghostbusters" is a near perfect comedy. Written by co-star Dan Aykroyd and rooted in his own lifelong obsession with the paranormal, "Ghostbusters" is an outrageous blend of stellar comedic performances and special effects wizardry. An essential film, it's become an indelible part of pop culture.
What's the title of this thriller that scared a generation out of the water?
Director Steven Spielberg virtually created the summer blockbuster with his 1975 thriller "Jaws." Base on Peter Benchley's 1974 novel about a killer great white shark that terrorizes a New England resort town, the suspenseful film frightened movie fans out of the water for decades.
In one of his signature roles, Harrison Ford dons a fedora and whip in which movie?
"Romancing the Stone"
"Raiders of the Lost Ark"
Directed by Steven Spielberg, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" introduced audiences to Indiana Jones. It was the highest-grossing movie of 1981 and received a best picture nomination. Indy returned for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
This classic film ends with the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Can you name it?
"To Have and Have Not"
"The Maltese Falcon"
"The Big Sleep"
The 1942 wartime drama "Casablanca" is easily one of the greatest films ever made. In a signature role, Humphrey Bogart stars as Rick Blaine, a man torn between the love of his life and doing the right thing. An endlessly quotable movie, "Casablanca" is essential viewing for cinephiles.
Debbie Reynolds danced into our hearts in which of these musicals?
"An American in Paris"
"Meet Me in St. Louis"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Alongside Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds gave us one of the most beloved movie musical moments ever — the iconic "Good Morning" tap dance. Ever since it opened in 1952, "Singin' in the Rain" has been an audience favorite.
It's hard to believe now, but "Dirty Dancing" was considered a surprise hit and had little support from its distributor Vestron who planned to dump the film to home video after a one week release. Strong word-of-mouth and dedicated fans, however, made it one of the top grossing films of 1987.
Can you name this 1988 movie that introduced audiences to a different kind of action hero?
"The Last Boy Scout"
Although the debate rages as to whether "Die Hard" is a holiday movie, nearly everyone is in agreement that it's one of the smartest action movies of the 1980s. The 1988 film introduced audiences to wisecracking, everyman cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) who would return in four sequels.
This one might be one of your favorite things. Can you name it?
"My Fair Lady"
"The Sound of Music"
The hills are alive whenever you pop on this Julie Andrews classic. It's full of songs that you just can't help singing along to — "I Have Confidence," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and "Edelweiss," to name a few. The 1965 musical won five Academy Awards, including best picture.
Can you identify this trippy comedy about a zenned-out slacker who gets wrapped up in a kidnapping plot?
"The Beach Bim"
"Up in Smoke"
"The Big Lebowski"
"The Big Lebowski" is that rare film that's transcended its cult status to become a way of life for its dedicated fans. Jeff Bridges stars as Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, a laid back bowler who bumbles his way into a mystery complete with mistaken identities, a kidnapped heiress and nihilists.
This beloved film has enchanted generations of moviegoers. Can you ID this classic family movie?
"The Wizard of Oz"
Based on L. Frank Baum's book series, the "The Wizard of Oz" stars Judy Garland as Kansas farmgirl Dorothy Gale. Dorothy longs for an escape from her drab life, but when a cyclone transports her to a mysterious land of magic, she learns that there's truly no place like home.
Can you identify this sci-fi fantasy film that had audiences packing the theaters in 1982?
"Mac and Me"
"Flight of the Navigator"
"E.T. the Extraterrestrial"
Steven Spielberg owned the '80s box office. In 1982, he followed up his runaway hit "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with "E.T. The Extraterrestrial." Based in part on the director's own childhood imaginary friend, "E.T." is the story of a lonely boy who befriends a stranded alien botanist.
This John Hughes classic has charmed audiences since it opened in 1986. Can you name it?
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
John Hughes made teen movies must-see in the 1980s with a string of hits, including "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." There's nothing like watching Matthew Broderick's Ferris spend the day exploring Chicago.
It's just not the holidays without this classic playing a couple of dozen times on TV. What's the title of this movie?
"Shop Around the Corner"
"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
"It's a Wonderful Life"
Frank Capra's 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life" has become synonymous with the holiday season. Considered a flop on its initial release, the film found new life on syndicated television in the 1970s and '80s. Now considered a classic, "It's a Wonderful Life" is essential holiday viewing.
This bittersweet coming of age tale launched the careers of several young actors. What's the title of this film?
"Stand by Me"
The cast of "Stand By Me" is a who's who of young acting talent including Wil Wheaton, the late River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. In the film, based on Stephen King's novella "The Body," four boys find the meaning of friendship while searching for the dead body of a missing child.
Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott bring '90s flair to the well-worn Western material of the historical Gunfight at the O.K. Coral in "Tombstone." In the film, Russell stars as lawman Wyatt Earp whose attempt to settle down to a normal life is disrupted by a band of outlaws called the Cowboys.
We're hopelessly devoted to this nostalgic 1978 movie. Can you ID it based on this scene?
The wave of 1950s nostalgia that began with "American Graffiti" reached its pinnacle in 1978 with the blockbuster musical "Grease." With the undeniable chemistry of stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton John and an unbeatable soundtrack, "Grease" remains one of the most popular musicals ever.
This nonlinear crime film is remembered for its unabashed violence and bristling dialogue. What's this movie's title?
Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" established the writer-director as the '90s king of independent film. With its focus on crackling dialogue laced with endless pop culture call-backs, Tarantino brought his personal obsessions to the screen garnering him an Oscar for best original screenplay.
Based on this image, can you identify this classic comedy?
Having already skewered the western genre with 1974's "Blazing Saddles," funnyman Mel Brooks turned his comedic lens on horror film with "Young Frankenstein." The film, which treads a fine line between parody and homage, wears Brooks' affection for the Universal monster movies on its sleeve.
Surely, you remember this hilarious 1980 movie. What's its title?
"History of the World, Part I"
Filmmakers Jerry and David Zucker and Jim Abrahams brought a new level of absurdism to movie comedy with 1980's "Airplane!" A send-up of '70s disaster movies, "Airplane!" is an hilarious mix of sight gags, puns and sharp, memorable dialogue. Leslie Nielsen co-stars in his first comedic role.
This animated feature started it all for Walt Disney. What's the title of this classic?
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" began Walt Disney Productions' reign as the undisputed masters of animation. Considered a risk at the time, Walt Disney trusted his instincts that audiences would line up for a feature length animated film. His hunch continues to pay off into the 21st century.
A bullied teen finds a mentor and his balance in this 1984 blockbuster. Can you ID this film?
"The Karate Kid"
"The Karate Kid" is one of those films that every '80s kid knows by heart. Part martial arts movie, part coming of age drama, the 1984 film stars Ralph Macchio as Daniel Larusso, a bullied teen who turns to karate for self defense. He finds a mentor and himself in his sensei Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita).
This crime drama is a time capsule of gritty 1970s New York. What's the title of this tense and bloody film?
"The French Connection"
Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" is a disturbing portrait of one man's descent into madness. Robert De Niro stars as disturbed Vietnam vet Travis Bickle who takes a job as an overnight cabbie. Unable to connect with people, an increasingly isolated Bickle embarks on a violent self-appointed mission.
John Travolta is electrifying as working class youth by day, disco king by night Tony Manero in "Saturday Night Fever." Launching TV heartthrob Travolta to film stardom, the R rated film proved so popular that it was recut and re-released with a PG rating to satisfy the star's young fanbase.
The Cold War runs hot with laughter in this dark '60s comedy. What's the title of this movie?
"On the Beach"
"Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
Just two years after the world found itself on the brink of nuclear war during 1962's Cuban Missile Crisis, Stanley Kubrick played the prospect of atomic annihilation for laughs in "Dr. Strangelove." Teetering on the absurd, the film sardonically points out the futility of nuclear conflict.
Fusing sci-fi with the classic hero's journey, this movie was a hit in 1999. Do you remember this film?
"Star Wars Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace"
The Wachowskis' 1999 hit "The Matrix" casts Keanu Reeves as Neo, a cyberverse savior. Noted for its revolutionary special effects and unique story, the film caught the imaginations of audiences as no film ever before nearly edging out "Star Wars Episode I" as the science fiction smash of the decade.
Can you ID this terrifying horror film based on this image?
"Beyond the Door"
Hailed as the greatest horror film of all time, "The Exorcist's" power to shock is undiminished after nearly 50 yeas. Based on the bestseller by William Peter Blatty, the film stars Ellen Burstyn as a desperate woman who enlists the aid of a young priest to save her demonically possessed daughter.
A billionaire weapons dealer finds a higher calling in this action adventure film. What's its title?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe got off to an auspicious start with 2008's "Iron Man." A perfectly cast Robert Downey Jr. stars as playboy industrialist and war profiteer Tony Stark. Following a near death experience in a war zone, Stark recreates himself as an armored superhero.
Released in 1971, director Hal Ashby's black comedy "Harold and Maude" is an oddly life-affirming film about death. Bud Cort and the always delightful Ruth Gordon star as the titular couple whose unusual friendship turns into an unlikely May-December romance.
A young man lives his life for brutality and Beethoven in this dystopian film. Can you name it?
"The Omega Man"
"A Clockwork Orange"
Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange," based on Anthony Burgess' 1962 novel, stars Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge, the leader of a brutal youth gang in a dystopian near future London. Exploring themes of the nature of violence and the individual versus the state this film is eternally relevant.
Do you know the name of this surreal mystery film?
2001's "Mulholland Drive" is David Lynch's nightmarish, neo-noir masterpiece. A surreal love letter to classics in the vein of "Sunset Boulevard" and "Double Indemnity," the film stars Naomi Watts as an aspiring actress who befriends a woman who seemingly has no past.