The ideological tension between the U.S. and the USSR during the Cold War is a key ingredient in hundreds of movies. Are you the Film Buff Who Knew Too Much? Find out if you can name the movie based on the plot description with this quiz.
Released in 1962, this movie starred Frank Sinatra as a man who'd been brainwashed and programmed to assassinate the president of the U.S.
"The Fog of War"
"The Manchurian Candidate"
"Kiss Me Deadly"
In this '80s action movie, Colorado high school students unite to defend America against a Soviet invasion. Wolverines!
"Twilight's Last Gleaming"
A Russian submarine captain goes rogue and heads for the U.S. Is he defecting or planning an insane nuclear attack?
"The Hunt for Red October"
"Moscow on the Hudson"
When a hacker connects to a supercomputer designed to simulate nuclear war, he thinks it's a game and almost starts World War III.
"Night Without Stars"
A British spy infiltrates the Communist Party in East Germany as part of a plot to spread false information. When he is revealed to be a British agent, all seems lost — but maybe that was all part of the plan.
"The Spy Who Came in From the Cold"
"Beyond the Curtain"
This black-and-white 1964 movie, directed by Sidney Lumet, is full of tension as officials and politicians work to avoid a disaster when a series of errors causes a nuclear first strike.
"The Missiles of October"
"The 49th Man"
British superspy James Bond goes to Turkey to help a beautiful woman defect from the Soviets.
"The Spy Who Loved Me"
"Diamonds Are Forever"
"From Russia With Love"
A vacuum salesman is recruited to be a British secret agent in Havana, Cuba. He doesn't actually do any spy work though; he just invents other agents and enemy plots to make himself seem important and make more money. The scheme grows out of his control.
"Man on a Tightrope"
"Our Man in Havana"
The Cold War is inseparable from the oppressive fear of nuclear war. It even affected Superman, who frets about whether to save humanity by removing all nuclear weapons while battling a nuclear monster in this movie, which is not especially well-liked.
"Superman IV: The Quest for Peace"
"Man of Steel"
A young man working at a defense contractor becomes disillusioned with the actions of the CIA and recruits a drug dealer friend to sell top secret information to the Soviets. It's all based on a true story.
"The Falcon and the Snowman"
"The Long Kiss Goodnight"
This movie is another John le Carre adaptation, this time about British agents in 1970s London striving to ferret out a Soviet double agent working among them. It stars Gary Oldman and had previously been adapted as a BBC series.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
"Good Night, and Good Luck"
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
An aggressive U.S. submarine captain stalks a Soviet sub near Greenland, accidentally destroying it with an errant torpedo. He and his crew are subsequently obliterated by Russian nuclear weapons.
"The Bedford Incident"
"The Whip Hand"
"The Caine Mutiny"
Two ballet dancers who had defected in opposite directions (U.S. to Russia and Russia to U.S.) meet in Leningrad in the Soviet Union where they work together to escape to the U.S. with their loved ones.
"The Young Lovers"
A U.S. Air Force Vietnam veteran undertakes a difficult mission into the USSR to steal an ultra-advanced fighter jet with stealth capabilities and mind-controlled weapons systems.
"Flight of the Intruder"
A family that's been living in their bomb shelter since the Cuban missile crisis emerges into the modern, post-Cold War world.
"Blast From the Past"
"Ice Station Zebra"
"In Like Flint"
A general sends bombers to drop atomic bombs on the Soviets, and everyone, including the president, spends the rest of this biting satire trying to stop the attack, even though they're not allowed to fight in the war room.
"Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
"Spies Like Us"
"Walk a Crooked Mile"
A well-known game show host's real-life claims that he was a CIA assassin the whole time is the basis of this offbeat comedy/thriller.
"Artists and Models"
"The Living Daylights"
"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind"
A writer comes to post-World War II Vienna to meet a friend only to find the friend has recently been killed. He's plunged into a murder mystery involving a Soviet woman and a dastardly plan to sell diluted drugs on the black market.
"The Maltese Falcon"
"The Third Man"
"The Woman in the Window"
This bleak TV movie depicts Kansas residents struggling to survive the immediate aftermath of a nuclear war.
"The 7th Dawn"
"The Day After"
"Seven Days in May"
Yet another bleak movie about a postapocalyptic world, this one features Australians committing suicide in the face of impending radiation death and is based on a novel.
"Dark of the Sun"
"On the Beach"
"This Is Not a Test"
A world-famous boxer is challenged by a menacing Russian fighter, who kills the American fighter's trainer in the ring prior to the final showdown.
Sometimes Cold War fears were sublimated into stories about aliens or hopes for world peace — or both, like in this science fiction classic about an alien and his robot assistant who come to Earth calling for an end to nuclear hostilities, or else they'll end them for us. Klaatu barada nikto.
"The Day the Earth Stood Still"
"The Thing From Another World"
"Plan 9 From Outer Space"
This superhero movie based on an '80s graphic novel is about a splintered team of heroes investigating a series of murders, leading to a fake alien invasion designed to unite humanity and avoid a nuclear war. It's a noble end but at a terrible cost.
"The Butterfly Effect"
"The League of Extraordinary Gentleman"
Possibly the first "U.S. is invaded by the Communists" movie, this 1952 film is about people in a bar who gradually realize the invasion is happening and come to regret that they didn't do more to prevent it.
A double agent lurks inside this thriller about a submarine searching the Arctic for a scientific research station and the top secret satellite photos the crew hopes to find there.
"Ice Station Zebra"
This devastating animated movie shows an older British couple preparing to survive a nuclear assault and its aftermath and failing to do so. David Bowie and Roger Waters are among the well-known artists who contributed to the soundtrack.
"Dancer in the Dark"
"When the Wind Blows"
The plot of this 1964 thriller seems chillingly plausible even in a post-Cold War world: A junta works to depose the president because it disagrees with his plans to sign a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviets. It stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, as well as Ava Gardner, one of several actors to appear in multiple movies in this quiz.
"Break in the Circle"
"Seven Days in May"
"The French Connection"
Another science fiction movie transforms Cold War fear into an alien menace. This time, researchers at an Arctic base find themselves trapped with a murderous creature. The movie ends with the ominous "watch the skies!" tagline, which might be a reference to fear of Soviet bomber or missile attacks.
"Battle of the Worlds"
"The Thing From Another World"
Kevin Costner stars in this dramatization of the events of the Cuban missile crisis.
A complicated spy versus spy tale, this movie has British agents deciphering a mysterious audio tape while on the trail of a missing scientist and stars Michael Caine.