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

By: J.P. Naomi

"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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

"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.

"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.

"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."

"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.

"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.

"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."

"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.

"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.

"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.

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.

"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.

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.

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.

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.

"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.

"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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

"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.

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

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

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.

"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.

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

"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.

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.

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.

Explore More Quizzes

Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

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!


About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!