Movie Quiz: In a Few Words

Movie industry types love to describe films with just a few well-chosen words.

Thus The Lion King becomes “Hamlet on the veldt.”

Here are 20 well-known movies and thumbnail descriptions. Pair them up.

If you can.

1. Top Gun
2. Alien
3. Citizen Kane
4. Annie Hall
5. Gone with the Wind
6. Treasure of the Sierra Madre
7. Groundhog Day
8. Mommie Dearest
9. The Big Chill
10. Scarface
11. Tootsie
12. Das Boot
13. Red River
14. Planet of the Apes
15. The Social Network
16. Inception
17. Winter’s Bone
18. Gosford Park
19. The Full Monty
20. Dances with Wolves
A. Pajama party for old lefties.
B. Do it until you get it right.
C. Life is a drag.
D. Driving to Abilene.
E. Famous last words.
F. The geek shall inherit the Earth.
G. He’s got little friends.
H. Anhedonia.
I. An Ozarks coming of age.
J. Strutting his stuff.
K. Heroine of Hall & Oates song sets sights on rugged guy.
L. Kevinsgate.
M. Flyguy starts World War III to impress girl.
N. All that glitters...
O. Spare the coathanger, spoil the child.
P. Colonel Mustard, in the billiard room with a lead pipe.
Q. All quiet on the tin can front.
R. Outer space bogeyman.
S. Evolutionary upset.
T. Dream a little dream of me.


About the Author

Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at He's married to the former Ellen Vaughan; they are the proud parents of LA-based comedian, writer, director and TV personality Blair Butler. He used to be a dog person but now lives with two cats, thus demonstrating the flexibility of the human condition.

ANSWERS (and explanations):
1-M: At the end of this Cold War hit, Tom Cruise blows Soviet MIGs out of the sky.
2-R: It wasn’t really was a haunted house movie with cool technology.
3-E: A newspaper mogul’s dying word – Rosebud – sets a reporter on a quest to uncover its meaning.
4-H: The working title of Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning film was “Anhedonia,” meaning unable to experience pleasure. Thankfully it was changed.
5-K: The H&O song is “Rich Girl”...Scarlett O’Hara, of course.
6-N: Prospector Humphrey Bogart hits the motherload, but all that gold drives him insane.
7-B: Jerk TV weatherman Bill Murray finds himself reliving the same day over and over.
8-O: Movie star Joan Crawford uses a coat hanger to discipline her daughter.
9-A: Reunited for a funeral, former campus radicals realize they’ve become their parents.
10-H: Cuban gangster Al Pacino terrorizes Miami with his “little friends” – big honking machine guns.
11-C: Actor Dustin Hoffman finds work by dressing as a women.
12-Q: A German antiwar film – like All Quiet on the Western Front – set in a submarine – a tin can – during WW2.
13-D: John Wayne and Montgomery Cliff take a herd of steers from Texas to Kansas.
14-S: In this sci-fi classic, men are animals and apes are sophisticated.
15-F: Dweeb creates Facebook, becomes incredibly rich.
16-T: In the near future, spies can invade our dreams and steal our secrets.
17-I: A teenage girl in Southern Missouri gains wisdom while searching for her meth-cooking father.
18-P: Robert Altman’s drawing room murder mystery had lots of the elements of the classic Clue board game.
19-J: Unemployed blue collar Brits hope to raise money with a male strip show.
20-L: While filming the Kevin Costner Western, crew members predicted a turkey and called the film “Kevinsgate,” a reference to the expensive Western flop Heaven’s Gate.