Think you’re a real movie buff? You might want to think again. Since the first movie studio opened in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard in 1911, the long-spanning history of cinema includes hundreds of classic and iconic flicks, ranging widely in genre, medium, year, heroes and villains, sound design, and set pieces—but what exactly makes them stand out? What makes them so utterly unforgettable and magnetic to audiences and their collective memories? It could be creative editing, or an unparalleled artistic force in the director’s chair. Sometimes, it’s a captivating performance from a tour-de-force talent.
Put your movie knowledge to the test in this quiz designed to challenge even the most seasoned cinephiles. Stacker chose 25 scenes from iconic movies across film history, from genuine stumpers to virtual giveaways, challenging all levels of film fandom. Identifying a famous film from a single scene might seem easy at first—but it’s more of an undertaking than you might think. Certain iconic films have noticeable hallmarks and recognizable characters, but a film is far more involved and layered than its most identifying elements.
Clue slides include various information to help the reader identify the scene pictured, including but not limited to: characters, actors, director, box-office performance, accolades, critical reception, and cultural legacy. The films fluctuate in genre and year, with some films from the old Hollywood period and others from the early 2000s, including anything from musicals to thrillers to dramas and comedies. Some scenes are easier than others, but several might force you to mine the depths of your encyclopedic cinephile mind.
Read on to test your abilities and see if you can name all 25 movies based on a single scene.
Though including a famous early appearance from a young Marilyn Monroe, this successful drama—which accrued a record 14 nominations at the 23rd Academy Awards, winning six—is actually one of her earliest roles before breaking into the mainstream. The real star of the show is the young lady next to her, Anne Baxter, playing a woman intent on stealing the spotlight, no matter the cost.
‘All About Eve’
In All About Eve, obsessive fan Eve Harrington worms her way into the inner circle of aging actress Margo Channing (played by Bette Davis), who pities poor Eve and takes her under her wing. Eve sets about replacing Margo, threatening her personal relationships and stardom. Here, Eve is surrounded by a group of Margo’s friends and colleagues, perfectly assembled using her powers of deceit. All About Eve is considered one of the best films of all time.
The besotted young lady pictured won’t be marrying the golden-haired man standing before her, as he’s to be wed to his own cousin instead. However, in this classic Civil War-era film that is still the highest-grossing film of all time (with inflation considered), her romantic inclinations become complicated by a handsome man she meets at the wedding announcement party.
‘Gone with the Wind’
Scarlett O’Hara spends the remainder of Gone with the Wind torn between her love for both Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler, the latter of whom she ultimately marries, though she spends the majority of the film pining for the former. Starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in the enduring roles of Scarlett and Rhett, respectively, the film was immensely popular upon its release and remains culturally and historically significant (and controversial) to this day.
This idyllic scene, shared between three friends trying to cool off on a hot day, will eventually be cut tragically short by the impending social unrest yet to unravel in their neighborhood. This critically acclaimed film served as the screen debuts for actors Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez.
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‘Do the Right Thing’
ML, Coconut Sid, and Sweet D. Willie hang out under the shade of an umbrella in Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. The film served as a searing critique of racism in America and was both a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Danny Aiello at the 62nd Academy Awards.
Actors Jon Voight and Brenda Vaccaro get cozy in this scene from the only X-rated film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture. The buddy drama film co-starring Dustin Hoffman is set in New York City and follows a Texan intent on getting rich through prostituting himself in the Big Apple.
Socialite Shirley has just paid prostitute Joe Buck for the night together—though Joe found it a bit difficult to perform at first. John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy won Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, in addition to Best Picture, at the 42nd Academy Awards, and the chemistry between Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman has helped it endure over the decades.
On the day of his sister’s wedding, the heir to a powerful crime family reluctantly joins the day’s festivities with girlfriend Kay, having just returned from serving in World War II. One of the most influential films of all time, the gangster genre was certainly given a run for its money with this powerful new addition in 1972.
Al Pacino’s legendary turn as Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather was unbelievably only his third film role, one that subsequently launched Pacino (seen here with co-star Diane Keaton) to stardom. The film went on to win Best Picture at the 45th Academy Awards and was followed by two sequels. It also cemented the successful film career of Coppola and revitalized the career of an aging Marlon Brando, thanks to his legendary performance as patriarch Don Corleone.
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Anne Hathaway’s character probably knows how to quit riding that horse better than her husband knows how to quit something else in this Western romance adapted from the short story of the same name. Immensely successful both critically and commercially, the film’s Best Picture loss at the 78th Academy Awards sparked backlash.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as two sheep herders who unexpectedly fall in love, the film was considered a major stepping stone in the advancement of queer cinema. Though also the subject of controversy concerning the portrayal of homosexuality, the film went on to accrue a multitude of awards—but, controversially, not the Oscar for Best Picture.
In her iconic pink dress and surrounded by fawning, tuxedoed men, Marilyn Monroe sings about how one precious gem in particular is a girl’s best friend. This musical was a star vehicle for better-known actress Jane Russell, but Monroe is best remembered here in her turn as a charming gold-digger.
‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’
Despite Gentlemen Prefer Blondes being her 20th film, it was only in the previous one, Niagra, that Marilyn Monroe received top billing and pushed her to stardom. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes solidified Monroe’s typecasting as the “dumb blonde,” for both better and worse, and the musical number “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” has become incredibly influential, giving way to a number of pop culture homages.
This woman looks as if she could be a gold-plated statue, but she’s entirely real—it took a whopping hour-and-a-half to apply the paint. Her unforgettably gilt body served as part of the promotional material for the similarly titled installment of this classic spy franchise.
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Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) aids Bond villain, the titular Goldfinger, in cheating at a game of cards with none other than James Bond himself. But after Bond catches Goldfinger in the act and seduces Jill, she’s painted entirely in gold for her treason and subsequently suffocates to death. This Sean Connery-starring iteration of James Bond was the first in the franchise to win an Oscar.
This character played by Christopher Plummer disavows those who have terrorized his homeland by tearing their flag in two—it’s certainly not one of his “favorite things.” It’s an iconic piece of imagery in an equally iconic film, filled end-to-end with classic musical numbers embedded in the fabric of pop culture.
‘The Sound of Music’
Captain von Trapp returns to his idyllic Austrian villa to find it covered in Nazi flags, which he unequivocally denounces. Instead of allowing his seven children and beloved Maria (Julie Andrews) to succumb to the power of the Third Reich, they soon make plans to escape for Switzerland. The Sound of Music won Best Picture at the 38th Academy Awards and is considered by many to be one of the greatest movie musicals of all time.
This love story doesn’t focus on Barbara Streisand and James Woods, as pictured; in fact, it was only Woods’ third role and first studio role, as he wasn’t an established actor yet. Streisand plays a college student attracted to a man very different from her in this film based on the screenwriter’s experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
‘The Way We Were’
The Way We Were paired Streisand with Hollywood heartthrob Robert Redford, playing a politically ignorant WASP as a foil to her Marxist, Jewish protagonist. Considered by some to be the “Best Romance of All Time,” the film’s title song went on to be immensely popular, even inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame, while both the single and the film’s soundtrack went gold.
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Theresa (played by Janelle Monàe) sits at her dining room table and talks to a troubled young boy whom her boyfriend has taken under his wing, both acting as substitute parents to him. The successful film broke milestones (and survived an infamous mixup) at the 89th Academy Awards.
Moonlight became the first LGBTQ-related film and first film with an all-Black cast to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, though there was quite a stir caused at the ceremony when it was mistakenly announced that competing title La La Land had won. The film garnered two other wins, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali in his role as Juan, the kind-hearted drug dealer who briefly takes young Chiron in like a surrogate son.
Eve Marie Saint hangs on to Cary Grant for dear life in this thriller from the “Master of Suspense” himself. Considered to be one the greatest film of all time, this tale of mistaken identity was both a critical and commercial success, cementing itself in the annals of film history.
‘North by Northwest’
Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest stars Cary Grant as the besieged Roger Thorndale, on the run with the mysterious Eve Kendall (Marie Saint) to evade a ruthless spy who’s mistaken Roger for a government agent. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and was selected by the National Film Registry for preservation in 1995.
Bill Murray cradles a cuddly stuffed penguin, his only companion in a country very far from home. However, he makes a friend there who changes his life for the better in this Sofia Coppola dramedy that won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
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‘Lost in Translation’
Bob (Murray), an aging actor, and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a recent college graduate traveling with her husband, find solace in each other’s loneliness while adrift in Tokyo in 2003’s Lost in Translation. The film has been praised for its atypical narrative structure, the source material of which was partly based on Coppola’s marriage to fellow director Spike Jonze.
This one good night for the patients at a psychiatric facility precedes the escape of the two who put the party together, who treat the ward to a night of alcohol and women, pictured here dancing with characters played by Danny DeVito and Brad Dourif. The film is based on the novel of the same name.
‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’
Unforgettably starring Jack Nicholson as the incorrigible Randle McMurphy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was the second film ever to win all five major Academy Awards in its year. The film is considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all time. The novel’s author, Ken Kesey, actually hated the film and wanted Gene Hackman to play the role of McMurphy.
In another classic Jack Nicholson picture, his character is seen here taking a dip of sorts alongside his love interest, played by Shirley MacLaine. MacLaine plays the controlling mother of Emma, two women navigating love and their relationship with one another in this 1983 comedy-drama.
‘Terms of Endearment’
Terms of Endearment led the 56th Academy Awards with a whopping 11 total nominations, winning five, including Best Picture. The film also stars Danny DeVito, John Lithgow, and Jeff Daniels, and spun off a sequel titled The Evening Star. However, this sequel was both a critical and commercial failure.
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In this 1987 romantic comedy, Nicholas Cage dons a wooden prosthetic hand, and his character ends up unintentionally falling for the fiancée of his estranged brother. His love interest is played by a famous pop star who went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in this film.
Cher’s portrayal of widow Loretta Castorini received critical acclaim, though Cage’s performance as the hot-headed object of her affections, Ronny Cammareri, was deemed by Roger Ebert as equally deserving of an Academy Award. The film was nominated for three other Oscars, including Best Picture, and won two: Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Olympia Dukakis.
Pictured here joyfully at the keys, the actor who played this musician was a real-life drummer who had to fake the ability to play piano for this classic film. Sam is the house pianist for “Rick’s Café Américain,” a club that attracts a colorful variety of clientele in the film’s eponymous Moroccan city.
Casablanca endures as a Hollywood classic thanks to its memorable characters, quotable lines, and the popular theme song “As Time Goes By” by Herman Hupfeld, sung by Dooley Wilson as Sam in the film. Alongside Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa Lund, Humphrey Bogart’s legendary turn as Rick Blaine is perhaps most remembered for his lines “Here’s looking at you, kid” and “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Angela Bassett plays mom to Cuba Gooding Jr. in this 1991 coming-of-age film, despite being only 10 years older; ironically, the two went on to play brother and sister in a popular anthology series 15 years later. This film’s director became the first African American to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, as well as the youngest director.
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‘Boyz n the Hood’
Gooding Jr. stars as young Tre Styles, sent to live with his father (played by Laurence Fishburne) in a tough neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles as he struggles to choose between different paths of his life. The film was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 64th Academy Awards and featured breakout roles for Gooding Jr. and co-stars Ice Cube and Nia Long.
Little Precious stares at an unfortunate sight down in the depths of the deep hole in the owner’s basement, which he’s used for horrifying ends. This film became the third following One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to win all top five categories at that year’s Academy Awards. It was also the only horror film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
‘Silence of the Lambs’
Precious’ owner, Buffalo Bill, has been holding hostage this daughter of a United States senator whom he threatens to hose if she does not use the lotion he’s sent down to her (resulting in a chillingly memorable movie quote). The film stars Jodie Foster as FBI Agent Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, whose quintessential performance and subsequent Best Actor win was based on only about 25 minutes of total screen time in The Silence of the Lambs.
Though you can’t see her face, Robin Wright is pictured as the consistently down-on-her-luck Jenny—the romantic interest to Tom Hanks’ protagonist in this 1994 epic comedy-drama. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it was the second-highest-grossing film of its year and went on to win Best Picture at the 67th Academy Awards.
The saga of Forrest Gump has become one of the most recognizable in cinema history and went on to break the box office and win five other Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Tom Hanks’ unforgettable performance as Gump. The movie utilized extensive visual effects in order to place Forrest Gump in an array of significant moments in American history.
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A heavily made-up John Leguizamo peers down at the performance on stage below him in this 2001 musical set in Paris. The film’s original song was nominated for an Oscar but was eventually disqualified due its being originally written for one of the director’s previous films.
Leguizamo portrays famous French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec alongside Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in this lavish romance. The jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! was nominated for eight Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards, including Best Picture—becoming the first musical in 10 years to be nominated in the category.
This intimidating mob boss and his young wife lounge by the pool in this 1994 cult classic directed by Quentin Tarantino. The film is famously portrayed with its scenes out of chronological order and has had a lasting impact on independent cinema and pop culture.
Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and wife Mia (Uma Thurman) are just two pieces in the convoluted jigsaw puzzle that is Pulp Fiction, surrounding a mysterious briefcase, an armed robbery, a fixed boxing max, and two very philosophical hitmen. The neo-noir black comedy was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Michael Douglas and Jeanne Tripplehorn—pictured here snuggling up together—star in this 1992 erotic thriller. Tripplehorn plays the psychologist of Douglas’s homicide detective, who herself becomes a suspect in his investigation of a brutal crime.
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Though a critical mixed bag upon release, Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct was considerably successful at the box office and has seen reappraisal in later years, particularly for its groundbreaking depiction of sexuality for its time. The film features an infamous scene in which Sharon Stone’s mysterious crime novelist Catherine Tramell uncrosses her legs.
Richard Roundtree heads through a crowd of people gathered on the streets of New York City as the eponymous cop in this 1971 crime film. The theme won Best Original Song at the 44th Academy Awards, and the soundtrack album won the Grammy for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture.
Private Detective John Shaft is caught between a Black crime mob, Black nationals, and the Italian mafia when he’s hired by a Harlem mobster whose daughter has been kidnapped. The film and its Grammy-winning soundtrack are often referenced in popular culture. Shaft was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 2000.
A veiled Faye Dunaway smokes a cigarette in Roman Polanski’s acclaimed 1974 neo-noir, in which she plays the mysterious wife of a prominent civil engineer whose death is being investigated by Jack Nicholson’s private eye. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars at the 47th Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Inspired by the real-life California water wars, Chinatown is often cited as one of the greatest films of all time. Jack Nicholson went on to star in and direct a sequel to the film, written by the original screenwriter Robert Towne, though it was not nearly as successful as the first.
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