19 October 2019

Who, What, & Where

Okay, put on your thinking hat. It's time for a quiz.

The inspiration for this post came to me some time ago, when a student in one of my fiction-writing classes said, "If my story is ever made into a movie, I wish Steve McQueen could've played the lead." Immediately a young fellow on the other side of the room said, "Who?"

A long silence passed, during which I'm sure most of us in that classroom were thinking the same thing: Are we really THAT old? But sure enough, the King of Cool died almost forty years ago, and there are probably a lot of folks in their teens or twenties who, when they hear the name Steve McQueen, don't think of the Cincinnati Kid or Thomas Crown or the second cowboy in The Magnificent Seven or the guy who blasted through San Francisco in a green Mustang or jumped a prison-camp fence on a motorcycle. They're more likely to think of the other Steve McQueen, the British guy who directed Widows and Shame and 12 Years a Slave.

Hence this quiz. It's not all that hard, but if you haven't seen or revisited some of these old movies via Netflix or Amazon Prime lately, you might be as confused as the young student in my class. At the very least, though, I hope a few of these questions might rekindle some pleasant memories.

NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: First, any question beginning with "Who" is asking for an actor's name, not a character's name. Second, these are movies, not plays or TV shows, because some of the titles are the same. Third, all movie names refer to the original versions, not remakes.

All set? Grab your popcorn--leave the connoli.


 1. What were The Searchers searching for?
 2. What made the impact in Deep Impact?
 3. What did Ferris Bueller take a day off from?
 4. What were the signs in Signs?
 5. What was under siege in Under Siege?
 6. What was the book in The Book of Eli?
 7. What was the planet in Planet of the Apes?
 8. What were the passengers riding on in Passengers?
 9. What was natural about The Natural?
10. What kind of animals were The Ghost and the Darkness?
11. What was the dish in The Dish?
12. What made the splash in Splash?
13. What was the museum in Night at the Museum?
14. What was supposed to happen at High Noon?
15. What were the Kramers fighting over in Kramer vs. Kramer?
16. What was the army's reason for Saving Private Ryan?
17. What group dug the holes in Holes?
18. What group had The Right Stuff?
19. What group were the warriors in The Warriors?
20. What group were the 12 Angry Men?
21. What happened to the bridge on the River Kwai?
22. What was the Red October?
23. What was The Pink Panther?
24. What was the Moonraker?
25. What was Porky's?
26. What was Pelham One Two Three?
27. What was Soylent Green?
28. What was The Maltese Falcon?
29. What was The Stand?
30. What was Jumanji?
31. What was Galaxy Quest?
32. What was The Green Mile?
33. What was The Sand Pebbles?
34. What was Sleepless in Seattle?
35. What was The Shining?
36. What was The Big Red One?
37. What was The Blue Max?
38. What was Shawshank?
39. What was The African Queen?
40. What was The Breakfast Club?
41. What was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?
42. What was The China Syndrome?
43. Where was Mystic River?
44. Where was Notting Hill?
45. Where was Lonesome Dove?
46. Where was Chinatown?
47. Where was Snowy River?
48. Where was the waterfront in On The Waterfront?
49. Who got away in The Getaway?
50. Who was the castaway in Cast Away?
51. Who met the parents in Meet the Parents?
52. Who killed Bill in Kill Bill?
53. Whose daughter was taken in Taken?
54. Whose body was guarded in The Bodyguard?
55. Who was the trainer in Training Day?
56. Who was the mama in Mama Mia?
57. Who got stung in The Sting?
58. Who came Back to the Future?
59. Who escaped from New York in Escape from New York?
60. Who was in misery in Misery?
61. Who was the driver in Drive?
62. Who was chased in The Chase?
63. Who came to dinner in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
64. Who was the cowboy in Midnight Cowboy?
65. Who drove Miss Daisy?
66. Who had a close encounter of the third kind?
67. Who was the pilot in Airplane?
68. Who was the pilot in Airport?
69. Who flew the Phoenix in Flight of the Phoenix?
70. Who had Vertigo?
71. Who looked out the Rear Window?
72. Who was Singin' in the Rain?
73. Who ran The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas?
74. Who was The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?
75. Who were The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?
76. Who got left Home Alone?
77. Who rode a blazing saddle?
78. Who was Jackie Brown?
79. Who was Jerry Maguire?
80. Who was Michael Clayton?
81. Who was Austin Powers?
82. Who was Ace Ventura?
83. Who was Our Man Flint?
84. Who was The Flim-Flam Man?
85. Who was Cat Ballou?
86. Who was Will Penny?
87. Who was Erin Brockovich?
88. Who was Young Frankenstein?
89. Who was The Man with the Golden Gun?
90. Who was The Music Man?
91. Who was The Lady in the Water?
92. Who was Edward Scissorhands?
93. Who was Annie Hall?
94. Who was The Princess Bride?
95. Who led The Dirty Dozen?
96. Who led The Wild Bunch?
97. Who led The Untouchables?
98. Who led the mutiny in Mutiny on the Bounty?
99. Who led the Journey to the Center of the Earth?
100. Who led The Magnificent Seven?


 1. A little girl kidnapped by Indians
 2. An asteroid
 3. High school
 4. Crop circles
 5. A battleship
 6. The Holy Bible
 7. Earth
 8. A spaceship
 9. A talent for baseball
10. Man-eating lions
11. An Australian satellite station
12. A mermaid
13. The Museum of Natural History in NYC
14. The arrival of four killers, on the train
15. Custody of their son
16. All three of his brothers had been killed in combat
17. Children at a juvenile detention camp
18. The Mercury astronauts
19. A New York street gang
20. A jury in a murder trial
21. It blew up
22. A nuclear submarine
23. A diamond
24. A British spacecraft
25. A nightclub
26. A New York subway train
27. A product manufactured from dead bodies
28. A black statuette
29. The confrontation between good and evil
30. A board game
31. A Star-Trek-like TV series
32. The final walk taken by prisoners on death row
33. The sailors' nickname for the gunboat San Pablo
34. A name given to a caller on a radio talk show
35. Telepathy
36. The First Infantry division, in WWII
37. Germany's highest medal for valor
38. A prison in Maine
39. A boat
40. A group of misfit high-school students
41. A car
42. A nuclear-plant failure, where the meltdown seeps "all the way to China"
43. Boston
44. London
45. Texas
46. Los Angeles
47. Australia
48. Hoboken, New Jersey
49. Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw
50. Tom Hanks
51. Ben Stiller
52. Uma Thurman
53. Liam Neeson's
54. Whitney Houston's
55. Denzel Washington
56. Meryl Streep
57. Robert Shaw
58. Michael J. Fox
59. Kurt Russell and Donald Pleasance
60. James Caan
61. Ryan Gosling
62. Robert Redford
63. Sidney Poitier
64. Jon Voight
65. Morgan Freeman
66. Richard Dreyfuss
67. Peter Graves
68. Dean Martin
69. James Stewart
70. James Stewart
71. James Stewart
72. Gene Kelly
73. Dolly Parton
74. John Wayne
75. Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach
76. McCauley Culkin
77. Cleavon Little
78. Pam Grier
79. Tom Cruise
80. George Clooney
81. Mike Myers
82. Jim Carrey
83. James Coburn
84. George C, Scott
85. Jane Fonda
86. Charlton Heston
87. Julia Roberts
88. Gene Wilder
89. Christoper Lee
90. Robert Preston
91. Bryce Dallas Howard
92. Johnny Depp
93. Diane Keaton
94. Robin Wright
95. Lee Marvin
96. William Holden
97. Kevin Costner
98. Clark Gable
99. James Mason
100. Yul Brynner

How'd you do? Here's my rating chart:
  • If you answered 0 questions correctly, you are either very young or have spent years in solitary confinement.
  • If you answered 1-19 correctly, you are either very old or you're not much of a movie fan.
  • If you answered 20-39 correctly, you probably like movies but you've also missed some good ones.
  • If you answered 40-59 correctly, you are a normal, average, well-rounded U.S. citizen.
  • If you answered 60-79 correctly, you are a definite movie fan and a borderline Netflix addict.
  • If you answered 80-99 correctly, you either have an excellent memory, you have no social life, or you work in the film industry. Possibly all three.
  • If you answered all 100 correctly, you probably should be in solitary confinement. And observed carefully.

Consolation prize

Here are ten more, that might make you feel better about all this:
  • Who was Forrest Gump?
  • Who was Dirty Harry?
  • Who was The Big Lebowski?
  • Who was My Fair Lady?
  • Who was Rain Man?
  • Who was Tootsie?
  • Who was Ben-Hur?
  • Who was Mad Max?
  • Who was Spartacus?

And that's it. Next week I'll try to steer the ship back to mysteries and/or writing.


  1. Sorry. My ten more turned out to be nine more. But you've probably had enough already, anyway.

  2. Your story about Steve McQueen is telling, John. Fame is very fleeting. I put something on FB a couple days ago about Bob Dylan not being let backstage by some of his own hired security guards one time. They were fired. And a cop not recognizing him, thinking he was a bum. My mom was in love with Clark Gable (the King of Hollywood, with Myrna Loy as the Queen) and Tyrone Power -- how many young people today know who they are. People we thought would be remembered forever, well, fame is fleeting.

  3. A perfect example of why Norma Desmond's fate is/was so frightening to every actor. And think about Erich von Stroheim. There are an awful lot of people who've seen "Sunset Boulevard" and have no idea that von Stroheim was once one of the greatest directors of silent films.

  4. Good memory. Got 91. Thought moonraker was the pretty woman and the shining was the little boy. Thought Walter Brennan played Will Penny and the museum in NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM was The Smithsonian. I cover my bases by putting three answers for who led the mutiny on the Bounty since I've seen all three movies – Gable, Brando and Mel Gibson.

    Good posting.

  5. Paul, it's scary that many folks probably don't know (or wouldn't recognize the faces of) Clark Gable or Tyrone Power--but you're probably right. As for fame being short-lived, I saw something the other night on YouTube about the fact that Renee Zellweger, after the huge success of JERRY MAGUIRE, COLD MOUNTAIN, etc., went something like nine or ten years completely out of the public eye. I think I saw her in something recently, but I suppose even young actors/actresses these days can be forgotten surprisingly fast. Another example: Matthew Fox, who had the lead role on LOST from 2004 to 2010, is now pretty much lost.

    Hey Eve. Yep, good ole Norma Desmond. And now no one remembers Gloria Swanson, either. At least Swanson--and von Stroheim--were famous for a while, if not for long. Look at it this way: Fifty years from now, your name will still be in all those issues of AHMM!!

    O'Neil, I'm not at all surprised that you remembered so many of these. (You really do need to get out more.) Seriously, I think a memory of old movies, etc., is a great thing for a writer to have. Lots of source material to draw on. As for Walter Brennan, I bet you were thinking of Will Sonnet (on TV), and I too remembered the movie museum as The Smithsonian. I had to look it up. And Mutiny on the Bounty was the reason I mentioned the fact that I was referring to originals and not remakes, because Brando and Gibson were the first ones I thought of, there.

    Thanks, you guys, for the comments.

  6. I remember a college student asking who were the Marx Brothers. Her mother explained that that they were economists.

    Years ago I read an interview with Dustin Hoffman. I can't do it justice but it went like this. A friend was teaching a film class so DH agreed to attend. No prepared talk, he would just answer questions. Studets would ask X and he would answer "Well, in TOOTSIE we did it this way" or "in RAIN MAN we tried..."

    Eventually he noticed blank faces when he brought up a certain movie. "How many of you have seen THE GRADUATE?" No hands went up.

    "My wife says I went into a fetal position..."

  7. The Marx Brothers weren't economists?

    I like the story about that interview with Hoffman, Rob--though that is pretty hard to believe. It's especially hard for ME to believe that young folks are so ignorant of older movies because all three of our kids (now in their thirties and early forties) know a lot of detail about TONS of movies made before they were born--but mostly because I drummed it into their heads for so many years. When they were really small I showed them tapes I'd made of some of the best pieces of movies I'd seen over the years (and taped from when they were shown on TV). Some of those excerpts were endings, so I'm sure I ruined a lot of movies for them, but they all seemed to like it. My wife likes about 1 percent of the movies I watch, but she has been thankfully tolerant for many years.

    THE GRADUATE should be required viewing for . . . well, almost everybody.

  8. Loved this post, John.

    So many of these are familiar to me, but here's my problem: age, mine. I can tell you plots, characters (not names), settings, probably approximately when these movies were made. But half of the actors I couldn't come up with a name. LOL I can see the face, tell the type of person they played, where, what other characters they played, etc. but name has left me. I have seen about 85% of these movies.

    The one that did surprise me was On the Waterfront. I've seen it but didn't now the waterfront was Hoboken. Don't tell anyone though, they might drum this Jersey Girl out of the state. LOL

  9. Pat, it sounds like you remember the important things and I remember the trivial things. As for settings (like Hoboken), I think IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, which was set in the fictional Sparta, Mississippi, was actually filmed in the real Sparta, Illinois (so they could use landmarks like the Sparta water tower).

    I love this kind of stuff.

  10. O'Neil got 91! Oh man, I'm going for that fetal position.

    I lost track, but I think I nailed about 66, squeaking into your 2nd tier. On several, I could picture faces, but like Pat, not dredge up names I should have.

    Next time I'm not letting O'Neil send me for popcorn.

  11. Leigh, I agree--the faces are easier to remember. And the whats are usually easier than the who's anyway. Main thing is, I hope it brought back good memories.

    I need to see if O'Neil wants to collaborate on some screenplays . . .

  12. John, I watch a lot of movies. Ask me TV trivia and I'll flunk.

  13. Me too, O'Neil. Most of the TV I watch are limited-series Netflix or Amazon Prime shows that have a complete story arc in one season, like Fargo and True Detective and Goliath. They're more like 10- or 12-hour movies than TV series. (But some of theme are really good.)

  14. Some of them, not some of theme.


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