40 Movies Your Students Probably Don’t Know

Fully two-thirds of my students are writing screenplays. I bet yours are, too. (Really, just ask for a show of hands. If two-thirds of them don’t have their hands up, it’s because those who are writing screenplays at that moment haven’t yet heard your question.)

Yet the only thing they know about movie history is that The Lion King is really cool and that Pacino’s Scarface contains the line, “Say ‘hello’ to my little friend.”

And even the ones who are not currently writing screenplays consider themselves film buffs although–since “buff” is not a word a lot of them use except when discussing the male physique–they often just say, “I really, really like films. I know quite a bit about them, actually.”

What that means, as it turns out, is that they all saw Star Wars, The Little Mermaid, Babe, The Notebook, Titanic and Pretty Woman, but pretty much nothing before that.

But I’ve come to realize that I can no longer count on my students knowing anything about the following films (some great, some not, but all what I once considered common currency) that I had assumed they would have seen, or at least heard enough about in order to fake passing familiarity:

  1. Casablanca
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. Gone With The Wind
  4. Rebel Without a Cause
  5. The Wild One
  6. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
  7. 400 Blows
  8. All About Eve
  9. Some Like It Hot
  10. Psycho (the Tony Perkins one)
  11. Do The Right Thing
  12. Saturday Night Fever
  13. Dracula
  14. Frankenstein (not as in “Young” although that’s a great one, too)
  15. My Fair Lady
  16. Rosemary’s Baby
  17. Birth of A Nation
  18. The Seventh Seal
  19. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  20. North By Northwest
  21. It’s a Wonderful Life
  22. Gaslight
  23. Lolita (the one with Sue Lyon and James Mason)
  24. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  25. Bringing Up Baby
  26. Dr. Strangelove
  27. Rashomon
  28. It Happened One Night
  29. His Girl Friday
  30. To Kill A Mockingbird
  31. Miracle on 34th Street
  32. Annie Hall
  33. Harold and Maude
  34. Animal House
  35. The Deer Hunter
  36. All the President’s Men
  37. Amadeus
  38. Thelma & Louise
  39. Swept Away (not the Madonna version, the Wertmüller’s version)
  40. Sunset Boulevard

What about your tribe? Are they more well-versed, or well-viewed? Are you sure?

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