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SMITH HISTORY BLOG: Can you guess the movie?

By Gretty Hollister

The classics are nostalgic, the scary ones still give us goosebumps, and the really good ones stay with us long after. Movies have been an experience since the golden age back in the 1930s, right around the time that Schine’s Geneva Theatre opened its doors. Back then, without use of the television for commercial trailers or the internet to place ads, selling movie tickets was a lot harder. Theatres and theatre owners had to get creative. Since the early days of the Smith, superlatives— “the most lavish scenery of all time,” “a cast of thousands”—had been used in advertisements and on posters in order to sell tickets (McNally 23). Still used today, movie theatres utilized pull quotes and taglines to sell their tickets. Below are ten films, each with three pull quotes or taglines. See if you can guess what they are! (Answers and sources of the quotes are listed at the bottom if you want to cheat.)

1. “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free” “Sold over $700,000 in ticket sales its opening weekend” “Sense of striving humanity slowly turning the tables against evil”

2. “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.” “It is a testament to the good in all of us.” “The director’s dramatic masterpiece”

3. “If he’s crazy, what does that make you?” “Acted with such a sense of life that one responds to its demonstration of humanity” “Ken Kesey’s grim satire of institutionalized authority”

4. “Winner of 6 Academy Awards including Best Music, Original Score” “Somewhere, in space, this could all be happening right now.” “It’s easy to find yourself lured into a world you want to believe in.”

5. “As big and timely a picture as you’ve ever seen! You can tell by the cast it’s important! gripping! big!” “They had a date with fate…” “Hollywood’s quintessential statement on love and romance”

6. “The Return of the Great Adventure” “Rousing fun with no lulls” “Wide-eyed homage to the episodic Saturday matinee, cliff-hanging thrillers, westerns, and adventure serials of yesteryear…”

7. “Suspense of Screaming Proportions!” “The most UNUSUAL and INTIMATE journey into human emotions ever filmed!!!” “A popular and critical favorite because there’s a guilty dose of voyeur in each of us.”

8. “In space no one can hear you scream.” “…familiarity but with immense promise.” “Blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.”

9. “He’s the only kid ever to get in trouble before he was born.” “Appeared with little fanfare as an action-heavy special-effects franchise film, but proved that charm, wit and genuine excitement were not incompatible with that definition.” “Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed.”

10. “In October of 1994 three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary…A year later their footage was found.” “Imagination can be as scary as anything onscreen.” “The most dangerous film in captivity.”


1. The Shawshank Redemption, 1994

a. Original tagline, found IMDb

b. Box Office Details, found IMDb

c. Stack, Peter. “’Shawshank’ Redeems Itself/ Unrealistic story is still inspiring.” San Francisco Chronicle, 14 April 1995.

2. Schindler’s List, 1993

a. Original tagline, found IMDb

b. Plot summary, found IMDb

c. Critics Consensus, found Rotten Tomatoes

3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975

a. Original tagline, found IMDb

b. Canby, Vincent. “Jack Nicholson, the Free Spirit of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’” The New York Times, 28 November 1975.

c. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” TV Guide, Accessed 9 July 2018.

4. Star Wars IV: A New Hope

a. Awards, found IMDb

b. Original tagline, found IMDb

c. Ford, Matt. “Star Wars Review.” BBC Films, 26 July 2001, Accessed 9 July 2018.

5. Casablanca, 1942

a. Original tagline, found IMDb

b. Original tagline, found IMDb

c. Critics Consensus, found Rotten Tomatoes

6. Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981

a. Original tagline, found IMDb

b. Canby, Vincent. “NYT Critic’s Pick: Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The New York Times, 11 June 1981.

c. Dirks, Tim. “Filmsite Movie Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark.” AMC Filmsite, Accessed 9 July 2018.

7. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, 1954

a. Original tagline, found IMDb

b. 1962 Re-release tagline, found IMDb

c. Morris, Wesley. “Restored ‘Window’ vital, contemporary.” San Fransisco Examiner, 4 Feb. 2000.

8. Alien, 1979

a. Original tagline, found IMDb

b. Can, Vincent. “Alien Brings Chills from the Far Galaxy.” The New York Times, 25 May 1979, p. 16.

c. Critics Consensus, Rotten Tomatoes

9. Back to the Future, 1985

a. Original UK tagline, found IMDb

b. Gritten, David. “Back to the Future, review.” The Telegraph, 1 October 2010.

c. Critics Consensus, found Rotten Tomatoes

10. The Blair Witch Project, 1999

a. Original press tagline, found IMDb

b. Critics Consensus, found Rotten Tomatoes

c. Covert, Collin. “Blair Witch Review.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 24 September 2014. Found: Rotten Tomatoes.

Works Cited:

McNally, Charles. The Revels in Hand: The First Century of the Smith Opera House October 1894-October 1994. Finger Lakes Regional Arts Council, 1995.