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The 10 Most Popular Movies of All Time - A Cheat Sheet

Aug 17, 2007
Are you a movie dunce? Do you not know your Corleone from your Kurosawa? Would you recognise a lightsaber if it hit you in the face? Well, don't panic. To help you catch up on your movie knowledge here's a crash course in the top 10 movies of all time, as voted by the readers of the Internet Movie Database. Careful, though... here be spoilers.

10. Star Wars IV: A New Hope

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away . . .

Luke Skywalker, farmhand and son of Darth Vader, is torn from his home when his aunt and uncle are murdered by Imperial Storm Troopers searching for the stolen plans to the Death Star, a space station with weaponry capable of destroying planets. Luke escapes with his two droids, Jedi Knight Obi Wan Kenobi, smuggler Han Solo and first mate Chewbacca.

After escaping Tatooine, the ragtag crew stumble upon the Death Star shortly after it has destroyed the planet Alderaan. Caught by its tractor beam, their ship is dragged in. While attempting to escape the Death Star the team rescue Princess Leia, held prisoner in the ships bowels. During the rescue Obi Wan sacrifices himself to allow the others to escape.

In a grand finale, Luke destroys the Death Star by firing a missile into a weak spot in the structure of the ship and Darth Vader, is cannoned off into the depths of space.

Quote: I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Trivia: Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds and James Caan reportedly turned down the role of Han Solo.

9. Pulp Fiction

A movie whose various plotlines are far too intertwined to summarise in a paragraph or two, Pulp Fiction simply tells the story of a day in the life of a group of unusual people -- two hitmen, the wife of a gangster, and a boxer who killed in the ring among others.

Edited to tie each story together, the movie often plays out of sequence -- to the point where the final scene and the opening scene take place at the same time. Full of pop culture references and quotable lines, Pulp Fiction stays true to form as a Tarantino movie.

Quote: Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.

Trivia: Vincent Vega (John Travolta) is the brother of Vic Vega, also known as Mr Blonde, in Reservoir Dogs.

8. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Set during the US Civil War, the movie follows the three protagonists Blondie (The Good), Snake Eyes (The Bad) and Tuco (The Ugly) in their search for a hoard of gold stolen by bank robber Bill Carson. All three want 50% of the gold -- resulting in a good old-fashioned standoff. Snake Eyes is shot dead, and the honorable Blondie allows Tuco his share of the booty.

Quote: You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

Trivia: Clint Eastwood wore the same poncho for all three 'Man With No Name' movies -- without washing it once.

7. Schindler's List

Schindler's List tells the true story of Oscar Schindler, a Nazi industrialist who becomes so moved by the plight of the Jewish people during World War II that he devotes himself to saving as many as he can. Even after rescuing over 1,100 Jews from the gas chamber, Schindler bemoans the fact that he could have saved more had he sacrificed everything he had.

Quote: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.

Trivia: Steven Spielberg refused to take any pay for the film, claiming that it would feel like he was taking 'blood money'.

6. The Seven Samurai

Regarded as Akira Kurosawa's greatest film, the Seven Samurai tells the story of a terrorised village in war-torn 16th Century Japan. Constantly attacked by gangs of bandits, the residents enlist the services of seven ronin, or samurai without masters, to protect them.

Despite initial tensions between the villagers and the samurai, they together successfully defend the village against the bandits. However, their success comes at the cost of the lives of four samurai.

Quote: What's the use of worrying about your beard when your head's about to be taken?

Trivia: The three samurai whose characters survived the film were the first three to die in real life.

5. Casablanca

Hiding out in Casablanca, Morocco during World War II, exiled American and former freedom fighter Rick Blaine passes the time running a popular nightspot. Blaine's tedium is interrupted when Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo arrives with his beautiful wife Ilsa -- Blaine's ex-lover.

Blaine holds the key to Laszlo's safe passage out of the country, and Ilsa offers herself to him in exchange for her husband's safety. Blaine faces the choice of sacrificing Laszlo to win back Ilsa, but in the end decides to do the honorable thing...

Quote: If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Trivia: The line 'Here's lookin' at you, kid' was voted the 5th most well known movie line in history by the American Film Institute.

4. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The third and final instalment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King offers an epic finale to Frodo's quest (thousands of extras took part in the filming to add to the drama). Finally arriving at Mt. Doom, Frodo is overcome by exhaustion and the stress of bearing the Ring. Helped by Sam, Frodo manages to make his way into the volcano.

At the last moment he finds himself unable to throw the Ring into the magma, choosing instead to wear it. Gollum, surviving Frodo's earlier attempt on his life, attacks Frodo and bites off his finger, removing the ring. Losing his grip, Gollum falls into the pit along with the Ring, breaking its hold over Frodo and killing Sauron.

With Sauron's death his army is destroyed, just in time to save the army of Men, poised to fight to the death at the gates of Mordor.

Quote: Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you.

Trivia: The Return of the King used over seven times the number of special effects shots used in an average movie.

3. The Godfather: Part II

Split between two timelines, the second instalment of The Godfather trilogy follows Don Vito Corleone through his adolescence in Sicily and New York during the early 20th Century, and later his rise to power as a Mafia Don. It also returns to a point a few years after the conclusion of the first movie, with Michael Corleone running the family interests following his father's death.

After learning that his brother Fredo has betrayed the family, Michael must order his execution.

Quote: I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!

Trivia: Robert de Niro won an Oscar for his portrayal of a young Vito Corleone. De Niro and Marlon Brando are the only actors to win Oscars for the portrayal of the same character.

2. The Shawshank Redemption

Based on a novella by Steven King, The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a successful banker wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife and her lover. Given two life sentences, Dufresne is sent to the maximum security Shawshank Prison where he befriends Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding, a lifer who helps him adjust to prison life.

Over the next twenty years their friendship grows while Andy has a positive effect on the inmates, helping to establish a prison library and education system. Unfortunately, the mean-spirited and criminal warden beats down Andy's spirit until he finally escapes through a tunnel that took him two decades to dig.

In a final act of revenge Andy exposes the warden's crimes, driving him to suicide to avoid being sent to prison. Red is later released on parole, and tracks down Andy to a beach in Mexico.

Quote: Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Trivia: The mugshots of Morgan Freeman as a young man are actually pictures of his real life son, Alfonso.

1. The Godfather

Adapted from Mario Puzo's seminal Mafia novel, the first instalment of The Godfather trilogy sees Don Vito Corleone, head of the Corleone crime family, struggle with the realities of a changing world. When he refuses to work with drug dealer Virgil Sollozzo in a scheme to push heroin in New York, he falls foul of Sollozzo's backers the Tattaglia family.

When Vito is wounded in an attempted assassination his son Michael -- previously determined to have nothing to do with the family business -- volunteers to kill Sollozzo. Following the execution Michael is sent to Sicily to hide out until it is safe to return. After Michael's brother Sonny is executed by the rival Barzini family, Michael safely returns and takes his place as the head of the family in time to see Vito Corleone die of a heart attack. In revenge for the attacks on his family Michael arranges for the murder of the heads of the other families, to take place during the baptism ceremony of his nephew.

Following the baptism Michael orders the execution of the father of the baptised child -- and his own brother in-law -- Carlo Rizzi, in retribution for Carlo's role in setting up Sonny's death. The movie ends with the widow, Michael's sister Connie, suspecting that Michael was involved in Carlo's death.

Quote: I'll make him an offer he can't refuse.

Trivia: Sofia Coppola, the director's daughter, played the baby baptised at the end of the movie. She returned to play the role of Michael's daughter Mary in The Godfather: Part III).

So there you have it. If you've been paying attention you should now have just enough knowledge of the top ten movies of all time to bluff your way through a conversation with a movie buff. These bare bones won't take you far, though, so I suggest you set aside some time, get a big bucket of popcorn, sit back and enjoy the best of Hollywood. You won't be disappointed.
About the Author
James Shenton is a freelance writer and cinema buff whose work can often be found gracing the pages of industry journals and entertainment portals.

You can find more of his work at the Internet's best movie downloads site, http://www.EliteMovieDownloads.com.
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