A Brief History Of Obvious (And Not So Obvious) Movie Titles

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There are movies that, like the well-known household sealer, do exactly what they say on the reel. Take Raiders Of The Lost Ark (ingredients: a lost ark, some raiders) and The Battle Of Algiers (and its sequel, ‘Clearing Up After The Battle Of Algiers’). Wherever you look there are plenty of others - Three Men And A Baby, Alien Vs. Predator and The Fighter to name just a few. These titles are a marketeer’s dream - slap them on a poster and you’re ready for the pub. Other films, though… well, let’s just say that we spent a long time waiting for the dog in Slumdog Millionaire. And we’re still waiting for the bit in Happiness when someone, anyone, cracks a smile. While we’re on it, why isn’t Sling Blade about a champion knife-thrower? Here’s a sliding scale of Ronseal movie titles, from the blindingly obvious to the mystifyingly obscure.

Blindingly Obvious Man On A Ledge
There's a man. He gets onto a ledge. What more do you need to know?

**Rear Window**  

There's a man. He has a window at the back of his house. He looks out of it. He can probably see Man On A Ledge. Riding The Bus With My Sister
Andie MacDowell and Rosie O'Donnell travel around an American city by subway minicab lightcycle bus. They're sisters. The Woman In Black
It's a movie about a scary lady who dresses in black. Look out, too, for the terrifying Paul W.S. Anderson sequel, 'Woman In Black Vs. Lady In Red: Requiem'.

My Dinner With Andre
Wallace Shawn (or 'my') goes out for dinner with actor/director Andre Gregory ( or 'Andre'). They talk. They eat. Louis Malle films it. Then they ask for the bill. Everyone goes home.

**Driving Miss Daisy**  

Jewish widow (Jessica Tandy) gets driven about in big car by Morgan Freeman. Until someone makes the Parker-from-the-Thunderbirds biopic, 'Driving Lady Penelope', this is the best driving-someone-around-in-a-car movie title on IMDb. Cars
With oil to change and carburetors to, erm, carburate, car lovers haven't got a lot of time to be faffing about deciphering cryptic movie titles. Being super-smart, Pixar knows this… hence Cars. If they'd made a Tom Cruise movie in the '80s, they'd have called it 'Nascars'.

Toy Story
Pixar already had a tradition of obvious titles before Cars. This would be higher up, except that it was so simple we thought it must be misleading.


It's a film about a font called Helvetica. They called it Helvetica.
Job done.

**Snakes On A Plane**  

The movie often cited as having the ultimate high-concept film title, although really Mike Leigh favourite 'Two Earthworms Moving Slowly Across A Field' still takes the honours.

**The Weather Man **  

This movie stars Nicolas Cage as a meteorologist who sticks the crazy to the map of life. This title could only be more literal if the weather man was played by Michael Fish. Please make this happen, Hollywood.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Arguably they should have specified that he goes to Washington DC rather than Washington State, or on a visit to Mr and Mrs G. Washington. Otherwise, however, it's pretty bang on the money.

**The English Patient**  

He's English and he's bedridden, so a good title, right? Wrong. Ralph Fiennes' count is not actually English and behind those bandages lies an amazing backstory. We'd have called it 'The Saucy Hungarian Map Guy'. Planes, Trains And Automobiles
Tipping point reached! Here's one of those titles that tells you what's in the movie but not what it's about. If it had been directed by the Dardennes brothers you'd find it under 'M' for 'Mean Thin Man And Hopeless Fat Man Learn Important Life Lessons'. It probably wouldn't have starred John Candy. The Apartment
With its seminal tagline ("Set inside the architecture of some more architecture") and great moments of inventory checks and lease agreement, Billy Wilder's real-estate classic sees Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine's can-do couple snag a desirable urban des res and see their dreams coming true. Hang on, that's Location, Location, Location. Fiddlesticks.

**Clash Of The Titans **  

"Titans will clash!", eh? Not really, since technically no Titans were involved. "Krakens will krack" maybe. We dread to think what kind of reaction this title got from the people who grumbled that Drive was short on driving. And we haven't even mentioned the 'in 3D' bit. Elephant
There are elephants in Water For Elephants, there are even elephants in Temple Of Doom, so where the heck are the elephants in Elephant? Except perhaps for on the poster. If you didn't know better, you'd think Gus van Sant's film was about teen love blossoming under the watchful eye of a tusky mentor. Could have been worse, though. He could have called it 'Oliphaunt'. Octopussy
Number of cats with eight legs in this movie? 000.

Monster's Ball
On paper, this sounds like one of the best things ever: a giant fiesta filled with beasties and furry freaks getting their fangy la-la's out, like the party at the end of The Leopard only with Ray Harryhausen and H. R. Giger in charge of the invite list. On screen, we got rape, suicide and prison. Not as good.


Most. Misleading. Title. Ever. Mystifyingly Obscure