"Is it too hard?" David Thomson asked me when he submitted his second Impossibly Hard Quiz (to accompany his new Hollywood history, "The Big Screen"). I jumped into the rabbit hole for a few queries and thought if I gave it enough time I'd be able figure them out. Did I have that time? No. And when Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule quiz master Dennis Cozzalio abandoned ship early on I should have known something was wrong. (Here's the first "Stump-the-Film-Buff" quiz.)
Yes, boys and girls, only two people sent in enough answers to this quiz to be in the running. Many of the questions had multiple answers, so it was tough to get all 30 right. Congrats to winner Jeffrey Miller, who was the first to submit an answer. He got most of 25 answers right, while runner-up Sara Sana summoned up more or less 19 right answers. Why was it so hard? Thomson admitted later that he purposely devised the quiz so that it would be difficult to look up online.
In some cases there were a variety of legitimate answers:
1. Who was responsible for Pyewacket, Florio, Flike, the Lydia and 5135 Kensington?
Pyewacket is Kim Novak’s cat in Bell, Book and Candle; Florio is Tippi Hedren’s horse in Marnie; Flike is the old man’s dog in Umberto D; the Lydia is the ship in Captain Horatio Hornblower; and 5135 Kensington is the family house in Meet Me in St Louis.
2. What was the decision in cases involving Tom Robinson, Dr Towler, Madeleine Smith, Tom Garrett, Dominique Marceau?
Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) is guilty in To Kill a Mockingbird; the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff against Dr Towler (Wesley Addy) in The Verdict; Madeleine Smith (Ann Todd) is “not proven” in Madeleine; Tom Garrett (Dana Andrews) is guilty in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt; Dominique Marceau (Brigitte Bardot) is guilty in La Verite.
3. Who is raised up or shot down by the 3, the jack of diamonds, the queen of diamonds, and 23?
Axel (James Caan) in The Gambler; Steve McQueen in The Cincinnati Kid; Leslie Parrish in The Manchurian Candidate; Joy Page in Casablanca
4. Who or what did the following see across the way: Paul Sheridan, Tom Doyle, Lou, Terry Lambert, Edouard Lestingois?
Paul Sheridan (Fred MacMurray) watches Kim Novak in Pushover; Tom Doyle (Wendell Corey) doesn’t see much wrong in Rear Window; Lou (Burt Lancaster) watches Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City; Terry Lambert (Steve Guttenberg) sees an attack in The Bedroom Window; and Edouard Lestingois (Charles Granval) sees Boudu in the river in Boudu Saved from Drowning.
5. What do these characters have in common: Paul Mallen, Nedda Longden, Jenny Maple? And which one makes you think of Brideshead Revisited?
They are all characters created by Patrick Hamilton: Paul Mallen is Anton Walbrook in the original Gaslight; Nedda Longden is a character in Hangover Square, based on the real actress Geraldine Fitzgerald; Jenny Maple is in 20,000 Streets Under the Sky. Nedda might make you think of Brideshead Revisited because Geraldine Fitzgerald had a child by Orson Welles who was named Michael Lindsay-Hogg and he directed several episodes of the original Brideshead .
6. Who said, “One moment and I’ll give you a kiss.”; “Do you realize I haven’t kissed you in over an hour?”; and “Drawing room E, car thirty-nine-oh-one.”?
Marlene Dietrich to Lionel Atwill in The Devil is a Woman; Charlton Heston to Janet Leigh in Touch of Evil; Eva Marie Saint to Cary Grant in North by Northwest