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20 Great Movies With Wildly Misleading Titles

19 November 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

misleading movie titles

There are uninspiring film titles (Not Without My Daughter), weird film titles (The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies) and the film titles that deliver what they promise (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). But some films go by monikers that are as unenlightening as they are unenticing – and even when the film itself is great, surely there’s room for improvement.


20. The Constant Gardener


Sounds Like: A harrowing biopic of a flora-obsessed OCD sufferer, compelled by forces beyond his control to till the soil until his fingers really do go green. Gangrene, that is.

When In Fact: It’s Fernando Meirelles’ nomination-hoovering adaptation of the John Le Carré novel, following British diplomat Justin Quayle around some of the dustiest and least garden-friendly corners of Africa after his wife is murdered under sinister circumstances. We reckon he should’ve travelled by ride-on mower, a la Alvin Straight, but what do we know?


19. Brazil


Sounds Like: A sense-overloading carnival documentary with added cocaine peddling, favela-based gun play, and being impoosibly brilliant at football despite (or possibly because of) only ever having kicked around on a nudey beach outside of the World Cup. All aspects of which may contain generous traces of lazy stereotype.

When In Fact: The only reference to Brazil in Terry Gilliam’s entire dystopian nightmare adventure is made in the recurring musical motif. Aquarela do Brasil, or ‘Watercolour Of Brasil’, is a tune made famous in 1939 by composer, football commentator and all-round freaky polymath Ary Barroso – Gilliam’s tortured souls frequently hum snatches of the movie’s de facto theme as a much-needed method of escapism.


18. Monster’s Ball


Sounds Like: We’d like to say a masquerade party held in the underworld, but predictably enough that isn’t quite where our minds went first. We jumped straight to tentacled testiculars, and for that we make no apologies. Apart from this one. Sorry.

When In Fact: Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton chew the scenery with aplomb as the unlikeliest of couples, meeting in less than ideal circumstances but managing to carve out a mutually needy understanding across the (figurative and literal) fences of the local Louisiana prison and widower guard Hank’s inherited racial prejudice.


17. Courage Of Lassie


Sounds Like: It might have a certain glossy-coated TV pooch in it. One who’s really good at sensing immediately when the local idiot child becomes stuck down a remote disused mine shaft, and working out the quickest route to rescue him without so much as a cursory glance at Google Maps.

When In Fact: It doesn’t. At all. No, the panting protagonist in 1946′s outrageously titled Courage Of Lassie – which stars a young Elizabeth Taylor, dontchaknow – is called Bill, and becomes a bit too bitey for the community’s liking after serving in a war. Dogs bearing the on-screen name of Eric Knight’s famous canine creation remain somewhat conspicuous by their absence throughout.

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  • Jon Hironimus

    Reservoir Dogs

  • John Taylor

    Only misleading if you happened to avoid all mention of the films on this list.

  • Diogo Santiago

    Nice thoughts about Brazil …

  • Nathan Falldorf

    I would have to add All the Pretty Horses. I was told to watch this movie, I thought it was going to be like a Black Beauty type of movie. Wow was I wrong.

  • Bret Dark

    Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

  • jade ru

    Maybe you didn’t actually watch Secondhand Lions. In the movie the 2 uncles buy an old lion that no one wanted anymore. Hence the “secondhand”. It’s symbolic for the ……oh screw it. Dis are a goot movin’ picture.

  • Michael Andrew Clark

    ‘A Clockwork Orange’ & ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’

  • krone888

    Silence of the Lambs and A Clockwork Orange have bizarre not not misleading but strange titles for the types of films they are .

  • Andrew Kidd

    Curse of the Cat People. :)