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68 Disasters in Movies Trivia Questions & Answers

Disasters in Movies
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There are 68 questions on this topic. Last updated Mar 24 2023.
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1 The 1936 movie "San Francisco" takes place during the 1906 earthquake in that city, though the story involves fictional characters. Who plays the singer who is the object of Clark Gable's attention?
Answer: Jeanette Macdonald

Often paired cinematically with Nelson Eddy, Jeanette Macdonald plays Mary Blake who becomes a singer at Blackie Norton's (Gable) gambling and drinking establishment. Spencer Tracy plays Norton's childhood friend Father Tim Mullin, and Jack Holt plays an impresario who hopes to convince Mary to leave Blackie and sing in the opera. The earthquake provides a dramatic backdrop to this story.
2 Fire is alive and almost requires an acting credit in this 1991 thriller about two fireman brothers working to stop an arsonist in Chicago. What film stars Kurt Russell, William Baldwin and Robert De Niro, where fire is the real star?
Answer: Backdraft

1991's "Backdraft" packed an all-star cast. In addition to De Niro as the grizzled arson investigator, Baldwin as the rookie firefeighter and Russell as his older experienced brother, the movie featured Scott Glenn, Donald Sutherland, Rebecca De Mornay, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Gedrick. The complicated plot pits firefghters and arson investgators against a deadly arsonist tied to a corrupt city official. Filled with state of the art fire/rescue sequences, the portaryal of fire as almost a living elemental force is the more interesting element of the film. The film did well at the international box office earning over $150,000,000, received three Oscar nominations for technical merit and remains a highly watchable film today.

Backdrafts are a very real problem for firefighters. A backdraft is an explosion of flame that happens when a sudden source of air reaches a fire that has used up all the available oxygen. An example of a backdraft is the opening of a door to a room containing a fire. Backdrafts are dangerous for firepersons because the fire will surge to the source of the oxygen, which is often exactly where the firefighter is standing.
3 "Help! I'm shipwrecked!" That's what the Swiss family Robinson thought in the 1960 movie with the eponymous title. According to the movie, where was the family heading to when they experienced a shipwreck? (The book mentions another destination.)
Answer: New Guinea

The first movie entitled "The Swiss Family Robinson" hit the theatres in 1940. But we're talking here about the remake in 1960. (By the way, many other remakes have been made for movie theatres or for the little screen.)
In the 1960 movie, John Mills plays the father and Dorothy McGuire plays the mother. The children are played by James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran.
On their route to New Guinea, the family experiences a shipwreck and strands on a tropical island. Pirates abound in the nearby sea.
According to the book, the family Robinson was on their way to Australia.
4 Based on a true story, this 1996 movie follows a crew of teenage boys, led by "Skipper" (Jeff Bridges), on a school sailing ship. When their ship, Albatross, encounters a storm at sea, the boys must band together to get themselves and the ship through in one piece. Which movie is described above?
Answer: White Squall

A 'white squall' is defined as "a sudden and violent windstorm phenomenon at sea which is not accompanied by the black clouds generally characteristic of a squall." - Wikipedia

The boys are on the ship at the insistence of their parents, who feel they need discipline, respect, and to gain some life experience. The trip is set to be for eight months and even though the boys make it through some tough times (and have some pretty slack times!) the biggest lesson is having to work together to get through the white squall they encounter.

"The Perfect Storm" (2000) is about a commercial fishing boat and not a school sailing ship. "Flood" (2007) is a TV movie based on the same-titled book by Richard Doyle about the Thames Barrier in London being overwhelmed by water and subsequent flooding of London. "Arctic Blast" (2010) follows Jack Tate (Michael Shanks) as he tries to find a solution to the world starting to freeze after a solar eclipse.
5 In what city was the 1980 made-for-TV disaster mini-series "Condominium" set?
Answer: Miami

Based on the novel by John D. MacDonald, "Condominium" had a star-studded cast including Barbara Eden ("I Dream of Jeannie") and Dan Haggerty ("Grizzly Adams"). The mini-series was about a luxury high-rise complex doomed by shoddy workmanship and cheap building materials.
6 What was the last name of the desperate businessman determined to blow up the airplane in the original "Airport"?
Answer: Guerrero

D.O. Guerrero (played by Van Heflin) couldn't hold down a job because of his nasty temper. Out of options, he takes a bomb on board the plane with him, thinking his wife would be able to cash in on the flight insurance.
7 The earthquake in "Penny Serenade" (1941) is only a brief incident, but it has a major effect on the lives of Roger and Julie Adams (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne), when Julie miscarries the child they are expecting. Where are they when they experience the earthquake?
Answer: Japan

The movie is a series of flashbacks as the couple prepares to separate, and in one the young couple is shown on a trip to Japan, in the 1920s, during which the earthquake changes their lives. Julie finds she is afterwards unable to conceive another child, and they later turn to adoption to fill this gap in their lives. The results of this are shown in subsequent flashback scenes. Each flashback is a memory, triggered by a song as Julie goes through her collection of records.
8 What 1966 film is the screen adaptation of the classic Ray Bradbury dystopia where fireman do not save books, but burn them in support of a restrictive government regime?
Answer: Fahrenheit 451

It is often eerie to see how accurate some books and movies can be at predicitng the future. The premise of Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel, and the film version from 1966, is that a totalitarian American government has banned all books as a means to eliminate dissent and control information. Fireman are empowered to seek out and burn books. People are encouraged to receive information from giant wall sized televisions that show either government approved news or insipid "approved" programming. Expressing themes of the power of the visual media to control thought, demise of the printed word, and the negative effects of banning contrary opinion, the image of the future in "Fahrenheit 451" is maybe too real to ignore.

The 1966 movie is a relatively faithful adaptation of the book starring Oskar Werner as the conflicted "fireman" Montag who comes to reject his book burning task, and Julie Christie in a dual role as his wife and a 20 year old book lover who serves as the catalyst for change in Montag. The film was the only film directed by the great French director Francois Truffaut in English and his first foray into color production. While Truffaut's direction was praised,the movie was criticized for poor choices in casting Ms. Christie and Mr. Werner as the leads.
9 "Help! I'm shipwrecked!" That's what Richard (role by Christopher Atkins) thinks when he strands on a deserted tropical island. Luckily there's also the beautiful Emmeline (played by Brooke Shields) to keep him company, and Paddy (Leo McKern) to learn them how to fish and hunt. Paddy soon drowns, so the two youngsters remain on the island. What's the title of this 1980 movie?
Answer: The Blue Lagoon

"The Blue Lagoon" was rated "parent guided" because of the frequent nude scenes, involving young children or teens. Nevertheless, the movie became a great success.

I won't spoil the plot, but give a vague idea of what to expect. When Richard and Emmeline reach the island as young children (7-8 years), they have with them only the clothes they wear. The children remain on the island for at least eight years, and they have not had any lessons in making clothes...
10 Lots of storms set the scene for this 2004 movie, including tornadoes in Los Angeles, snowstorms in New Delhi and hailstorms in Tokyo. To make matters worse, three astronauts at the International Space Station discover one massive storm (soon to turn into three hurricanes with eyes that instantly freeze everything they come into contact with) covering the northern hemisphere. Which stormy disaster movie stars Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sela Ward?
Answer: The Day After Tomorrow

According to paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), this type of freezing (or Ice Age) should happen over hundreds or thousands of years, not a few days or weeks. "The Day After Tomorrow" follows several groups of people as they try to survive the ice storm bearing down on the US. Of course each group has some relation to the next making for more suspense as they try to find each other across a frozen country.

"Absolute Zero" (2006) was a movie made for TV, yet had a very similar in storyline to "The Day After Tomorrow". "2012: Ice Age" (2011) is billed as a 'mockbuster' (a film created to piggy-back on the success of a recent movie, usually released straight to DVD) using elements of "The Day After Tomorrow". "End Day" (2005) is a BBC docu-drama depicting several different doomsday scenarios.
11 In the blockbuster feature film "Independence Day", which Los Angeles landmark is destroyed by the alien's powerful pulse beam?
Answer: Library Tower

At a height of 1,018 feet, Library Tower, originally known as First Interstate World Center and renamed US Bank Tower (as of 2003), was at one time the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Though designed to withstand an 8.3 magnitude earthquake, its celluloid twin was no match for alien firepower.
12 What is the name of the snowbound airport in "Airport"?
Answer: Lincoln International Airport

The fictional airport, somewhere in the Midwest, had to cope with a terrible snowstorm despite having outdated snow-removal equipment and short runways.
13 It is an undersea earthquake (sometimes described as a volcanic eruption) that sets the events of "Gorgo" (1961) in motion, by putting a baby giant lizard in the hands of some unscrupulous seamen. Which city suffers from the wrath of the baby's mother, who comes to rescue him from captivity?
Answer: London

"Gorgo" is a British-made movie with American input, filmed in Ireland and London, and starring Bill Travers as the sea captain who captures the juvenile monster and sells him to a London circus. The action heats up when scientists announce that Gorgo is a mere baby, and his full-grown mother appears in search of him. After she sinks a naval ship or two, she arrives on the streets of the capital city, destroying buildings and vehicles in her wake. In a rather surprising ending, a mother and child reunion is successful, and both survive.
14 What actor, better known for his dancing in "Saturday Night Fever", stars as Baltimore Maryland Fireman Mike Kennedy in 2004's "Ladder 49"?
Answer: John Travolta

"Ladder 49" is the tale of the relationship between experienced fireman Mike Kennedy played by Travolta and the younger Jack Morrison played by Joaquin Phoenix. The movie is considered one of the more accurate and realistic representations of the difficulties, dangers and sacrifices made by modern fireman in battling fires of all shapes and sizes. The film is told in flashback, as Travolta tries to save his friend and protégé, Phoenix, who is trapped inside a burning high rise building. The film was received with mixed reviews and is considered only a mild success having grossed just slightly over $100,000,000 in worldwide box office.

John Travolta came to fame in the early 1970s on US television as the rather dim, perpetual high school student Vinnie Barbarino on "Welcome Back, Kotter". Roles in 1975's "Carrie" and 1976's "The Boy in The Plastic Bubble" opened the way for Travolta to become one of the 1970s and 1980s biggest movie stars, when he starred in 1977's "Saturday Night Fever" and 1978's "Grease". By the mid 1980s Travolta's star had dimmed, only to be rekindled when he played a heroin-using hit man in 1994's "Pulp Fiction".
15 "Help! I'm shipwrecked!" That's what Andrew Braddock (role of Michael York) thinks when he lands on the shores of a deserted island. Although, deserted? Not quite: there is a scientist (played by Burt Lancaster) on the island, with his assistant Dr. Montgomery (role of Nigel Davenport), as well as a young lady named Maria (played by Barbara Carrera). What is the name of the scientist played by Burt Lancaster?
Answer: Dr. Moreau

The movie title reveals the correct answer: it is the 1977 movie "The Island of Dr. Moreau". Andrew Braddock is at first relieved to find some human company, but that will soon be replaced by fear of the unorthodox exeperiments Dr. Moreau performs on the animals on the island. I won't spoil the plot: find the movie somewhere and see for yourself.
The first movie adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel with the same title was made in 1932. Another remake was made in 1996.
16 What could be worse than weathering a storm on a Pacific island? Dealing with racist white colonials, a sadistic jailer and several attempts to escape from a sixteen-year jail sentence is just a start in this tropical 1937 film starring Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall. Which movie, filmed as a flashback, does this plot describe?
Answer: The Hurricane

"The Hurricane" (1937) was produced by Samuel Goldwyn Productions and directed by John Ford. The film starts with Dr Kersaint (Thomas Mitchell) telling his story to a fellow passenger as they sail past his former 'home' (cue: flashback).

An interesting bit of information regarding this film is that Jon Hall's uncle, James Norman Hall, wrote the novel that the film was based on.

"Tornado" and "Tsunami" were titles I made up, although who knows?, they could get used for future films. "The Big Wet" is a film about wildlife in Australia's tropical north, nothing to do with natural disasters at all!
17 In the 1977 post-apocalypse feature "Damnation Alley", which Eastern state capital was believed to be the only city that was not destroyed?
Answer: Albany, New York

George Peppard and Jan-Michael Vincent starred in this movie, based on Roger Zelazny's novel.
18 In the 1978 thriller "The Swarm", which major southern city is occupied by swarms of killer bees?
Answer: Houston

One of Irwin Allen's last films, "The Swarm" featured the requisite all-star cast, including Michael Caine and Katherine Ross. It was based on a 1974 novel by Arthur Herzog.
19 Another undersea earthquake unleashes the tidal wave that capsizes the title vessel of "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972). What holiday is being celebrated aboard when disaster strikes?
Answer: New Year's Eve

The passengers and crew of the ship are mostly in the ballroom, listening to a musical group perform and waiting for midnight to greet the new year when the tidal wave tips the ship completely over. The Rev. Scott (Gene Hackman) takes on the duty of leading a small group of willing survivors upwards towards the keel of the ship, which is now its highest point. After a dangerous few hours, some of them reach their goal and are rescued.

The 2005 TV movie of the same name changes the way the ship is capsized to an act of terror, and 2006's "Poseidon" has a rogue wave as the culprit, but all three use New Year's Eve celebrations as the starting point.
20 Steve Martin stars in "Roxanne", which transforms what classic French play into a modern love story of a "proboscically challenged" American fireman?
Answer: Cyrano de Bergerac

Steve Martin plays C.D. Bales, the Fire Chief of a small Washington state town. While eloquent and charming, C.D. has a large nose that saps his confidence around women. A beautiful astronomer played by Darrel Hannah, Roxanne, moves into town. C.D. is attracted to Roxanne; however, he believes he is not good looking enough for her. He agrees to help a classically handsome but rather intellectually limited colleague in winning over Roxanne. C.D. creates poetry and witty conversation for the younger man to voice. Eventually, Roxanne learns who has been charming her, and amidst the dangers of a real fire, she and C.D profess their love.

Roxanne is, of course, the name of the heroine from Edmund Rostand's 1897 play "Cyrano de Bergerac". Rostand's large nosed, love-struck soldier is transformed into Martin's Fire Chief. A hilarious scene has Martin recounting 20 "big nose" insults in rapid succession to humiliate a would be heckler. That scene mirrors a similar set of verse from the play. Unlike other movies about fireman, the danger level is dialed way down in "Roxanne", as romance and laughs are center stage.
21 "Help! I'm shipwrecked!" The best known victim of a shipwreck is arguably Robinson Crusoe, after whom dozens of movies and TV series are named. In the 1997 movie adaptation, we find Pierce Brosnan as the title character. Ian Hart plays the Seventeenth Century author of this classical novel. What is the name of this author portrayed by Ian Hart?
Answer: Daniel Defoe

The story is well known: Robinson Crusoe is stranded on a deserted island. After a certain period of time, he meets a native from nearby islands, whom he takes as his slave. But the other natives come to fetch Robinson's slave as a sacrifice to their idols.
Oddly enough, the 1997 movie never hit the theatres in the UK nor in the USA. It was sold directly on DVD.
22 Most people try to avoid the path of a storm, but there are some who are fascinated with the wind and the power and destruction it can wreak. What 1996 movie starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton shows that even when a couple divorces, their fascination with tornado winds can blow them together again and again?
Answer: Twister

The windy disaster movie is indeed "Twister". Also starring in this windswept action flick are Cary Elwes and Jami Gertz. "Castaway" starred Helen Hunt and Tom Hanks, but it did not have to do with tornadoes or hurricanes. "As Good As It Gets" stars Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson, but it has no windy weather to speak of. "The Wind in the Willows" sounds like a good candidate for this question, but it is a children's movie that has no severe weather either.
23 Which famous aircraft was the focus of the fourth movie of the "Airport" series?
Answer: Concorde

The stars of "Airport '79", including series regular George Kennedy, encounter danger and death as they travel in supersonic luxury from Washington, DC, to Moscow.
24 Which major Midwestern city is shown being destroyed by nuclear attack in the controversial 1983 made-for-TV drama "The Day After"?
Answer: Kansas City

Kansas City's fate is sealed due to the fact that it is so close to a major missile base. The late Jason Robards, playing a doctor who also teaches at the University of Kansas, is on his way back to the city when the Russians attack.
25 What city is devastated by the title disaster in "Earthquake" (1974)?
Answer: Los Angeles

This is one of many disaster movies made in the 1970s, with an all star cast interacting as people caught up in a violent earthquake that destroys much of Los Angeles, bringing out both the best and the worst in the people affected by it. Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene and Walter Matthau are only some of the members of that cast.

The film boasts Oscar wins for sound and visual effects (special achievement award) and is one of the earliest movies to have been filmed in Sensurround, which attempts to make viewers in the theatre feel like they are really "there" experiencing what the characters are experiencing.