The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100

The Bechdel Test is a surprisingly simple test to see if females are included in a movie. All it asks for is three simple things:

1) There are two females in the movie who have names.

2) These two females talk to each other at some point.

3) They talk about anything other than men.

Simple, right? But in going through the AFI Top 100 I found that in some cases I couldn't even get the FIRST criteria to pass - there weren't even two female characters with names in the movie! Sometimes it made sense, like Patton. In Patton I don't think there's any speaking female in the movie, at all. I think maybe a nurse murmurs something in a hospital scene once and that's it. There wasn't a single female in Platoon that spoke English. Just one villager.

But how about Gold Rush? In Gold Rush a portion of the movie is about the saloon girls of Alaska - but only one of them, Georgia, has a name! The rest are nameless giggling girls. Everyone else gets a name in the movie. But not the "girls". Even a fairly female-centric movie like Annie Hall barely passes. There is only ONE scene in the entire movie, a montage, where her mom says something and his mom responds. That's it.

Here's a list of the movies that past the Bechdel Test!

1.Citizen Kane1941-
3.The Godfather1972-
4.Gone With the Wind1939*
5.Lawrence of Arabia1962-
6.The Wizard of Oz1939*
7.The Graduate1967-
8.On the Waterfront1954-
9.Schindler's List1993-
10.Singin' in the Rain1952-
11.It's a Wonderful Life1946-
12.Sunset Boulevard1950*
13.The Bridge on the River Kwai1957-
14.Some Like it Hot1959-
15.Star Wars1977-
16.All About Eve1950*
17.The African Queen1951-
20.One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest1975-
21.The Grapes of Wrath1940-
22.2001: A Space Odyssey1968-
23.The Maltese Falcon1941-
24.Raging Bull1980-
25.E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial1982-
26.Dr. Strangelove1964-
27.Bonnie and Clyde1967*
28.Apocalypse Now1979-
29.Mr. Smith Goes to Washington1939-
30.The Treasure of the Sierra Madre1948-
31.Annie Hall1977*
32.The Godfather Part II1974-
33.High Noon1952-
34.To Kill a Mockingbird1962*
35.It Happened One Night1934-
36.Midnight Cowboy1969-
37.The Best Years of Our Lives1946*
38.Double Indemnity1944-
39.Doctor Zhivago1965-
40.North by Northwest1959-
41.West Side Story1961*
42.Rear Window1954*
43.King Kong1933-
44.The Birth of a Nation1915*
45.A Streetcar Named Desire1951*
46.A Clockwork Orange1971-
47.Taxi Driver1976-
49.Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs1937*
50.Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid1969-
51.The Philadelphia Story1940*
52.From Here to Eternity1953*
54.All Quiet on the Western Front1930-
55.The Sound of Music1965*
57.The Third Man1949-
59.Rebel Without a Cause1955-
60.Raiders of the Lost Ark1981-
64.Close Encounters of the Third Kind1977-
65.The Silence of the Lambs1991*
67.The Manchurian Candidate1962-
68.An American in Paris1951-
70.The French Connection1971-
71.Forrest Gump1994-
73.Wuthering Heights1939*
74.The Gold Rush1925-
75.Dances With Wolves1990-
76.City Lights1931-
77.American Graffiti1973-
79.The Deer Hunter1978-
80.The Wild Bunch1969-
81.Modern Times1936-
85.Duck Soup1933-
86.Mutiny on the Bounty1935-
88.Easy Rider1969-
90.The Jazz Singer1927*
91.My Fair Lady1964*
92.A Place in the Sun1951*
93.The Apartment1960*
95.Pulp Fiction1994*
96.The Searchers1956*
97.Bringing Up Baby1938*
99.Guess Who's Coming to Dinner1967*
100.Yankee Doodle Dandy1942*

Passed the Test - 32
Failed the Test - 68

It's amazing how many of the movies don't even have two named female characters in them. Like King Kong. Just one female character - the one who continuously screams :) It's also amazing how the few that pass often "barely pass". In just one scene in the entire movie there'll be one sentence that two women share, and that's it. So even out of those that "pass", many are scraping by.

We're not even asking for women to be the FOCUS of a movie. It's just asking that women even SPEAK in a movie. It's sad to think that out of 100 movies, most barely have women who are allowed to speak.

Original AFI Top 100
AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100

10th Anniversary of the AFI Top 100
AFI Top 100 Film Listing 10th Anniversary
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100 10th Anniversary
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100 10th Anniversary