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!

New RankOld RankMovieYearPasses?
11Citizen Kane1941-
23The Godfather1972-
410Singin' in the Rain1952-
524Raging Bull1980-
64Gone With the Wind1939*
75Lawrence of Arabia1962-
89Schindler's List1993-
106The Wizard of Oz1939*
1176City Lights1931-
1296The Searchers1956*
1315Star Wars1977-
15222001: A Space Odyssey1968-
1612Sunset Boulevard1950*
177The Graduate1967-
18NEWThe General1927-
198On the Waterfront1954-
2011It's a Wonderful Life1946-
2214Some Like it Hot1959-
2321The Grapes of Wrath1940-
2425E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial1982-
2534To Kill a Mockingbird1962*
2629Mr. Smith Goes to Washington1939-
2733High Noon1952-
2816All About Eve1950*
2938Double Indemnity1944-
3028Apocalypse Now1979-
3123The Maltese Falcon1941-
3232The Godfather Part II1974-
3320One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest1975-
3449Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs1937*
3531Annie Hall1977*
3613The Bridge on the River Kwai1957-
3737The Best Years of Our Lives1946*
3830The Treasure of the Sierra Madre1948-
3926Dr. Strangelove1964-
4055The Sound of Music1965*
4143King Kong1933-
4227Bonnie and Clyde1967*
4336Midnight Cowboy1969-
4451The Philadelphia Story1940*
4635It Happened One Night1934-
4745A Streetcar Named Desire1951*
4842Rear Window1954*
50NEWLord of the Rings2001-
5141West Side Story1961*
5247Taxi Driver1976-
5379The Deer Hunter1978-
5540North by Northwest1959-
5874The Gold Rush1925-
6085Duck Soup1933-
61NEWSullivan's Travels1941*
6277American Graffiti1973-
6517The African Queen1951-
6660Raiders of the Lost Ark1981-
67NEWWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf1966*
7046A Clockwork Orange1971-
71NEWSaving Private Ryan1998-
72NEWThe Shawshank Redemption1994-
7350Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid1969-
7465The Silence of the Lambs1991*
75NEWIn the Heat of the Night1967-
7671Forrest Gump1994-
77NEWAll the President's Men1976-
7881Modern Times1936-
7980The Wild Bunch1969-
8093The Apartment1960*
82NEWSunrise: A Song of Two Humans1927-
8488Easy Rider1969-
85NEWA Night at the Opera1935-
87NEW12 Angry Men1957-
8897Bringing Up Baby1938*
89NEWThe Sixth Sense1999-
90NEWSwing Time1936-
91NEWSophie's Choice1982*
9370The French Connection1971-
9495Pulp Fiction1994*
95NEWThe Last Picture Show1971*
96NEWDo the Right Thing1989-
97NEWBlade Runner1982-
98100Yankee Doodle Dandy1942*
99NEWToy Story1995-

Passed the Test - 30
Failed the Test - 70

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