The appearance of a weather word in a film's title can give you a forecast of its contents. Windy films are dramatic, snow signals adventure and rain is surprisingly romantic.

A few weeks ago, we looked at the incidence of various weather words in the comedies, tragedies and histories of Shakespeare. One conclusion was that, for the Bard at least, snow was funnier than rain. Thanks to the Corel All-movie Guide on CD-Rom, I have now been able to perform a similar analysis of film titles, using its basic classification of each film's genre. There are around 40 categories, such as Romance, Action, Adventure, Drama, Comedy, Musical etc, with each film classified under all appropriate headings. So the 1957 film Island in the Sun is a Political, Crime, Drama; Snow Creature (1954) is an Adventure, Horror, Suspense, Thriller, Sci-fi, Classic; and Gone With the Wind (1939) is a Tragedy, Romance, Sex-related, Historical, Ballet/Dance, War, Action, Drama, Epic, Classic, Show film.

There are 98 feature films listed with the word "sun" in the title, 60 with "wind", 33 with "rain", 28 with "snow", and 17 with "clouds". The table below shows the percentages of films with those words in their titles that fall into each of the categories listed (columns sum to more than 100 because of multiple categorisations).

A number of significant correlations can be seen, but they do not always support those of our earlier Shakespearean analysis. Snow in films, for example, is not as funny as rain or cloud, but emerges as the strongest climatic indicator of adventure. Wind is scarcely funny at all, but gives a better chance than any other weather word of the film being a true-life story. There was also a high incidence of wind in Shakespeare's histories.

Snow is surprisingly undramatic, though it is the best indicator of adventure. Rain is clearly the most dramatic weather, but is also somewhat surprisingly the best sign of romance. Presumably we may expect some turbulence in the relationships depicted in such films. Westerns, however, do not contain even the merest hint of rain; Cowboy films take place in the sun and the wind.

Cloud emerges as the best sign of action, crime and war - but any film with "cloud" in its title seems unlikely to be considered a classic. Perhaps the most surprising of all, however, is sun, which, although it is the most common of all weather words in film titles, does not appear at the top of the list for any film category. All that can be said about sunny films is that they are relatively unromantic and free of sex, and are very unlikely to be of the horror genre.

To some extent at least, the above analysis confirms that you can tell a film by its title.

Meteorology at the movies

Su Wi Ra Sn Cl

Drama 50 67 82 46 59

Adventure 35 32 27 54 24

Action 22 18 21 32 41

War 15 15 9 11 18

Comedy 14 2 18 11 18

Crime 14 12 24 14 41

Romance 13 10 36 21 18

Suspense 12 15 24 11 12

Thriller 6 8 15 11 6

Western 8 8 0 4 6

True-life 5 10 3 4 6

Classic 4 8 3 4 0

Sex-related 3 5 6 4 6

Horror 1 7 3 7 6

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