I was listening to a radio report on health care reform when a commentator compared the debate to the film Groundhog Day. I’ve heard this film used to refer to events which seem to repeat themselves frequently.
The film Wag the Dog has been used to suggest a leader trying to misdirect public attention regarding a scandal. When Clinton launched cruise missiles during the Lewinsky scandal, everyone accused him of wagging the dog.
(big faker. No one ever heard from that Bin Laden guy ever again!)
How about “The Bible”? I guess the etymology refers to a generic “holy book.” It shifted to mean the guiding work of Christianity, and these days also gets applied to any definitive work/major book of instructions on nearly any other topic, as in “Oh, you have to buy his book, it’s the absolute bible of homebrewing.”
Many of these existed before the movie – Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Catch-22. The movies may have helped popularize them, but these metaphors were really created by the books.
Star Wars, used as a reference to SDI-type space-based systems, definitely isn’t based on any book. The Russians loved the metaphor, because it made the US look like warmongers for pushing it. As Ben Bova pointed out, in his day this would have been called a “Buck Rogers” device. I heard SF-type things called “Buck Rogers” devices as a kid, even though there hadn’t been a Buck Rogers movie in many decades, and the comic strip was obscure.*
*“Buck Rogers” doesn’t count – he existed as a book and a comic strip before they made the movie serial, and it was the comic strip that really lead to his popularity.