Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Linguists in the Movies!

Obviously, there's Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. Then, after Stargate came out (Daniel always acts more like a linguist than an Egyptologist!), you got stuff like Disney's Atlantis.

But I never knew about a cute little Howard Hawks flick from 1941. In Ball of Fire, Gary Cooper is a linguist writing some kind of encyclopedia article on slang when he discovers that he's been missing out on a lot of good new slang all around him! Hijinks ensue as he invites all sorts of people back to his house (which he shares with seven other profs also working on the encyclopedia) for interviews, including a singer who's on the run from the cops and her gangster boyfriend.

The situation is silly (especially when the linguist is repeatedly confused with a cop), but the screenplay (by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder) shows an obvious love for "the living language" that is really endearing. Also, the musical numbers are definitely better than anything in Disney!

Anyway, you gotta love a movie with lines like, "Never mind the etymology -- was she a blonde or a brunette?"


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