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Movie Mom

The Art of Movie Titles

posted by Nell Minow

Salon has a fascinating interview with Matthew Cohen, an expert in movie titles.
Four letters can tell you everything you need to know: “Jaws”
Some other memorable one-word titles: “Titanic,” “Grease,” “Fargo,” “Elf,” “Blow,” “Amadeus,” “Goldfinger”
Some movie titles use what we already know to capture our attention: “Pretty Woman,” “‘
Some titles explain what we’re going to see: “The King and I,” “The Great Train Robbery,” “I Was a Male War Bride”
Some have to be explained: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” Some we have to figure out for ourselves: “Gone With the Wind,” “Chariots of Fire”
Some don’t seem to mean anything at all, or maybe everything: Anthony Hopkins has starred in “Fracture,” “Instinct,” and “The Edge” any of which could apply equally well to the other two.
And be sure to check out this hilarious article in Slate about what happens to American movie titles when they get translated overseas.

  • Alicia

    I read that Salon interview, and I thought Cohen had an interesting take on movies with very generic names like “Something’s Gotta Give,” and “As Good As It Gets.” I’ve always thought those were terrible titles because they don’t tell anything about what the movie is about.
    They are sort of “noncommittal.” But on the other hand, great movies like “Casablanca” and “Gone with the Wind” don’t really have such great titles, just great memories and associations which make the titles seem unique.

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