Good Films with Bad Titles?

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Little Caesar

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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 3:50 am

How about "Christmas Holiday" (1944)? Based upon the title and the two leading players (Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly) alone, I would assume that the movie would be a light-hearted, musical frolic. Instead, the movie is about as bleak as can be. Another misleading title is "In the Good Old Summertime" (1949). The movie focuses on Christmas far more than the summer season!
Never cry over spilt milk, because it may have been poisoned. - W.C. Fields
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 8:12 am

Many of those are good titles, particularly in context. For instance, Shaun of the Dead is a play on Dawn of the Dead; A Clockwork Orange is the metaphor used at one point in the book for something that appears to have life, but lacks free will, the central precoccupation of the novel.

And Hot Tub Time Machine sums up the premise exactly.

Anyway, better that than the Maximum Impact school of generic two-word action movie titles from the 80s...
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 10:34 am

Good point, boss.

And as life can be weird, if filmed drama is ever to be seen as in any way, "holding a mirror up to nature," it makes sense that a story has a weird title oncet in a while.

(It ain't ALL prosaic!)
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 1:42 pm

Donald Binks wrote:I don't know if they were good films or not, but some film titles I found a trifle strange were:

"The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes"
"The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini"
"Rat Pfink a Boo Boo"
"Freddy Got Fingered"
"The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain"
"Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla"
"Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers"
"The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing"
"I Still Know What You Did Last Summer"
"The Men Who Stare at Goats"
"My Own Private Idaho"
"The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants"
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
"Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?
"They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"
"Koyaanisqatsi"
"Bedtime for Bonzo"
"Donkey Punch"
"I'll Never Forget What's'isname"
"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
"The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover"
"Octopussy"
"Vanilla Sky"
"Naked Lunch"
"The Adjustment Bureau"
"A Clockwork Orange"
"Shaun of the Dead"
"Hot Tub Time Machine"


"Hey, Boss! I've got a great idea for a picture!"
"Oh! Yeah? What's it called?" ....................


I've actually SEEN Steckler's RAT PFINK A BOO BOO. What I understood was that the title should have been RAT PFINK AND BOO BOO, (a play on BATMAN AND ROBIN), but it somehow got fouled up. The copy I saw was a crummy VHS, bit it's on YT (I looked to check the exact titling) if you feel like a basinful!
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 4:33 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:Many of those are good titles, particularly in context. For instance, Shaun of the Dead is a play on Dawn of the Dead; A Clockwork Orange is the metaphor used at one point in the book for something that appears to have life, but lacks free will, the central precoccupation of the novel.

And Hot Tub Time Machine sums up the premise exactly.

Anyway, better that than the Maximum Impact school of generic two-word action movie titles from the 80s...


Perhaps one of them could have been slightly altered to make more sense? - "The Hot Tub is a Time Machine" ?
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 8:05 pm

I won't go into specifics because there are too many, but reading the titles of modern films in general leaves me utterly clueless to what they might be about. Many seem far too cryptic and meaningless. I find that less of a problem with older titles.

Further, more than once when visitors who know nothing about old films see my huge collection of DVD's which are near the the front entrance of my home have commented about all the great sounding titles but never heard of the films.
Perhaps all the great and meaningful titles have already been used up a long time ago.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 8:44 pm

NIGHT CREATURES, I WAKE UP SCREAMING, and THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING all sound like they might be cheap horror films, but each is actually part of a different genre and well-worth checking out.

NIGHT CREATURES (1962) was the misleadingly-titled American release of the effective British CAPTAIN CLEEG with Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed, a good historical adventure story (also made by Disney as THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH), about an 18th-century smuggler leading a double life. I guess the fact that a lot of the action happens at night and the historical figure is not well-known to Americans inspired the title change. Still it's included in a Blu-ray box set of Hammer horror films, which may confuse and disappoint horror buffs.

I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941) is a fine and ultra-moody film noir mystery-thriller with Victor Mature and Betty Grable trying to figure out who really murdered Grable's sister (Carole Landis) while creepy detective Laird Cregar is railroading Mature into being charged with the crime. This was also released under the even more misleading title HOT SPOT.

THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964) is a taut little British post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller by Terence Fisher about a man who discovers the entire population is dead except for a few scattered survivors, who then assemble in a small village to figure out why they survived and what is going on. The plot moves along quite effectively and wraps everything up in only 62 minutes!
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 9:15 pm

Changsham wrote:I won't go into specifics because there are too many, but reading the titles of modern films in general leaves me utterly clueless to what they might be about. Many seem far too cryptic and meaningless. I find that less of a problem with older titles.

Further, more than once when visitors who know nothing about old films see my huge collection of DVD's which are near the the front entrance of my home have commented about all the great sounding titles but never heard of the films.
Perhaps all the great and meaningful titles have already been used up a long time ago.



Just got finished watching Always in my Heart and Ever in my Heart. Darned if i could tell you which was which. Apparently there are two other films with the same title as the former, who knows if they in any way related. I used to joke about "The Mummy's Curse." "The Mummy's Tomb." "The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb." I very quickly lost track of which plot belonged to which title.

I always thought "God Gave Me Twenty Cents" (1926) was a particularly strange title.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 9:44 pm

greta de groat wrote:Just got finished watching Always in my Heart and Ever in my Heart. Darned if i could tell you which was which. Apparently there are two other films with the same title as the former, who knows if they in any way related. I used to joke about "The Mummy's Curse." "The Mummy's Tomb." "The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb." I very quickly lost track of which plot belonged to which title.


CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB was one of Hammer's attempts to cash in on the Universal franchise. THE MUMMY'S TOMB and THE MUMMY'S CURSE were the third and fifth films in Universal's original series. You also forgot THE MUMMY'S HAND, THE MUMMY'S GHOST, THE MUMMY'S SHROUD, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB, et al. At least any movie with "mummy" in the title usually gives a good idea of what to expect (and immediately goes onto my "to watch" list), although the light-hearted 1999 "remake" of THE MUMMY for whatever reason turned out to be more of an uncredited remake of the underrated and long-forgotten 1969 Gregory Peck all-star epic western MACKENNA'S GOLD, whereas the trailers to the new "remake" of THE MUMMY look more like a comic book CGI extravaganza sci-fi action horror-fantasy. I'll probably watch it but to cleanse my palate I plan to revisit all six of the original and newly-restored editions of Universal's classic mummy movies in a couple of weeks, with the new Blu-ray box set conveniently released to tie in with the new movie (and likely far more enjoyable).

Coincidentally, even Germain Dulac's oddly-titled 1919 romantic melodrama THE CIGARETTE (on Flicker Alley's new "Early Women Filmmakers" set) deals with an archaeologist and the mummy of an Egyptian princess whose marriage to a much older Pharaoh led to problems paralleling those in the life of the present-day archaeologist and his much younger wife. In this case the film's title does relate to a major plot point, but certainly does little to inspire interest in watching what's really a rather interesting film.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 8:22 am

Changsham wrote:I won't go into specifics because there are too many, but reading the titles of modern films in general leaves me utterly clueless to what they might be about. Many seem far too cryptic and meaningless.


I hear ya. Silver Linings Playbook -- that's a football film, right? And Good Will Hunting -- that's about somebody who doesn't believe there is any goodwill in the world these days, so he travels to exotic countries to prove his point. Or maybe it's about a good, nice, decent person named Will who goes on a hunting trip and encounters a bunch of sodomite hillbillies.

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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 11:53 am

Christopher Jacobs wrote:I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941) is a fine and ultra-moody film noir mystery-thriller with Victor Mature and Betty Grable trying to figure out who really murdered Grable's sister (Carole Landis) while creepy detective Laird Cregar is railroading Mature into being charged with the crime. This was also released under the even more misleading title HOT SPOT.


When we finished watching this film, I turned to my wife and asked, "So who woke up screaming? And why was he or she screaming?"

Jim
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 3:58 pm

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) probably put a lot of people off but they were surprisingly good low budget 'horror' movies.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 7:31 pm

rangebuster wrote:Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) probably put a lot of people off but they were surprisingly good low budget 'horror' movies.

Old TV sitcoms used to parody odd movie titles. On one episode of MISTER ED, the horse wanted to see I WAS THE BRIDE OF THE MEXICAN TEENAGE MUMMY MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE. Which reminds me of an even more bizzare real title: THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 11:52 pm

Phffft (1954)

When I have to check IMdB to see how to spell a title I can't pronounce in the first place, it's not a good title. But it is a fun movie.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostWed Jun 07, 2017 8:30 pm

Morgan Freeman was over here recently in the UK promoting a new movie with Michael Caine, and they both appeared together on "The Graham Norton Show".

Norton got Freeman onto the topic of "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), and Freeman revealed that surprisingly it was a financial failure upon its first theatrical release in 1994. [It only began to make money a year later when it was released on VHS tape].

The reason Freeman gave for such an excellent film being so disappointing at the box-office upon its first theatrical release was purely down to its unwieldy title. He said that there was practically zero "word-of-mouth" promotion of the film, because the public at large simply could not pronounce the title, and/or, could not even remember the confusing title in those pre-internet / pre-social media days. (So for example; they were saying to their friends "Hey you've gotta go see "The Shimsham Reduction", or was it the "Lambshank Reversion")

The audience were in stitches over this story that Freeman related! But I bet it wasn't funny at the time for Warner Bros.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostWed Jun 07, 2017 8:36 pm

There is also THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, which is misleading in that this sequel to THE CAT PEOPLE is really more of a psychological fantasy than a horror movie.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostThu Jun 08, 2017 7:06 am

David Alp wrote:Norton got Freeman onto the topic of "The Shawshank Redemption" ...The reason Freeman gave for such an excellent film being so disappointing at the box-office upon its first theatrical release was purely down to its unwieldy title.


Sheesh, some folks must be a little lazy.

The truism, "don't judge a book by its cover" is still as valid as it has been for ages.

("Hey, Aristophanes honey - what's up with this 'Lysistrata' tongue-twister stuff? Wouldn't 'The Ladies Stop Putting Out' sell more tickets?")
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSun Jun 18, 2017 2:55 pm

"Duck, You Sucker", to me more of a great film than a good film but I think Sergio and or producers didn't think much of the title either although the alternative title "A Fistful of Dynamite" isn't that much better as it harks back to 1964's "A Fist Full of Dollars".
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostSun Jun 18, 2017 5:04 pm

Scott Eckhardt wrote:There is also THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, which is misleading in that this sequel to THE CAT PEOPLE is really more of a psychological fantasy than a horror movie.


I thought that about the original CAT PEOPLE. How about THE BLOB? Sounds fascinating. And MAD MAX. Was he angry mad or insane mad? Turns out to be a little of both.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 10:36 am

I guess it's not a "bad" title per se, but this thread got me thinking back to when I was a very innocent lad of 13 and eager to watch some more Marlon Brando-films, and I asked at my local video store what titles they had for rent... Having not been given a chance to even see a cover, I thought LAST TANGO IN PARIS sounded promising; a nice romantic comedy or something, I reckoned. Needless to say, that night I lost my "mental innocence" (and a good amount of sleep for the next few days)... I still wonder what the heck the guy behind the counter at the video store was thinking.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 11:12 am

Smari1989 wrote:I guess it's not a "bad" title per se, but this thread got me thinking back to when I was a very innocent lad of 13 and eager to watch some more Marlon Brando-films, and I asked at my local video store what titles they had for rent... Having not been given a chance to even see a cover, I thought LAST TANGO IN PARIS sounded promising; a nice romantic comedy or something, I reckoned. Needless to say, that night I lost my "mental innocence" (and a good amount of sleep for the next few days)... I still wonder what the heck the guy behind the counter at the video store was thinking.


He must have thought you were wise beyond your years. Be flattered, my friend.

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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 11:54 am

There are a couple of movies I've seen with terrible titles
The 1946 PRC release "I Ring Doorbells" with Anne Gwyne,Robert Shayne & Roscoe Karns and the 19030 Paramount release "Only Saps Work" with Leon Errol,Richard Arlen & Mary Brian. I must admit though that I don't remember if they were any good.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 12:34 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Smari1989 wrote:I guess it's not a "bad" title per se, but this thread got me thinking back to when I was a very innocent lad of 13 and eager to watch some more Marlon Brando-films, and I asked at my local video store what titles they had for rent... Having not been given a chance to even see a cover, I thought LAST TANGO IN PARIS sounded promising; a nice romantic comedy or something, I reckoned. Needless to say, that night I lost my "mental innocence" (and a good amount of sleep for the next few days)... I still wonder what the heck the guy behind the counter at the video store was thinking.


He must have thought you were wise beyond your years. Be flattered, my friend.

Jim


Well, yes, I guess that's the best interpretation!
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 2:30 pm

When I first saw SUNSET BOULEVARD back in 1972 or 1973 I was expecting a musical! Silly me. Had a similar experience with Henry King's superb WAIT 'TIL THE SUN SHINES NELLIE (1952), where the title was cleverer than one thought.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 2:32 pm

For a good example of someone who couldn't work out a film's subject by its title, I recall suggesting YOUNG MR LINCOLN to my local film society committee. One fellow (ex-CID!) said something on the lines of "What's that about?"...
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 4:19 pm

How about titles that needed to be changed when exported to other countries. One that comes to mind is
Hallelujah I'm a Bum which became Hallelujah I'm a Tramp when shown in the UK (for obvious reasons!)
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 5:44 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:I recall suggesting YOUNG MR LINCOLN to my local film society committee. One fellow (ex-CID!) said something on the lines of "What's that about?"...


(I wonder if he knew who was buried in Grant's Tomb?)
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 9:01 pm

ajabrams wrote:How about titles that needed to be changed when exported to other countries. One that comes to mind is
Hallelujah I'm a Bum which became Hallelujah I'm a Tramp when shown in the UK (for obvious reasons!)


I've read that the UK prints of this movie were actually re-dubbed, so that when Jolson sings the title tune the word "Tramp" is spliced into his song for "Bum," every time it comes up -- sung by someone else, however. I haven't seen such a print, but it must be very strange.
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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 9:26 pm

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:
ajabrams wrote:How about titles that needed to be changed when exported to other countries. One that comes to mind is
Hallelujah I'm a Bum which became Hallelujah I'm a Tramp when shown in the UK (for obvious reasons!)


I've read that the UK prints of this movie were actually re-dubbed, so that when Jolson sings the title tune the word "Tramp" is spliced into his song for "Bum," every time it comes up -- sung by someone else, however. I haven't seen such a print, but it must be very strange.


First time i saw this film it was the British print and they did indeed say Tramp instead of Bum. It was decades ago and i don't remember if it sounded spliced or not.

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Re: Good Films with Bad Titles?

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 10:36 pm

It was also released as Hallelujah, I'm A Tramp in Australia. I was curious about the film's reception as it was highly influential upon a locally made film, Strike Me Lucky (1934). It appears it was only the title that was altered and the songs and dialogue remained unchanged, especially as the song Hallelujah, I'm a Bum was already a standard. There were even some passing references in the Australian media to the anomaly of the film having one name but the song another.
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