The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

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Dave Pitts
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The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Dave Pitts » Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:05 pm

I decided to watch The Women a few days back, with the English subtitles on. Specifically, I wondered how the subtitles kept up with Rosalind Russell's hyperdrive delivery. And they didn't! When Sylvia (our Roz) is on a tirade, the subtitles omit maybe a third of what she actually says. I imagine that otherwise the entire screen would fill up with text. At one point she says something like, 'You know how those creatures are, they never stop talking, it's always babble-babble-babble' and the subtitles omit the babble-babble-babble part. I sat up when Rosalind gets to the line about what kind of person Crystal Allen is. Phyllis Povah asks, 'But who is it? Is it someone we know?' and Russell answers that '..she sells perfume at Blacks. She's a beezle!' That's a line that's stumped me for years, and for years, I thought Roz was pronouncing it bay-zul. The subtitles spell it as beezle. Okay, so what's a beezle? I've googled this, and gotten almost nowhere. Urban Dictionary gives two modern slang uses for beezle, which plainly don't explain it. (One is to indulge in something for mindless pleasure, and the other is a pervert.) In another Google search, I ran into a Women fan asking what I'm asking here, and another user claimed that beezle was a word coined by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin, the screenwriters, because they couldn't say whore or bitch (not outside of a kennel, you realize.)
Does anyone know if this answer is correct? If it is correct, it's pretty odd to make up a slang word that Russell's character simply throws out and that her friend understands. However, since Google doesn't seem to have anything on a 30s slang use of beezle, maybe that's actually the story. I'll be a son of a sea cook if it is.

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boblipton
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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:32 pm

In Sullivan’s Travels, it’s slang for a catamite.

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:07 pm

boblipton wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:32 pm
In Sullivan’s Travels, it’s slang for a catamite.
Distantly related to a gunsel?
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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Brooksie » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:32 pm

Possibly a play on "Beelzebub" ?

EDIT: Your answer is in this article, which appears to confirm the story about the term being created for the film. God bless online newspaper archives.

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Scott Eckhardt » Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:08 pm

That term has also puzzled me from the first time I saw THE WOMEN. I thought I must have a lousy vocabulary when the same term was uttered in the 1956 remake, THE OPPOSITE SEX. I pictured the spelling as being "beasel," and figured it must be some other version of " tramp, " possibly of foreign origin.

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by busby1959 » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:29 am

A beasel means a woman who has moved beyond flirting and being coy...in other words, she's game for anything, as Crystle Allen certainly was. It was a popular slang term of the 1920s and 1930s and was definitely not created solely for the movie. It was around well before THE WOMEN came into being. It would not be unlike not unlike "ho" or "hoochie mama" today. Subsequently, a beasel hound would be a man who chases after such women...like Steven Haines.

Dave Pitts
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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Dave Pitts » Tue Nov 27, 2018 6:44 pm

I think you're on to something. When spelled beasel, it's in Urban Dictionary as 'something like a flapper, only more advanced.' No provenance given, though. Have you seen beasel in vintage novels or heard it in pre-Women films? (I used the spelling beezle in my OP because that's how the subtitles phoneticized it.)

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:55 pm

Here's a 1922 reference from the Springfield, IL newspaper:

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by djwein » Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:37 pm

The word beezle (or at least the meaning it conveyed) WAS created for the film, since censors wouldn't let the ladies say "bitch."

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boblipton
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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:44 am

The word you're looking for is "substituted", not "invented". Rick has verified its ecxistence at least as early as 1922.

I expect your speculation about the reasons for its use are correct. Some one would have to check the play to confirm.

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Dave Pitts » Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:58 am

Wow -- I think Rick's post settled the issue! BTW, I found the entire excerpt to be a hoot -- especially Brooksey Boy and Brush Ape!! Where/how can I see the entire article?

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:16 am

Dave Pitts wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:58 am
Wow -- I think Rick's post settled the issue! BTW, I found the entire excerpt to be a hoot -- especially Brooksey Boy and Brush Ape!! Where/how can I see the entire article?
As luck would have it, I just googled "Flapper Dictionary" to find the continuation of the one above (turns out there are more than one) and found it here.
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Rick Lanham
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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:41 am

I'm glad that s.w.a.c. found the entire "Flapper Dictionary."
The newspaper I looked at only had part of it, and no indication where/when the rest would be found.

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Brooksie » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:45 pm

It is of course possible that Loos happened to coin a similar word for a similar purpose, or vaguely recalled it from earlier days. Lawsuits have been based and won on slimmer evidence - http://ultimateclassicrock.com/george-h ... lagiarism/.

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Lamar » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:55 pm

Dave Pitts wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 6:44 pm
I think you're on to something. When spelled beasel, it's in Urban Dictionary as 'something like a flapper, only more advanced.' No provenance given, though. Have you seen beasel in vintage novels or heard it in pre-Women films? (I used the spelling beezle in my OP because that's how the subtitles phoneticized it.)
It's spelled beezle in the published screenplay in Twenty Best Film Plays, edited by John Gassner & Dudley Nichols, Crown Publishers, NY, Copyright 1943. The other screenplays are IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT; MY MAN GODFREY; HERE COMES MR. JORDAN; REBECCA; WUTHERING HEIGHTS; THE GRAPES OF WRATH; HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY; MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW; LITTLE CAESAR; FURY; MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON; THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA; JUAREZ; MRS. MINIVER; THIS LAND IS MINE; THE GOOD EARTH; ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY; STAGECOACH; YELLOW JACK; THE FIGHT FOR LIFE.
I got my copy when my high school had a book sale.

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:23 pm

Lamar wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:55 pm
Dave Pitts wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 6:44 pm
I think you're on to something. When spelled beasel, it's in Urban Dictionary as 'something like a flapper, only more advanced.' No provenance given, though. Have you seen beasel in vintage novels or heard it in pre-Women films? (I used the spelling beezle in my OP because that's how the subtitles phoneticized it.)
It's spelled beezle in the published screenplay in Twenty Best Film Plays, edited by John Gassner & Dudley Nichols, Crown Publishers, NY, Copyright 1943. The other screenplays are IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT; MY MAN GODFREY; HERE COMES MR. JORDAN; REBECCA; WUTHERING HEIGHTS; THE GRAPES OF WRATH; HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY; MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW; LITTLE CAESAR; FURY; MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON; THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA; JUAREZ; MRS. MINIVER; THIS LAND IS MINE; THE GOOD EARTH; ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY; STAGECOACH; YELLOW JACK; THE FIGHT FOR LIFE.
I got my copy when my high school had a book sale.
Some nice research on this. Does anyone have a copyof the Samuel French edition of the play?

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George O'Brien
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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by George O'Brien » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:29 pm

I have a copy of the Samuel French edition somewhere, and I recall it being spelt, beezle.

I was also confounded by another rapidly spoken Roz line about something being," a blahblahblah wisecrack". It wasn't until I read the text that it became clear. She says "A Nancy Blake wisecrack", a reference to another woman in the play, the writer self described as a "frozen asset".
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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:00 am

George O'Brien wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:29 pm
I have a copy of the Samuel French edition somewhere, and I recall it being spelt, beezle.

I was also confounded by another rapidly spoken Roz line about something being," a blahblahblah wisecrack". It wasn't until I read the text that it became clear. She says "A Nancy Blake wisecrack", a reference to another woman in the play, the writer self described as a "frozen asset".
Curiously, beezle appears to been added to the revised script, as noted above. In the original script, the word appears to have been "floozie," which would not have been permitted on-screen in 1939. "Beezle" sounds like a haughtier put-down, so it makes more sense for Sylvia to use the term.

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:03 pm

Rick Lanham wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:55 pm
Here's a 1922 reference from the Springfield, IL newspaper:

Image
Oh, dear! My neighbours have just adopted a cat called 'Biscuit'. What will they think??

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Jim Roots
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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:11 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:03 pm
Rick Lanham wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:55 pm
Here's a 1922 reference from the Springfield, IL newspaper:

Image
Oh, dear! My neighbours have just adopted a cat called 'Biscuit'. What will they think??
Those apple knockers had better blow the joint, toot sweet.

Jim the Hepcat

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Re: The Women (1939): What's a beezle????

Unread post by wich2 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:37 pm

Reet, petite, and gone!

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