Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Real Movie Magic

Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner

Last week I watched a double feature of the 1932 and 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Netflix. The 1932 version has Fredric March in the title role, with Spencer Tracy in the same role in the 1941 version. The two films have the same plot (1941 executing its better), both differing from the original tale by adding a love rectangle with Dr. Jekyll and his fiancee, Mr. Hyde and his barmaid, and the barmaid and Dr. Jekyll.

1941 has the three actors from the top and they all share the screen only once, that I can recall. But do I ever enjoy recalling that moment. It takes place when Jekyll first tries his potion. After taking it, there is a dreamlike sequence of various images--waves, explosions, shots of his fiancee (Lana Turner) and the barmaid (Ingrid Bergman), then there's a shot of him whipping two horses, one white and one brown. It cuts to him again and when it cuts back to the "horses" it is the two women being whipped, presumably naked. I was quite taken by the scene, from surprise, and the willingess of the actors to partake.

In other news, my latest trip through the dictionary to find out why fritz is used in the phrase "on the fritz" to mean something isn't working (no explanation in the OED) surfaced the word frisesomorum, a mnemonic (I first typed pneum-) device used by those in Logic for a first-figure syllogism using i, e, and o to represent two minor positives and a major negative, or something along those lines.

A subsequent search for the history of cretin (Latin Christian) turned up another Logic mnemonic, darapti. My frustration is that I have the definition of these words, but no examples.

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At November 12, 2008 6:19 PM, Blogger Wishydig said...

the sources to go to for such questions as the fritz mystery:
ben zimmer
jesse sheidlower
michael quinion
grant barrett
and the ADS-L archives.

a full string search plus those names brings up nothing satisfying. michael quinion probably has the best write-up on the following theories

some say that it could be echoic -- as the sound of a fuse blowing -- but the early occurrences aren't at all related to electric products. john ciardi liked the story. quinion rejects it.

another suggestion is a reference to the troublemaking katzenjammer kids: hans and fritz. maybe. but there's no good linking evidence.

another idea is the connection to german soldiers during wwii. but the phrase was around before that usage of 'fritz' came around. so not likely.

i think this one is so well hidden that the detectives aren't even talking about it anymore. it's a case gone ice cold.

At November 13, 2008 4:43 PM, Blogger CëRïSë said...

I don't know about you, but now I have "Puttin' on the Ritz" in my head.

At November 14, 2008 12:01 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Thanks, Michael. Part of the problem is that I'm computerless at home, but without the luxury of time and desk space for my etymological interests at work. So I have to write my queries down in my little notebook and then search during my lunch hour.

Ceri, my favorite version of Puttin' on the Ritz is from Young Frankenstein.


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