Nina of 1940s-50s films / TUE 5-15-12 / Vine-covered passageway / Harry who co-founded Columbia Pictures / Old Saturn model
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Constructor: Susan Gelfand
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: FULL OF HOLES (53A: Like 17-, 23-, 33- and 48-Across) — theme answers are things that are.
Word of the Day: Nina FOCH (45D: Nina of 1940s-'50s films) —
Nina Foch (April 20, 1924 – December 5, 2008) was a Dutch-born American actress and leading lady in many 1940s and 1950s films. [...] Foch's movie career came during the height of the 1940s, when she played cool, aloof, and oftentimes foreign women of sophistication. She would ultimately be featured in over 80 films and hundreds of television shows. The actress was a regular in John Houseman's CBS Playhouse 90television series. In 1951, she appeared with Gene Kelly in the musical An American in Paris, which was awarded the Best Picture Oscar. Foch appeared in Scaramouche (1952) as Marie Antoinette, and in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956) as Bithia, Pharaoh's sister who finds the baby Moses in the bullrushes, adopts him as her son, and joins him and the Hebrews in their Exodus from Egypt.
Foch received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the boardroom drama Executive Suite (1954), starringWilliam Holden. In Spartacus (1960), starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier, she played a woman who chooses gladiators to fight to the death in the ring, simply for her entertainment. In 1963, she appeared as herself in the National Broadcasting Company game show Your First Impression. In 1964, she played the title role of the episode "Maggie, Queen of the Jungle" of Craig Stevens's CBS drama Mr. Broadway. (wikipedia)
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Didn't care for this one. Very lackluster fill for a 78-worder (which is the maximum word count—such grids are generally the easiest to fill). EOCENE (15A: Epoch when mammals arose) is a fine word if you are in a bind and have a dense theme, or if you need to make an otherwise sparkly themeless work out, but in a 78-worder it's lazy / borderline inexcusable. This goes double, triple, and quadruple for FOCH. What the FOCH? At the very least, you could've gone with SOPH. MOTH or MOSH would've worked too, as the MLA (Modern Language Association) is a major academic org. with its own style guide and everything. FOCH is something you accept only after all your other options have run out. You notice I'm not saying "FOCH and EOCENE should never be in a grid." I'm saying, "these should not be in a grid if they aren't necessary." Also, the clue for FOCH was clearly written after one glance at the wikipedia page. Please note that Ms. FOCH acted in films in not just the '40s and '50s, but Every Decade After That. Further, UNSHADE (1D: Expose to light) is barely a word. Ditto REMOP (52A: Swab the floor again). We can do better than this! No point working Xs and Js and Zs into the grid when the fill's not rock solid. Lipstick on a possum.
- 17A: Monte Cristo ingredient (SWISS CHEESE)
- 23A: Spelling aid? (VOODOO DOLL)
- 33A: Pub hub? (DART BOARD)
- 48A: Where people are always putting things? (GOLF COURSE)
- 1A: "Kinsman" of Tarzan (APE) — quotation marks threw me, as I thought it was an actual quotation (i.e. someone with the name "Kinsman," or someone Tarzan literally called "kinsman"), but they're just scare quotes indicating ersatziness.
- 21A: Old Saturn model (ION) — the official car of IOS (57A: Aegean island on which Homer is said to be buried).
- 8D: Harry who co-founded Columbia Pictures (COHN) — No idea. None. All crosses. There's a lot of older fill here today. Yes there is. O MY! Not EOCENE old. Just old. Could use balance.
- 64A: Car that "really drives 'em wi-i-ild," in a 1960s song (GTO) — I could not tell what kind of sound that "i" was making in "wi-i-ild" — it's a pretty good approximation of the way the verse actually sounds. Well, "Wiiiii-yi-yild" may be closer, but that's gibberish.