1925 Percy Marmont film / SUN 2-23-14 / 1932 Clark Gable Jean Harlow film / Sitcom with 1974 wedding / Snow queen in Disney's Frozen / 1980s-90s series based on fictional firm mckenzie brackman chaney Kuzak / New Haven reuner

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Constructor: Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Reel-life Anniversary" — tribute to constructor's namesake, director VICTOR FLEMING (119A: Director of the eight starred films in this puzzle, who was born on 2/23/1889). Grid has a bunch of his movies in it.

Theme answers:
  • "RED DUST" (5D: *1932 Clark Gable/Jean Harlow film)
  • "THE WIZARD OF OZ" (24A: *1939 Judy Garland film)
  • "A GUY NAMED JOE" (54A: *1943 Spencer Tracy/Irene Dunne film)
  • "BOMBSHELL" (37A: *1933 Jean Harlow film)
  • "GONE WITH THE WIND" (68A: *1939 Vivien Leigh/Clark Gable film)
  • "TORTILLA FLAT" (89A: *1942 Spencer Tracy/Hedy Lamarr film)
  • "JOAN OF ARC" (103A: *1948 Ingrid Bergman film)
  • "LORD JIM" (98D: *1925 Percy Marmont film)
Word of the Day: PETREL (8D: Migratory seabird)
Any of numerous black, gray, or white sea birds of the order Procellariiformes.

[Perhaps alteration of earlier pitteral (perhaps influenced by Saint PETER walking on the water, from the fact that the bird flies so close to the water as to appear to be walking on it).]

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/petrel#ixzz2u6biP0vn
• • •

I have a hard time imagining this being accepted if the constructor weren't a longtime NYT crossword writer. No way a newbie gets a puzzle like this published ("Hi, my name's Milos Forman, and I want to write a puzzle about the director of the same name, with his name and a bunch of his movies in it, in honor of his upcoming 83rd birthday … hello? Hello?"). It's just too straightforward, too arbitrary. The only charm it has is the winky constructor credit ("A Namesake of 119-Across"). Otherwise, it's just a guy born 125 years ago (that's a thing we're commemorating now?), and a bunch of films he directed, and The End. No gimmick. No twist. No nothing. "Here are some movie titles … that's all." I don't get it. The one thing I am grateful to this puzzle for is teaching me who the hell this guy is. So weird that I've never even heard of the director of two of the most famous movies ever made, but there you go—I couldn't have named the director of "GONE WITH THE WIND" *or* "THE WIZARD OF OZ" before today. So, for the trivia, I am thankful. For the puzzle, much, much less so. To the constructor's credit, he at least seems aware that the whole endeavor is pretty SOLIPSISTic (60A: Self-absorbed sort).

The puzzle is by no means bad. It's incredibly adequate. I didn't wince much, if at all, that I can remember. So the fill is solid—maybe even better than average for the NYT. I did not know that a swashbuckler "strutted" (65D: Swashbuckles, say => STRUTS). That is interesting. I thought the only mandatory criterion was swordsmanship, but apparently there is a fancy, confident walk that goes with it. Awesome. Nice contemporary clue on ELSA, which is a sentence I don't think I've ever written (102A: Snow queen in Disney's "Frozen"). Thought clue on STUDENT ID was very clever (83D: Means of access to a cafeteria, maybe). STUDENT ID is much better than my initial answer: STUDY HALL (?). Really wish POP OUT had gotten a baseball clue. Other than that, I have no real strong feelings or remarkable things to say about the fill in this grid. It's fine.

Puzzle of the Week this week was pretty tough. I was all set to give it to last Sunday's Washington Post Puzzler, a lovely themeless by Trip Payne (2/16). But then Patrick Berry's Friday NYT themeless (2/21) came along and suddenly made this decision really hard. OMG, I haven't even done today's Newsday Stumper (2/22), and it's a Doug Peterson! Hang on … oh, man, that's good too. But looking at them all alongside one another, I just can't deny the Berry. Too smooth, too strong.

Reminder for upstate NY'ers / Northern PA'ers: This Saturday, Mar. 1, is the Finger Lakes Crossword Competition in Ithaca, NY (to benefit the literacy programs of Tompkins Learning Partners). Enter as an individual or bring a team of 4 (!). Registration form here. I'll be there in some semi-official capacity.  Registration info here.

Good day.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Unknown 12:03 AM  

    2:15 one google after 2 hours. TORTILLAFLAT, then when I placed my best guesses in the half dozen white spaces and submitted, and had 7 errors:
    AGUYNAMEDJaE/CaST (JOE was too obvious, and I wasn't sure if COST is a 'basis' in accounting but rather a method. My accountant uses 'basis' to describe equity, not the accounting 'method' which is cost or cash. The clue may have been in error.
    INdiA[red], dope-slap on INFRA
    VICTORdemMING, best guess. Who knew?
    mbA for EPA, both monitor green
    enD for LID, after having rejected LID twice
    inbOSTE for RIPOSTE, because that's how it fell out and I was getting tired and a bit bored.
    If I'd googled for Victor Fleming, would the related errors have evaporated? Probably. The guy would have been JOE, too. And I'd have been done in a little over an hour. As it was, I just didn't have the prescience to see the missing crosses so the proper names were inaccessible, so this one was truly an impossible solve for my limited movie knowledge. Oh well.

    Easy puzzle, otherwise. STUDENTID held me up for an hour. CARSTEREO was NAPSTERER on and off for over an hour before the the TORTILLAFLAT google settled it and OFOLD, which is just bad fill, poorly clued. Everything else fell quickly and quietly.

    retired_chemist 12:17 AM  

    Easy. Enjoyed getting the old movie names and. like Rex, I wouldn't have even known who that VICTOR FLEMING was. So that too was fun.

    SOLIPSIST was preceded by egomanIac, which was ruled out by MIX IN. 70D was WREcKED, which was easily fixed.

    All the fill was solid but straightforward. Played like a big Tuesday or Wednesday for me.

    Thanks, Mr. Fleming.

    Garth 12:21 AM  
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    Garth 12:22 AM  
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    Garth 12:28 AM  

    Pleasant puzzle. It reminds me of NYT puzzles from an earlier era. And I enjoy puzzles that represent a variety of styles from old-fashioned to more cutting-edge.

    As to Rex's comment: "No way a newbie gets a puzzle like this published:" Another possibility: Perhaps Mr. Shortz and others appreciate the virtues of this puzzle more than Rex. Or stated another way, perhaps they just have a different aesthetic sensibility than Rex.

    Thanks Mr Fleming for your puzzle and your great movies. You're a true renaissance man.

    Pete 12:30 AM  

    I wish POP OUT had gotten a boob clue.

    jae 12:31 AM  

    Yep, easy and a very smooth very pleasant learning experience. I too had no idea about the director. Nicely done, liked it, and @Rex SOLIPSIST was a nice touch.

    paulsfo 12:56 AM  

    I have to agree with Rex that this puzzle generated a big "meh." I have a personal system for marking clues or answers as especially clever or especially bad. Today I marked exactly none. :)

    I, too, was shocked that the director's name wasn't at all familiar.

    Opal blue : "a grayish blue that is redder and paler than electric, greener and paler than copenhagen, and redder and lighter than Gobelin."

    Who knew?

    chefwen 1:45 AM  

    Easy/Medium for me. Knew most of the movies except for RED DUST and A GUY NAMED JOE. Filled in with crosses.

    SOLIPSIST was a brand new word for me. I could name a few friends that would be a suitable moniker for them. Had to Google it after the fact.

    Jon and I live on the biggest red dirt area on this here rock. If you want to hear about RED DUST, just ask me, I'll tell you more than you would ever want to know. Our black and white tuxedo kitty is now black and red.

    Liked it Judge Victor, keep 'em coming.

    Moly Shu 1:49 AM  

    Played easy for me. Didn't know solipsist, but was gettable from the crosses. All the movies were made before I was born, but somehow, I knew them all. Meh sums it up for me too

    @pete. Me too

    Ellen S 3:00 AM  

    I liked all the puzzles this week, so there! Just haven't had time to come here. Nice job yesterday, @evan.

    Glad there were no boob clues.

    Transudes is a great word, sounds just like what it means.

    John Child 4:30 AM  

    I think "a bunch of movies" does make a theme when

    a) They are all directed by the same guy,
    b) They are (almost) all famous, and
    c) It's prepared for and published on his birthday.

    That the constructor and director share a name is a lovely fillip.

    I also liked the the improbable letter sequences that showed up before the full answers in places, like THTH in the center answer and MBSH in BOMBSHELL.

    Little dreck other than TAROTS and THORO. I sympathize with @casco on OF OLD, but I've seen it enough that I just plunked it in.

    In days of old when Knights were bold
    and honour was the fashion
    there was a maid a fine young maid
    whose heart was full of passion.

    See http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=444669 for ribald variants.

    Evan 5:45 AM  

    As I posted over at Amy's blog, I have to apologize for inadvertently giving away the answer to 119-Across a day early. My notes over at Wordplay and Xwordinfo said that today's puzzle would be by Victor Fleming, though I had no idea that his name would be an answer. It's a cute idea too, withholding the byline and letting solvers figure it out, and of course I'm with others in not previously knowing who directed those two mega-famous movies.

    So if you read those notes and remembered that bit while solving this puzzle, my fault. Judge Vic's a good guy, though, since he wrote a nice letter to me and said he was flattered by my notes, and didn't seem to mind my mentioning him by name. Smooth puzzle by him, too. Loved seeing the answer and clue for SOLIPSIST, a word I learned a long time ago but can never remember how to spell it.

    (Again, thanks much for everyone's comments yesterday.)

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:39 AM  

    Hi, my name is David Steinberg . . . No, wait, that's already been done.

    If Victor Fleming had only directed GONE WITH THE WIND and THE WIZARD OF OZ, his place in history would be secure.

    Only two questions: OPAL-blue, huh? (thanks for the definition, @paulsfo); and, anybody, please, re 120 D, How is "Lash holder" a LID?

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:49 AM  

    P.S. - Had meant to mention, for the sake of all our resident nit pickers (a group of which I am sometimes a member), yes, I know that directorial credits for GWTW are rather more complicated than for the typical film. But Fleming was the credited director.

    Bob Kerfuffle 7:03 AM  

    Sorry, cancel my question. Just occurred to me: An eyelash grows out of an eyeLID. Why do I have to type out and publish a question before the answer comes to me?

    The Bard 7:17 AM  

    The Tempest , Act II, scene I

    ANTONIO: Then, tell me,
    Who's the next heir of Naples?

    SEBASTIAN: Claribel.

    ANTONIO: She that is queen of Tunis; she that dwells
    Ten leagues beyond man's life; she that from Naples
    Can have no note, unless the sun were post--
    The man i' the moon's too slow--till new-born chins
    Be rough and razorable; she that--from whom?
    We all were sea-swallow'd, though some cast again,
    And by that destiny to perform an act
    Whereof what's past is prologue, what to come
    In yours and my discharge.

    Romeo and Juliet , Act III, scene V

    LADY CAPULET: We will have vengeance for it, fear thou not:
    Then weep no more. I'll send to one in Mantua,
    Where that same banish'd runagate doth live,
    Shall give him such an unaccustom'd dram,
    That he shall soon keep Tybalt company:
    And then, I hope, thou wilt be satisfied.

    JULIET: Indeed, I never shall be satisfied
    With Romeo, till I behold him--dead--
    Is my poor heart for a kinsman vex'd.
    Madam, if you could find out but a man
    To bear a poison, I would temper it;
    That Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,
    Soon sleep in quiet. O, how my heart abhors
    To hear him named, and cannot come to him.
    To wreak the love I bore my cousin
    Upon his body that slaughter'd him!

    AT 7:29 AM  

    Just casting a vote: Loved it.

    Mohair Sam 7:44 AM  

    Hand up with the "I can't believe I know the crossword guy's name and not the mega-director" crowd.

    Played very easy for us as it apparently did for most folks. Almost naticked on ERTE/PETREL, but wife pulled the "R" out of the air to save us. Otherwise unusually easy, maybe Fleming/Shortz were concerned that some of movie titles may have been too obscure for solvers under 60 or so?

    Hey, Steinberg is close enough to Steinbeck for government work - Steinbeck's birthday is Thursday, maybe David could do a puzzle (most of Steinbeck's titles are under 15 letters). Tell him TORTILLAFLAT has been used.

    chefbea 7:59 AM  

    Easy puzzle. I too did not know a few of the fims but got them from the crosses. Had ARE for 41 across cuz gator ends in an R. and never heard of solipsist.
    Had the FT for 104 down and figured the answer would be Fort -something.
    Thanks Victor Flemming for the puzzle (both of you)

    Glimmerglass 8:23 AM  

    If the only thing wrong with this puzzle is that the theme doesn't sizzle, it's a pretty darn good puzzle. I also didn't know the name of the director of two of the most popular movies OF ALL TIME, both in the SAME YEAR. That alone makes the theme at least interesting. I think this puzzle would have been accepted if the constrictor had been Joe Schmo. Some people just have to build themselves up by putting someone else down. I didn't think it was all that easy; the obscure film titles required some educated guesses.

    AliasZ 8:33 AM  

    @Rex, can you imagine life without movies? If you were the NYT puzzle editor, we would have nothing to talk about today, except perhaps eyepits, pewits and Natick, MA.

    VICTOR FLEMING is a household name among movie watchers -- nearly 100% of the earth's population -- who paid attention to opening credits for the past century. And if it isn't, it should be. The likes of D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, Jean Renoir, John Ford, Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, VICTOR FLEMING, etc. created a new art form more popular entertainment than crossword puzzles, and just a bit older. Not being aware doesn't make it a boring theme, except to those who were not aware. The good thing is, all this information is within everyone's easy reach nowadays. Yet another thing that some of us wouldn't have learned if it weren't for crossword puzzles.

    I for one am grateful to Will Shortz to have accepted Judge Vic's fine puzzle. I only wish he could've included some of his namesake's other famous movies, as he says at xwordinfo: Treasure Island, Captains Courageous, and Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. What I was made aware of today was that he also directed the original version of Joseph Conrad's LORD JIM back in 1925. I only knew of Peter O'Toole's 1965 version, directed by Richard Brooks.

    I was also reminded that I knew the word SOLIPSIST but had forgotten I did. I loved the quote from The TEMPEST, transudes, SHEEPDOG and SCOTTIES, TRA LALAW, BIDDER and PASSERS, the swashbuckler who SMUGly STRUTS his stuff without a STUDENT ID, and the OAHU-born ONE-NOTE DON HO.

    Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) wrote The TEMPEST, Op. 109, incidental music to Shakespeare's play, in 1925-26. It is considered by many to be one of his greatest achievements. I selected the opening 15 minutes, but I strongly urge you to listen to the whole piece. YouTube has it available as the complete 1-hour work, as well as in act-by-act sections. In my selection above, after the stormy overture comes some of the most ravishingly beautiful music (at the 5:30 mark) ever created by this composer.


    Unknown 8:33 AM  

    I fall more in the Rex camp on this one. I, too, was surprised that I couldn't name the director of those two movies. But when all was said and done, it felt like this puzzle was probably a lot more fun for the constructor than for this solver. Oh, well.

    Loren Muse Smith 8:34 AM  

    Well, heck. This was a long time coming, in my opinion. A few years ago, Facebook kept telling me I should friend request Judge Vic. I'm ever obedient (most of the time – I won't pester Michael or Will), so I did, and he accepted. I said, certainly for the gazillionth time for him, that he should do a Gone With the Wind tribute puzzle – kinda like when I passed the local weather man at a bar and quipped, "How's the weather?" GGGGGG. How many time has someone said this to him?

    @Bob – I purposely did not check any facts on this yet – all from what I read back when I was as obsessed with GWTW as I am now with puzzles. I think I've read since that half of these are not true.

    1. While vacationing on a yacht, Bette Davis was offered the role of Scarlett and responded, "I think it's a pip."
    2. George Cukor was the initial director, famous for being a ladies' director, and Gable went to the set of The Wizard of Oz (it was finishing up) and pleaded with Fleming to direct him in GWTW.
    3. By the end of the filming of GWTW, there were several directors filming several scenes at the same time.
    4. Gable didn't want the part because he didn't think he could cry on camera.
    5. Howard didn't want to be Ashley because he thought he was too old.
    6. On the day that Leigh was announced as the lead, the same day that Edward abdicated so he could marry Simpson, some papers chose to run the Scarlett headline as the lead story.
    7. The Munchkinville actors were wild party animals, ransacked the hotel where they stayed, and generally wreaked havoc anywhere they could.

    And get this – Margaret Mitchell's dad's name was Eugene Muse Mitchell. My dad is Oren Eugene Muse. So we're related. My Aunt Maryon of The Ouija Board would surely agree.

    The puzzle –

    I, too, am surprised at the people who've never heard of this director. He's one of the three directors whose name I actually know.

    My Babe was even more ambitious and was aiming to become a "shepherd." And change his name to NEIL LAJOLLA so the sheep would take him seriously.

    The apples on our trees are good but look weird. Hey – but we don't have to deal with ALAR MIST.

    So is a person doing A JIG called a JIGGER?

    This dog-lover has never managed to form any meaningful connection with a SCOTTIE. The few I've met pretty much kept to themselves and barely acknowledged me. Buncha jerks. *Just kidding!* (on the name calling – serious about their aloofness.)

    I think if you're being SMUG and happen to take a few steps, you would probably STRUT, right?

    Some of these words keep speaking to me: "Hey – FISSURE nametag – it should be on the OPCIT side."

    And @M&A – IN FUN and all that...

    A limerick right here could be crucial
    To show grid builders a word rather useful
    Give me an 8D who mates
    With a bird whose name grates,
    and we have, then, a smart little Pewtrel.

    Judge Vic – great job! It was high time you did this!

    optionsgeek 8:34 AM  

    Don't care for the clue on 44A: "Daily riser" = TIDE. The tide rises *two* times a day, synchronized with the moon's position in the sky. I nearly rejected TIDE because of this glitch.

    Anonymous 8:59 AM  


    The clue doesn't say anything about one time per day, or only one time per day.

    Also there are locations that experience only one high tide and one low tide per day. Look it up.

    jberg 9:04 AM  

    I loved this one. What makes it great is that so many of us had not idea who this director was -- honest to God, I went from end UP to tOP UP and was staring at VICTOR FL_TING and still couldn't guess it until I realized that the green monitor was EPA rather than some kind of lizard. Then I remembered -- not the director, but the constructor. That's enough of an aha! experience for me.

    I'm not sure LUXE = elegant, and a SOLIPSIST is someone who believes that external reality doesn't exist, so 'self-absorbed' is a massive understatement. But those are minor, minor. As I said, I loved it.

    Ludyjynn 9:15 AM  

    George Cukor, Sam Wood and Victor Fleming were all involved at various points in direction of the epic which became GWTW. As @Loren commented, the lore behind the making of the film is as lengthy, complex and entertaining as the final product.

    This was a very nice tribute puzzle for those of us who are film afficianados and for those who are not or who didn't know of Fleming before, now you do.

    Carola 10:28 AM  

    I enjoyed the double tribute and the nifty entries others have mentioned. I was kicking myself for not being able to recall the director of The Wizard of Oz, but when Gone With the Wind went in (righrfully in the center spot, I thought, given how large it LOOMSin my movie-going life), I was able to go to 119A and write in VICTOR FLEMING.

    1939 was a great year for movies. Here are the 10 films that were nominated for best picture: Dark Victory, Gone With the Wind, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Love Affair, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach. The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights. GWTW won the award for best picture and Fleming for director.

    Coincidentally, one of this year's Oscar-nominated shorts revolves around a SOLIPSIST: The Voorman Problem. That might not sound like a very promising premise for a movie, but it's very clever and entertaining.

    chefbea 10:29 AM  

    @Loren love your limerick!!

    JTHurst 10:40 AM  

    Victor Fleming supposedly slapped Judy Garland during the filming of the WIZ of OZ because she could not stop giggling at the Munchkins and who hasn't giggled at the Munchkins - especially those Lollypop Boys. Loved all of those 1930s films before the censors changed us into the Cleavers and the Nelsons.

    I am much happier deciphering film related clues than TV or current pop stars.

    Horace S. Patoot 10:44 AM  

    The clue on ROLF made me want to RALPH. What's the evidence that it's therapeutic? And what are TAROTS? I suppose my blinds are Venetians?

    mac 12:05 PM  

    Easy Sunday, and surprising that there was not punny trick to the theme answers. I do know both Victors, but didn't know the director was as prolific as that.

    I wanted chic at 105A, I think it's better for elegance.

    Solipsist is a word I have read many times in books by Anita Brookner and just lately in one by Julian Barnes, but I have the hardest time retaining the meaning of it.

    AT 12:08 PM  

    Love the last clue/answer of "ARE we done?"

    RnRGhost57 12:12 PM  
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    RnRGhost57 12:14 PM  
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    RnRGhost57 12:15 PM  

    Good Sunday puzzle. Embarrassed to say that, although I'm an American historian who has published work on the Thirties, didn't know Fleming directed both GWTW and TWOOz. Nice to learn something new on a Sunday morn.

    retired_chemist 12:17 PM  

    SOLIPSISM is from Latin: solus (alone) plus ipse (self). That's my mnemonic.

    wreck 12:18 PM  

    I too couldn't be so sure that I knew the name VICTOR FLEMING from the longtime puzzle constructor or film director. I'm sure it was some of both. I also was surprised that Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of OZ were both directed by him in the same year (1939.)

    One of my quickest Sundays ever -- no googles!

    mac 12:19 PM  

    @retired_chemist: thank you, that will work for me!

    OISK 12:20 PM  

    Nice puzzle. I couldn't have named Victor Fleming, but I had heard of him. Two of the movies were unfamiliar as well. Still, it filled in pretty quickly for me; initially I was looking for some "trick" -it couldn't just be movie names could it? As an occasional bird-watcher I have heard of petrels, but have never seen one in the U.S., only during visits to the Galapagos Islands. Didn't know what "Rolf" meant at all. @Horace - Tarots are those cards that fortune tellers use.. Nice week of puzzles.

    Happy Pencil 12:21 PM  

    @Numinous, I took your advice from yesterday and set up a "proper" profile, so I will try to post more often.

    I liked this puzzle but agree it was on the easy side. I'm in the camp who couldn't think of the director's name, to my shame. And I still don't pay enough attention to the names of constructors to be helped there either, but I'm sure that will come in time.

    Having rejected VICTOR Laszlo (another great film there!), I eventually got FLEMMING on my own.

    @cascokid, I greatly prefer your answer for "Green monitor." That was my morning smile.

    Unknown 12:24 PM  

    My crossword buddy here in Portland dropped VICTORFLEMING in off the REDDUST reference in the NW, and dropped in every other movie as well. Was he a Fleming fan? I asked. Not at all, he said, but whoever doesn't know GWTW and WizOz director should be taken off life support. So you see, @Rex is NOT the most arrogant solver in my world! And we can all be taken off life support, now. OK, @Carola, @AliasZ, @Loren you guys get to live. ;)

    In defense of certain wrongness: VICTORdemMING followed VICTORdarlING, which followed VICTORdoerING, which followed rIChaRd______. I grasped at demMING since "Jonathan Demming" is a famous movie director now, so the name resonated. It seems even that one rang false. Except that it's Jonathan Demme, not Demming. Clear evidence that I'm really scraping the gray matter, there.

    INdiA Red is indeed a color, and with 3 of 5 crosses AOK, is a pretty deep rabbit hole. I wasn't going to get INFRA after INdiA. This makes the INdia/VICTORdemMING crossing a true Natick. OK, for just this one solver.

    mathguy 12:26 PM  

    Terrific puzzle and wonderful comments. My mother was a huge Gone With The Wind fan. When I was a kid, she gave me a lunch and put me on a streetcar to see it when it was rereleased in San Francisco. I've seen it a number of times since then. I knew that Victor Fleming directed it but not that he directed the other movies mentioned.

    It was easy but the clues were zippy and my wife and I had fun passing it back and forth. I was also glad to learn what solipsism means after having seen it many times.

    Z 12:53 PM  

    I made a snide comment about a "SOLIPSIST anonymouse" earlier this week. How's that for a delayed malapop (of sorts).

    Per @cascokid sans' friend, take me off life support. Still, a fine Sunday.

    Lawprof 1:03 PM  

    Victor Fleming (the constructor) must be fainting with damn praise. "Incredibly adequate?!" C'mon...this was lots of fun.

    Wasn't familiar with all the movies, and didn't realize that VF directed both GWTW and Wizard of Oz. What a year for him. Should have delayed releasing one of them until 1940, Then he'd have collected twice as many Oscars.

    Pretty quick time,even for a Sunday. Write overs: REDDawn/REDDUST; AmanNAMEDJOE/AGUYNAMEDJOE; STRike/STRUCK; TOpass/TOHEEL.

    On a (somewhat) related note: some of my casual crossword friends (viz. those who do maybe Monday through Wednesday) think I'm really smart because I do the Sunday puzzle. Query: should I let them in on our little secret?

    wreck 1:32 PM  


    Yes, I see that too! It seems everyone thinks Sunday is the toughest just because it is larger and the most famous. On a difficulty scale, I put it at about a Thursday factor.

    Numinous 1:49 PM  

    Great fun for me as a former film student and editor. I love movies, always have and always will. For the life of me, I could'nt recall straight off who directed TWOO or GWTW but remembered after a few crosses. Yeah, I found the puzzle easy but that just meant I got to the theme answers all the faster. One of the very cool things about Victor Fleming was that he cut his teeth on silent films and it shows in his work.
    Third term exercise when I was in film school was to make a 10 minute silent film. The notion was that it's Moving Pictures, not moving dialogue. It was a good grounding.

    I think most everything that needs to be said about this puzzle has been said so:

    @Rex, thanks for the link to Sierra Hill. She's quite a gal. Made her first record at the age of 13. She's still going strong in Bluegrass music. Here is video of her in her early days.

    Braggadocio would characterize a swashbuckler and probably lead him to STRUT. To swash is to make a loud noise. A buckler is a small round shield held in the left hand with a single handle. So, a swashbuckler, initially, was a guy who banged his shield with his sword in order to intimidate you (That's the Korean General Yu of which so much is heard). I'd love to see BRAGGADOCIO, in a crossword some time soon.

    @cascokid, TORTILLA FLAT is also a novel by John Steinbeck. a fact of which every high school english student would be aware. Then, again, maybe not. Do you remember having to read Of Mice and Men? Keep up the good work, you're getting better!

    Thanks VICTOR FLEMINGs for the trip down memory lane.

    Numinous 1:54 PM  

    Oh, yeah . . . Good for you, @Happy Pencil. Welcome to Rexworld. I'll look forward to your commentary.

    Anonymous 2:00 PM  

    Are we supposed to wait until his 200th or 250th birthday before a puzzle on this guy is fair game? I'll be dead by then. In the meantime I am grateful to learn of Victor Fleming through an interesting and fun crossword. If Rex doesn't go on and on these days about how bad the fill is, I guess that counts as a success (?).

    J ferr 2:04 PM  

    Nice relaxing puzzle but several clues could have been a bit trickier, e.g., "ari" begged for "entourage agent" and "flood" could have been "Baseball player who started free agency"

    Steve J 2:04 PM  

    I'm another who didn't know VICTOR FLEMING the director, and I'm another who enjoyed this one.

    No, it wasn't especially zippy or clever, but it was filled very well, it was clued nicely, and it was pretty free of anything strained or forced.

    Found it mostly easy, other than the NW. I'm not familiar with BOMBSHELL or RED DUST, so I struggled a bit up there. Otherwise, this was a breeze.

    @Loren: My family has always had SCOTTIEs. They don't warm immediately to new people and are a bit skeptical of them at first. But once you establish their trust, they're incredibly warm, friendly and loyal dogs. They're also incredibly stubborn. I can definitely see initial impressions being that they're aloof. In reality, they're just assessing you. If you pass the test, they're wonderful dogs.

    Masked and Anonymo10Us 2:07 PM  

    Always fun to have a puz about old flicks. Maybe someday they can do a puz about flicks about puzs?
    re: 72-Down: Ed Wood. har. Now there's a director.

    And re: 24-A: One of my fave flicks alltime. Flyin monkeys. Sweet. Malapoppily, that was my schlock flick pick for last FriNight's festival: "Flying Monkeys".

    Ooh, and 98-D: M&A got shoved into an "advanced English class" one time, in high school. They somehow reasoned that if the kid understood group theory, he'd be all hot and bothered to read extra novels, like "Lord Jim". Aw contrary. Read the first coupla pages, the day he got the book. Read the last x-2 pages, the night before they gave his class the exam on the book. Never wanted to read a novel again. (Fortunately, Isaac Asimov sucked him back in, eventually.)
    But I digress.

    @muse: a-musin limerick. That (and crosswords) is what they oughta teach about writin, in advanced English class.

    Fun puz. Off now to watch "Bombshell". War movie?


    Numinous 2:37 PM  

    Cruciverbalist, Lauren the muse
    Wrote a limerick that was a ruse.
    Though it did not adhere
    to the form set by Lear,
    It was able to brightly amuse!

    Good for you @Lauren.

    chefbea 2:45 PM  

    @Numinous and you too!!! We should all try to write a limerick.

    Fred Romagnolo 2:54 PM  

    Fleming and Gable were good friends and hunting buddies. Only surprise for me was "Lord Jim;" but the silents were before even MY time (82)

    Fred Romagnolo 3:00 PM  

    Good puzzle; no pop stars, or obscure sports data; I know Rex hates the "old-fashioned" ones, but people like me are very comfortable with them

    M and Also 3:10 PM  

    Frankenstein made pewit birds,
    Then desperately searched for the words
    To describe such a mess,
    In three feet or less,
    Finally read "Lord Jim" instead, mutterin "nerds".

    Coset of M&A

    Anonymous 4:04 PM  

    There was a SOLIPSIST named Rex
    All too many a constructor would he vex
    Your puzzle he'd bury
    Unless you're Patrick Berry
    Please no naticks or RRNs like MMIX.

    Rob C 4:52 PM  

    Easy-Medium for me. I'm not a movie buff. So, count me as one who didn't know Fleming, but still enjoyed the puzzle. And learning something I didn't know at the same time. Obviously, with that list of films, he was a titan of the industry. Seems to me he is clearly cross-worthy, regardless of the constructor.

    Unknown 4:53 PM  

    There is an old puzzler named Numinous
    Whose comments are thoughtful and luminous
    He cheers on new posters
    And cures hops in his oasters
    Fired by coal that's bituminous?

    Anonymous 4:56 PM  

    And no cheater squares, no POCs and no gimmicks,
    No E-notes, no E-anything, no tricks.
    No composers, no subpar fill
    It makes him quite ill
    And make sure your pangram has 25, not 26.

    wreck 4:56 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    wreck 4:59 PM  

    There once was a man from Natick.....

    .... Couldn't come up with anything appropriate after that I could post here ; )

    chefbea 5:19 PM  

    @wreck here goes

    There once was a man from Natick
    Who knew how to do a trick
    He would cross the street
    To go find a beet
    When he ate it he became sick

    wreck 5:23 PM  


    Well.. That was certainly cleaner than mine!!

    John V 5:44 PM  

    Well. When I saw this an old movie theme, from the by-line, I took a pass, as I know essentially about movies, with Coen and Mamet excepted.


    Glad to see it was fun for so many. Happy to read of His Honor's tutelage and its great results!

    FearlessKim 6:10 PM  

    There was a constructor in Natick,
    Who, to please Rex, left out words like pewit.
    Nonetheless Rex, not pleased,
    Saying "OY VEY" and "GGGGG,"
    Wrote that Natick was naught but a dimwit.

    Gorelick 6:10 PM  

    I told my former colleague and Victor Fleming biographer Michael Sragow about the puzzle. He told me that he called Victor Fleming's daughter to let her know about it. If I learn what her response was I'll let you know.

    art mugalian 6:38 PM  

    I've heard that those stories about the Singer Midgets being crazed animals-- like hotel-wrecking rock stars-- is vastly exaggerated. And Judy Garland may be most responsible for spreading those stories.

    Unknown 7:20 PM  

    Thanks for all the nice comments.


    Mohair Sam 8:35 PM  

    @Gorelick - Be sure to follow up, even it takes a few days. It would be neat to hear her response. Thanks.

    OISK 9:02 PM  

    Writing verse, as I've always agreed, it
    Takes talent. Alas how I need it
    So I'm not posting mine
    Until just after nine
    When there's nobody likely to read it!

    Numinous 10:30 PM  

    Very nicely done, OISK!

    retired_chemist 11:42 PM  

    @ OISK - best of the day IMO.

    wreck 12:12 AM  

    Well played!!!

    gringa 12:15 PM  

    Help! What does 9D mean.??? Vier + vier = ACHT?..

    Badir 12:24 PM  

    @grina: They are German numbers. 4 + 4 = 8

    Liz 12:01 AM  

    Enjoyed this puzzle immensely. This one was virtually Google proof - to keep the challenge alive I dared not do Internet searches on either Fleming himself or any of the themed movie answers.so, although the fill may have been somewhat easier than your average Sunday NY Times puzzle, it worked like the old puzzles I used to help my mother with when I was a kid, long before there WAS an internet.

    Unknown 1:13 PM  

    Haven't made a Sunday puzzle in a while (they're too big and usually end up boring me), but I enjoyed this one mainly because it dealt with classic movies. Of course I knew Fleming, most of his movie are well-known to movie lovers. Fleming actually had a break down during the filming of GWTW, and was replaced for a while by Sam Wood, Hearing that Wood was doing a fine job, Fleming quickly came back to finish the movie.

    Enjoy the fill, easy and comfortable (for me), no goggle! My only dislike was LUXE for ELEGANCE, it's really not synonymous. Bye all!

    Limerick Bill 1:29 AM  

    Here, finally, is a Sunday puzzle that is tight, professional, and pleasing to solve, and then we have to read what Rex says. Well, I guess we don't have to read it, if truth be told. When was the last Sunday published that had no dreck, no crap, no sigh-inducing fill? And, to take the cake, how could so many people not know who Victor Fleming (the director) was. It says something about the crowd here that they are more familiar with VF, the very fine crossword constructor, than they are with the director. Rex probably thinks that this is just old stuff, therefore not important, like The Simpsons or P. Diddy. Death, where is thy sting? Yeah, that's Shakespeare, as is the following:

    A crossword blogmeister named Sharp,
    Likes puzzles 'bout which he can harp,
    On what is bad fill
    And how he might kill
    Future grids upon which he might carp.

    'Cuz it's clear he's a hard-on for Shortz,
    An Ed he no longer supports,
    Nor the puz in the Times.
    He's seen too many "crimes"
    And to vehemence he now resorts.

    spacecraft 11:52 AM  

    Bravo to @Limerick Bill! "A bunch of movies??" TWOO and GWTW?? And is the Faberge collection "a bunch of eggs?" Methinks somebody's brain is, uh, scrambled.

    Our leader is OFT in high dudgeon.
    He loves to take out his bludgeon
    And WREAK havoc on grids--
    Even those by just kids!--
    Criminey! What a curmudgeon!

    And yes, that word did WREAK much trouble for me, having tried WRought, then WRacKED, then WREcKED. With my flight board info being ET_S (A or D to be decided later), and my having forgotten that we did indeed bomb poor LAOS back then, plus running the alphabet to get LASE (haven't seen "Frozen" yet), the SW was a mess for a while.

    Another tough spot for me was the middle east (go figure!)--not the IRANIAN kind, the grid kind. I had forgotten that great word SOLIPSIST and always, ALWAYS have a headache with NTESTS. I WISH they'd cut that out!

    The rest of it was easy, but for those two areas, I have to even it out to about a medium. The fill is pretty damn good, featuring the double Bush appointees in the top corners...why didn't OFL give props for that? Not only was the theme dense, it featured two Z's and three J's--all "wrought" in very nicely. This dude has built a puzzle or sixty before.

    And no, I never actually realized that those two 1939 masterpieces were directed by the same guy. Now that's what I call a banner year!

    Real-word captcha is sunset: how apropos!

    Red Valerian 1:44 PM  

    Nice limerick, @spacecraft! And others. I'm not up to it (you might be happy to hear).

    Don't really have much to add, except that I had ___OTS for 45D ("fortune-telling aids") and briefly considered idiOTS.

    Solving in Seattle 2:22 PM  

    Fleming dude sure had a great directing career - Wow! I, too, wasn't aware.

    14D clue should have had an acronym alert. Had SNArls/volcano before SNAFU/FISSURE.

    Agree with OFL that puz wuz easy - maybe my fastest Sunday.

    Not sure how the limerick thing started but @Spacy wins the Oscar.

    See you guys in a couple of weeks. Aloha.

    Three fives.

    spacecraft 3:53 PM  

    I forgot to thank Ron Diego and @Diri for their kind comments yesterday, to which I'll now add thanks to @Red Valerian and @SIS for today's. Warmly appreciated.

    Numbers this time: 99922.

    Dirigonzo 5:01 PM  

    Shall puzzles from now on be judged by how many limericks they inspire? If so, the bar has been set very high, it seems.
    With the two Bush appointees duly noted by @spacey and the unheralded Bush brother lurking in the grid, is that enough for a mini-theme?
    Today must be Proper Name Day for crosswords - Frank Longo's puzzle featured the names of 10 redheads to go along with the eight movies listed here. I generally don't do well with proper names but I managed to finish both puzzles (I'm not sure what that says about me).

    @SiS - Aloha! Have a wonderful trip to the Land of DONHO.

    Two (lousy) pairs.

    tobers 5:19 PM  

    As a movie aficionado brought up in Hollywood, I knew Victor Fleming personally and was well aware of the films he directed. So this crossword was a cinch for me.

    Anonymous 11:42 PM  

    Could not recall the Bush brother for the life of me (not my favorite family). I ran the alphabet with the EI in place and stopped two letters too soon, naming him LEIF. Yes...Leif Bush. I mean, come on. Are there, or have there ever been, anywhere on the planet, a pair of brothers named Jeb and Leif? Let alone a movie called FORD JIM.

    Anonymous 11:54 AM  


    Another arrogant snob.

    If u are so smart Rex, why not created your own crossword puzzles, DIPSHIT.

    Z 12:39 PM  

    @anonymous11:54 - profane and ignorant, why not go for the trifecta? Your post says 2 much about u.

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