"weenie", the alternative "MacGuffin"? And other movie terms from 1946

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Feb 27 22:48:34 UTC 2014

New York Herald Tribune, 20 October 1946 (Sunday), THIS WEEK
magazine, article "Cliff-Hangers", by William Roberts, pp. 15, 26, & 27.

This article about the current process of producing movie serials has
the following:

"The most important element of a serial plot is the 'weenie,' that
is, the object of all the mayhem that takes place from episodes one
to 13.  [Later, the writer indicates that 13 is the last
episode.]  The weenie can be a map, a document, a mine, an oriental
scarab with mystic powers, an invention, or, as in one case, a Nazi
plot to gain control of 'Middle Africa.' To justify the number of
people done to death during the course of the action, the weenie must
have fabulous importance attached to it. It must be the most valuable
map, document, mine, etc., in the world."  P. 26, col. 3.

The weenie has some similarity to the MacGuffin, at least as
explained by Wikipedia: "a plot device in the form of some goal,
desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues,
often with little or no narrative explanation. The specific nature of
a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot. The most
common type of MacGuffin is an object, place or person; other types
include money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or other things

I will not try to analyze the difference, since I am not a recognized
film critic or lexicographer.

"weenie" in this sense is not in OED3.

Other movie terms claimed by the article (p. 27, cols. 2 and 3) are:

"clean heavy": the leading heavy, "the suave, sinister figure behind
the villainy".  Not in OED3 ("heavy", short for "heavy villain", is).

"dirty (or "dog") heavy": "the wretch who performs the strong-arm
thuggery".  Neither is in OED3.
      "dirty heavy": GBooks has several.  One is alleged to be
Collier's Illustrated Weekly - Volume 81 - Page 12 (1928): "In motion
pictures we have light heavies, heavies and dirty heavies, and the
ex-pug of the cauliflower ears and broken nose is usually cast as a
dirty heavy."  Others are 1982, 1989, 1990, 1994.
      "dog heavy": GBooks alleges several.  1947, Billboard - Nov 1,
1947 - Page 49 ("dirty-dog heavies"; full view); 1952/1954; and 1960s
through 2013.

"goodie" (or "goody"): hero, heroine, or ally.  Not in OED3.  GBooks
has at least 2007 (Take Me to Your Leader), but even with "movies"
added too many to search through.

"cheater-cut":  "the introduction of a few feet of film showing a
hitherto-unnoticed avenue of escape for the intended victim."  Not in
OED3.  GBooks has 1973 (An illustrated glossary of film terms), 1977,
1979, and a few later, mostly definitions rather than use.

American Notes & Queries - Volume 6 - Page 119 (1946?) appears to
quote from the NYHT article ... or vice versa.  GBooks, snippet.

I can send a PDF to those who wish one. (The article itself is an
amusing take on the production of serials.)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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