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

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 28 18:51:40 UTC 2014

Why is "goodie" good, but "goodie two-shoes" not so good?...


On Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 5:48 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "weenie", the alternative "MacGuffin"? And other movie terms
> from
>               1946
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> unexplained."
> 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.)
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list