A Sense of Entitlement

by Chris Hancock

Regular readers will know that I sometimes give this column over to my too-clever-by-half twin brother, Calvin. He’s insufferably smug but I have to admit he inevitably comes up with something worth reading. Over to you, Calvin. Don’t let me down…

Hearty felicitations to one and all! Yes, Calvin here – Chris’s smarter twin brother. Think of me as the Mycroft to his Sherlock Holmes. As you may know, Chris occasionally lets me dispense some wisdom to you in the form of an article, often something about what is often referred to as the “silver screen”. In my previous piece, I expressed my annoyance at substandard grammar in film dialogue, and suggested some improvements.

This time I’d like to draw your attention to a most lazy and pernicious practice in the film industry – that of giving films one-word titles. I ask you… one word isn’t going to tell you much about a film, now is it? How can you decide whether to spend some of your hard-earned emolument at the cinema based on one word? Absurd! So I thought I’d choose some successful one-word-title films and, for each one, write a definition for the title word. Helpful, yes?

Now here’s where it gets interesting, if I may be so bold as to say so. I’ve chosen 26 films – one title starting with each letter of the alphabet. And that’s given me an idea for a little diversion to amuse you all. A quiz, if you will. You see, I’ve left out the names of the films, and I’ve mixed them up so that they aren’t in alphabetical order. Can you work out which films I was referring to from the definition of each title and the year the film came out?

  • The activity of going to railway stations and recording the identification numbers of locomotives [1996]
  • The sudden collapse of a business, stock exchange, etc. [1996]
  • In higher mammals, the maxilla and mandible [1975]
  • A group of four performers, or a piece of music composed for such a group [2012]
  • The long narrow stem or body of a spear or arrow [1971]
  • A small, mischievous mythical being [2003]
  • A language of the Bantu group, closely related to Swazi and Xhosa [1964]
  • A maze-like network of tunnels, chambers or paths [1986]
  • Any thick fatty oil, especially one used as a lubricant for machinery [1978]
  • A sensation of dizziness or abnormal motion resulting from a disorder of the sense of balance [1958]
  • A sub-unit of a company in the military, usually commanded by a lieutenant [1986]
  • A very pale pinkish-white or purplish-white colour [1999]
  • A piece of metal, curved or bent, used to suspend, catch, hold, or pull something [1991]
  • An interconnected group or system [1976]
  • An officer’s servant in the British armed forces [1989]
  • A hyphenated slang word meaning forceful, aggressive and impressive [2010]
  • Not excused or pardoned [1992]
  • A popular web browser, developed by the Mozilla Foundation [1982]
  • People employed to guard buildings or property [2009]
  • (Figuratively) Troubled, difficult, in danger or distress [1976]
  • Sharp jerking movements, as on a rope [1979]
  • Someone who is not a citizen of the country in which they are living [1979]
  • The beginning, as of a project or undertaking [2010]
  • The condition of being forgotten or disregarded [2013]
  • A sudden loss of position or reputation [2005]
  • The summer capital of Kublai Khan’s Yuan empire [1980]


How are you getting on? Are you tempted to scroll down and look at the answers? If so, then you’re in for a bit of a disappointment – dear me, no… Calvin doesn’t make things that easy. Chris tells me that wordsearches are popular on here, so I’ve created one containing all 26 film titles. You can view it here. The catch? I’ve omitted the word list – so you’re just going to have to roll your sleeves up and find them. Devious, huh?

Chris Hancock

About Chris Hancock

Chris Hancock (@cjhancock) is an IT consultant and dictionary enthusiast in the UK. He’s worked in Engineering and Computing since leaving University, all the time hoping that the post of Crossword Editor for “The Guardian” will come up. It hasn’t. Yet.


61 Comments to “A Sense of Entitlement”

  1. My personal bugbear, when organising my DVD collection, are all the ‘The’ movies. Maybe Calvin can write about that 😉

  2. Oh these are delightful! Thanks Chris.

  3. Your poor mother 😉

  4. A brilliant challenge! I’m stuck on four of them. Must. Not. Google.

  5. Thank you!!! Love these.

  6. I am rather in the mood to watch Trainspotting now :-)

  7. Impressed you found them for all the letters! Thank goodness for the 80s…

  8. oh dear I am useless at this! but what a wonderful way of thinkingh.

  9. Well that was an unexpected bit of fun!

  10. Nice! We had an office challenge and I only came second though!

  11. What a fabulous mind you have Chr- Calvin.

  12. Wheels within wheels – and how well it all works! Wonderful!

  13. Thank you as always!

  14. But…but…where are the solutions? You’re making me THINK.

  15. That Batman one is still confusing me, can you explain?

  16. I don’t envy people the job of naming movies, or books, or anything, for that matter! Thanks for prodding my grey matter.

  17. Amazing how many I was able to work out from the clue but had never heard of before!

  18. Nice one, but I hope you’ll do us a piece soon Chris 😀

  19. Ha ha! I’ll see what I can do, Chris :-)

  20. Okay Chris, you made me finish the quiz. (The dates helped a LOT!) Was slightly annoyed when I ended up with two L’s!!! Then I couldn’t figure out which was wrong until the rest were finished – finally had to cheat and look up the release date of Leprechaun. Phew! Back to work. :) Thanks for a great diversion!

    • Hi Penelope! Thanks for such great feedback as to the solution process. It never occurred to me that there might be alternative answers. I don’t really regard checking the years as cheating, so well done! My pleasure :-)

  21. Yes, the dates were a godsend! Or a Chrissend.

    • Heh! That’s interesting, Angie. I thought I was included the year merely as a way of confirming a right answer, rather than it being a key piece of data for choosing between two viable alternatives.

  22. What a brain you must have to dream that up! Whenever I think you’ve peaked you find as new way to intrigue and perplex us!

  23. Tearing my hair out over the last four – the wordsearch feels like cheating! Lovely Chris, thanks.

  24. How DO you dream up such things?

  25. I miss you when there are other writers. Can’t we have a Chris Hancock site? :-)

    Kidding (mostly) but I do love your mental gymanstics.

  26. Will you one day reveal the answers, for those of us with wordsearch blindness? :)

  27. What a wealth of work you’ve done, each a delight! And yes, you make us think – and we may moan but we’re secretly grateful.

  28. What do we strive to complete these challenges foe, if not your praise? I got them all!

  29. Hi Chris

    I’ve spent the morning reading through your also bys. I love your approach to language, friendly and fun. I’m tired of language sites which preach to me about what I should think and feel and, more importantly, do with words. Thank you for your delightfully fresh eye.


    • Hi Caroline! That’s so lovely of you to take the time to read my stuff and add a comment. Yes – we try to make things fun because words *are* fun to play with.. I never tire of them, or of looking at them in different ways. Thanks! :-)

  30. Just in case anyone still needs the answers (Sorry, Hilary!) here they are: Trainspotting, Crash, Jaws, Quartet, Shaft, Elf, Zulu, Labyrinth, Grease, Vertigo, Platoon, Magnolia, Hook, Network, Batman, Kick-Ass, Unforgiven, Firefox, Watchmen, Rocky, Yanks, Alien, Inception, Oblivion, Downfall, Xanadu.

Leave a Reply