FILM / On Cinema

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Who chooses movie titles? Who wanted to call a movie Wrestling Ernest Hemingway? Did the writer insist? Did the director insist? Did Shirley Maclaine insist, hoping to better last year's two-word terror, Used People? Or was research done? Did some man in spectacles, wearing an Italian suit and carrying an impressively thick folder say, 'We have a control group of one hundred, 98 per cent of whom expressed a wish that the theme of manual grappling and a figure from modern American literature be joined in a snappy title. And by God, that's what we're going to do.'

Hey, we're talking Hollywood - it could have happened. After all, the studios expected us to flock to What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, a good movie ruined by its moniker, just as they once expected us to troop along to those other question-mark classics, Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness?, Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? And let's not forget Dealing: The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues, The Pigeon That Took Rome, and, heaven help us, Paris Trout - another fine film done in by its own tag. Is it about fishing or some old French bitch? Go figure.

Of course, it's a personal thing. Maybe some poor saddy out there is just dying to catch Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number] But titles are indisputably vital to conveying mood and theme. Some do it with an ease bordering on high concept - Halloween, Star Wars, Gone with the Wind - while others struggle pretentiously and still miss by a mile. Like All the Fine Young Cannibals. Well, I give up: All the Fine Young Cannibals what?

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