MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News. Last week, Bob Mondello reviewed "W" - that's Oliver Stone's film about the relationship between George Bush, Sr., and George W. Bush. In his review, Bob suggested that if someone had made a movie about John Adams and his presidential son John Quincy Adams, it could have been called Q. And then a listener weighed in. Here's Bob.
BOB MONDELLO: I got an email after my review last week suggesting that "W" might make a good triple feature with the '60s political thriller "Z" and with Spike Lee's African-American biopic "X." It wouldn't actually be a good triple feature; "W" is not in the same league as the other two films, and anyway Spike Lee's picture is called "Malcolm X." But the concept is a grabber, W, X and Z. All we need is a Y. Back when I worked at a chain of movie theaters, the manager of our repertory house would've killed for a triple feature that would fit that easily on his marquee.
One-letter titles are hard to come by. There was "M," Fritz Lang's German crime thriller from the 1930s and the '50s American remake that would give you M&M as a double feature or "Q," a horror flick about a flying lizard that you could pair with a snake movie called "SSSSSSSSSS," where the title was just a bunch of S's. If only there'd been texting back then you might've been able to get away with "T and Sympathy" or "P-Wee's Big Adventure" or the Spanish film "I Carmela," where I was really spelled Ay. Some letters lend themselves to this kind of treatment, others not so much. X's are everywhere, possibly playing off the old racy movie rating X.
That was the idea with Roger Corman's X, where the ads noted that Ray Milland's X-ray eyes let him see through clothes. There's also the Vin Diesel action flick XXX, not to mention X-Men and X-Files. And this past summer, an Argentine film used the chromosome symbols XX for female and XY for male to come up with the title "XXY" for a story about a hermaphrodite. But L? Lots harder. For the longest time the only L title I could come up with was "El Cid," and that's clearly cheating. You'd think that'd be a French film called Elle, but I've never seen one.
There's "The L Word," on TV of course. For K, there's "K-2," about the second-highest mountain in the world. And for D, there's "D2," the sequel to "The Mighty Ducks." Also "D-Day," but for J, I've got nothing, nor for N, unless you'll give me "The EN-forcer." And oddly, the three letters that say alphabet best of all, A-B-C turn out to be among the least used in this way in titles.
For B, there's Jerry Seinfeld's "Bee Movie," but for C, you have to go back 38 years to Joe Namath's biker-gang flick "CC & Company." And for A, apart from animated shorts and obscure documentaries, I was coming up totally blank until a friend who's more literary than I suggested an elegant finesse, Daniel Day-Lewis and Demi Moore in that bright-red-A-for-adultery movie, "The Scarlet Letter." Give that guy an A for alphabetical effort and acknowledge his superior movie IQ. I'm Bob Mondello.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE "GIGI")
NORRIS: (Singing) Am I a fool without a mind, or have I merely been too blind to realize? Oh Gigi...
NORRIS: Have you got ideas for J or N or better answers than Bob's four one-letter movie picks? You can let us know at npr.org.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE "GIGI")
NORRIS: (Singing) You're not at all that funny awkward little girl I knew. Oh no, overnight there's been a breathless change in you.
NORRIS: You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News.