“I have a competition in me…”

I had three thrilling entries for the Shadowplay First Freaky Friday Free Prize Give-away Spectacular.


Question (1): I asked, of Cary Grant’s character name in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, ‘If the “O” in “Roger O Thornhill” didn’t stand for “Nothing,” what would it stand for?’

First to write in was David Ehrenstein, with the topical “Obama”. That sounds pretty nice — Roger Obama Thornhill. It also sounds kind of like an INSTRUCTION. My first thought is that the “O” would STILL stand for nothing.

(BUT — apparently Obama voted in favour of banning cluster-bombs and land mines, while Hilary voted against. It’s only one issue, I know, but when there’s so little useful information and distinction between the candidates…)

Alex Livingston volunteered that the “O” didn’t stand for anything because it’s really a zero. But I think that gag’s already intended by the movie, so I can’t accept it. On the other hand, it suggests that Alex really needs a copy of this film.

Blake Buesnel suggests “Orville”, like the Wright brother, and cites Thornhill’s affinity, if we can call it that, with prop aeroplanes. It’s a good answer, and shows both film knowledge and lateral thinking.

prop, or wings?

Question (2): ‘If you met a stranger on a train, what would you ask him? Say he came from Peoria, Illinois, what then? Suppose he had a magic pencil?’

Now Alex comes into his own:

“if i met a stranger from peoria, illinois on a train, i would probably ask him to use his magic pencil to draw a new set of tracks to divert the train from crashing into the downtown chicago railway station. then i would ask to borrow the pencil to dig out my liver, which i would send to roger thornhill. he could staple the liver to his meaningless “o” and this would give him an acceptable middle name”

Stranger on a Train

A question (2) answer which morphs into a question (1) answer with all the graceful  ease of Robert Patrick. Outstanding, if grisly.

Blake counters with:

“If i met a stranger from Peoria, Illinois on a train, i would ask her (think of a sharp-witted, blond) to tell me a little bit about her hometown of Peoria. After a minute, I’d ask her about that dreadful fire that took the high school library. She’d agree at the unfortunate nature of the accident. I’d agree and add that it was especially unfortunate, because Peoria lost it’s greatest treasure in the most bizarre occurrence the town had seen in years: an imaginary library being swallowed up by a fictitious 3 alarm fire. Having been found out, I’d reassure her I was just being keen, as my job as an insurance investigator allows me to be, and her secret, whatever it is, is safe with me.”

Eva's no saint 

While performing a sex change on the stranger, Blake manages to evoke Eva Maria Saint in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, and also Fred MacMurray’s train-based activities in DOUBLE INDEMNITY.

The judge’s decision is final, but confusing. I say that EVERYBODY has won. The two prizes will be divided among the three of you, in a manner of my choosing. I’ll be in touch to consult with you all on this.


Incidentally, the CORRECT answer to (1) is “Ordinary”, as in Wilfred “Ordinary” Smith from STAGE FRIGHT.

No Ordinary Detective

6 Responses to ““I have a competition in me…””

  1. i am a bit ashamed to say that i already have a copy of north by northwest which i haven’t watched in years

    there is also a film reference in my answer but it is quite clumsy so i expect you did not mention it to save me the embarrassment, sort of like how people wouldn’t talk to orson welles about the lady of shanghai

  2. from shanghai, sorry

    things are going very badly indeed

  3. Now I’m intrigued. What’s the film reference? is it to do with the train crash?

    Do you want to claim the Strangers on a Train DVD then? It’s doubles-sided, with a longer version on the other side, containing scenes of Additional Gayness.

  4. the stranger from peoria is richard pryor and the train is a big silver one

    i think there is also a line in that movie about vitamin e putting lead in your pencil so i thought it might be the answer

    i wouldn’t mind claiming the SAG version of strangers on a train, but only if nobody else wants it

  5. I already have the DVDs but I’ll give my lame answers anyway. 1) O stands for Obnoxious producer married to Jennifer Jones. (poor Robert Walker) 2) “Will it play? Will it PLAY? PUT down that pencil! Give it to me! WILL IT PLAY!?!!!” Everyone who talks to you on a train is mad and threatening so this is the only thing that made sense to me.

    Stupid sense of humour.

  6. Well done, Jenny.

    there will be another quiz soon in which you can compete to win… the FILM OF YOUR DREAMS.

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