Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,545 / Cinephile

Posted by Gaufrid on November 17th, 2010


It’s Wednesday so there is a good chance that we will see Cinephile, this time with one of his ‘XX has the same meaning throughout’ puzzles. A pleasant stroll on a very wet and very windy morning.

Initially MB meant little to me but 20,24 was solved during the first pass through the clues which immediately suggested films featuring the Marx Brothers. The remaining thematic entries then became easy because I had become familiar with these films through previous puzzles. In fact some were perhaps too easy since 12,23,6 could be solved from the enumeration alone. The repeated use of ‘funny thing’ also made life simpler as did having the answer to 25ac before parsing 12,23,6.

1 COMEDIANS  COME D[ancing] I (first) ANS (solution {answer})
9 OPERA  hidden in ‘prOPER Apparel’ – ‘funny thing’ = night so the ‘scene’ comes from “A Night at the Opera“.
10 SARTORIAL  SAR[k] (king leaves island) *(TAILOR)
12,23,6 A DAY AT THE RACES  AD (publicity) AYAT[ollah] (part of religious leader) HERA (deity) in *(SECT)
15 STARTLE  ST (good person {saint}) *(ALERT)
17 AIMLESS  A (one) I L (left) in MESS (confusion)
19 FILBERT  homophone of ‘Phil’ BERT (two little boys) – (the nut of) the cultivated hazel.
20,24 DUCK SOUP  DUCKS (avoids) OUP (press {Oxford University Press}) – US slang for something very easy or a cinch.
22 CASABLANCA  ‘presidency’ = White House which when translated gives CASA BLANCA, the title of a well-known film. Another instance of ‘scene of funny thing’ (see 9ac) so “A Night in Casablanca“.
25 AYATOLLAH  TO ALL reversed in AYAH (nursemaid)
26 NIGHT  *(THING) – the third clue that has ‘funny thing’.
27 TULIP  TU (familiar address to French) LIP (speaker) – ‘tu’ in French is the second person singular for ‘you’. It is only used when talking to someone you know (‘familiar address’). When speaking to a stranger one would use ‘vous’ (normally the second person plural of ‘you’).
28 WORKHORSE  dd – punch: “a short-legged draught horse, chestnut in colour, orig bred in Suffolk”.

1 CLOUD  C (number) LOUD (making a noise)
4 ABSENCE  AB (sailor) *(SCENE) – the ‘philtre’ being “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
5 STRAUSS  ART (painting) reversed in SUSS (work out) – the family of Austrian composers.
6,14 ROOM SERVICE  ROOM (space) SERVICE (tree)
7 CHILD  L (pupil) in CHID (told off)
8 SPLAYFEET  PLAY (take the part of) in *(FESTE)
14 STAND FAST  STAND (put up with) FAST (Lent)
16 TWEENAGER  TWEE (pretty-pretty) NAG (pony) ER (the queen) – “a child who, although not yet a teenager, has already developed an interest in fashion, pop music, and exasperating his or her parents”.
18 SWALLOW  dd
19 FEATHER  FEAT (achievement) HER (female) – a reference to “Horse Feathers“.
21 CRAWL  CRAW (crop) L (line)

5 Responses to “Financial Times 13,545 / Cinephile”

  1. Tony Welsh says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. Started out with opera and duck soup. Finished it with some help from an online dictionary and a list of Marx Brothers’ films, but I did not get some of the word play. Like casa blanca equals white house equals presidency! Never heard of ayah either, or a workhorse punch, or filbert, or a service tree. So I learned a lot this morning and will now promptly forget it all again.

  2. bamberger says:

    Spotted immediately that MB =megabyte and so the theme was computing (very naive in hindsight to expect anything scientific in a crossword). The realised MB=Bachelor of medicine (no idea why the reversal) so the theme was medicine. When that failed thought about mercedes benz, municipal borough and even “men in black”. Got some other clues out but without getting the correct theme was never going to get far. I have heard of the Marx Brothers and sat through a few minutes of one of their films once but didn’t find it remotely amusing. I suppose that is the problem with themes-spot it and it becomes straightforward, miss it and you are stuck .

  3. scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    Spotted the theme more or less straight away,so this made the puzzle fairly easy for me,a big fan of the MBs.Still took a while to work out some pretty difficult clues and had to check on meaning of DUCK SOUP,which I didn’t know.
    I guess it’s not everyone’s cup of tea,but I always find this hilarious –

  4. Tony Welsh says:

    Bamberger, never presume what the theme is in advance. In this case though there were hints that it had something to do with the entertainment/film industry. I thought it was going to be a film star which would have left me in the dirt because I hardly know any. But then I hit on opera and remembered that the Marx Brothers had done a film along that line. And then duck soup clinched it. I did not know they had done a film about Casablanca, but looked up an on-line list of their films.

  5. BrigC says:

    New to the FT cryptic. Managed the theme without resorting to Google but didn’t much like loud = making noise at 1d.

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