Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Mnemonic name – could fifth tongue damn autumn?*

Posted by Encota on 11 May 2018

aka ‘Silent Movie’ by Elfman.  A clever gimmick in the clues that’s very hard to spot.  Thanks Elfman!

A very long quotation was enumerated in the Preamble as (5,4,3,5,6,2,9,3,5,4,3,4,6,10) – crikey!

Could one guess, based purely on this, what the quote might be?  Hmmm.

For some reason, part of the clue at 34ac stood out as possible anagram fodder:

  How may all mini gazettes be presented? (9, two words)

… where the 9 referred to the grid entry.  Maybe it’s a jumble / anagram of ALL MINI GAZETTES?  This quickly became LITTLE MAGAZINES which, with the checked letters I already had made it almost certain that only its centre TLEMAGAZI apparently had to be entered.  But why?

Looking at the letters removed, LITTLEMAGAZINES; well they appear to be an anagram of SILENT (or LISTEN or ENLIST or …ah, TINSEL.  Now that could be relevant for TINSELTOWN??).  Not yet sure where the instruction is to remove them, though!  Perhaps I’ll worry about that later.

Soon to follow were the entries at 6d, 15d and 33ac:


OK, with the 6 removed letters in one being split 4,2 they aren’t quite central but the same idea seems to apply – a jumble of those 6 letters removed from the outside.  But why?  Still not sure!  Has SILENT ‘messed up’ in some way and then disappeared?  Maybe the Theme is the introduction of the ‘Talkies’ – after all the enumeration 3,4,6 required below the grid just might be The Jazz Singer, said to be the first talkie.

By this stage the thematic 11ac needed to fit H.LLYWO.D.  Now that might not be HOLLYWOOD, but I’m hard-pressed to come up with any alternative. WORDs for HILLY, perhaps?

From the Preamble I seem to now have:


Now what?  As the Title uses ‘Silent’ then we must assume the quote doesn’t.  So TINSEL is by far the most likely alternative.  So ask Auntie Google about ‘Tinsel in Hollywood’ quotes and fortunately this (and similar) very quickly appears:

“Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you’ll find the real tinsel underneath.” – Oscar Levant

So we have been told to strip away the phony (anagram indicator) TINSEL* from the four thematic clues to leave the real answer underneath; and we have THE REAL TINSEL as the Discovery to go under the Grid, so everything required for submission is now sorted.

But how many of us could get to this stage without (a) not at least have a decent stab at the letter selection process from the Across clues and (b) trying to understand the Title a little more.

I had written down early on during the solve, in the margin, ‘Silent letters in clues?’ but stupidly didn’t follow through with checking it.  Once I knew that I was looking for ‘STRIP AWAY THE PHONY … OF‘ in those 17 clues, I soon found:


OK, I can see now why the phrase ‘a number of liberties, some would say’ has been used in the Preamble, as several of these probably won’t quite work in your part of the world – for example, I can imagine some in Edinburgh or Blackpool spluttering into their cornflakes as I write 😉

And that would have been mighty hard to find without knowing what I was looking for!

Elfman’s Title: not sure.

  • Does it mean ‘Mov(i)e SILENT about?’
  • Is it simply a SILENT and MOVIE combo and I am looking too hard?

I still feel I am missing something!

And my Title, above?  Trivial for all fans of Mel Brooks’ and his main character in his 1976 classic, ‘Silent Movie’*.  Where, of course, the loosely related Pub Quiz question ought to be, “Do you know the answer to the most asked Pub Quiz question about Mel Brooks’ film Silent Movie?”*


Tim / Encota

* With Mel Brooks playing Mel Funn.  And the only spoken word in the whole film being ‘Non’.  But you knew that …


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: