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Any serious movie or film industry buffs out there? (or someone who actually worked in the industry?)

I'm working on a new book. Part of the story takes place in the 1940s, with a young starlet trying to make it big. She has one failed film under her belt, however, and the problem I have is that I'm not sure how to refer to it.

I know that we, today, would say it bombed, or it flopped, or it was a dud, sucked, etc. But I'm wondering...did they refer to failed films as bombs, flops or duds back then? Or did they simply say it failed or didn't live up to expectations, or something very basic?

I know how much it bugs me to read a book set in a time period and see terminology that I know for a fact didn't come along until after time, so I'm really wanting to make sure I get this right. Can anyone help me out here?

Answer Question

Asked by wendythewriter at 4:14 PM on Apr. 11, 2013 in Entertainment

Level 33 (61,976 Credits)
Answers (3)
  • I'd first check the OED to see if they have a citation of "flop" (or "dud," or whatever) used with movies or theatrical productions, and if it was prior to the time of the story. Then I'd research films that flopped in the 1930's and -40's, then find articles, particularly in industry publications (The Hollywood Reporter was around then), in the months following their releases, about the directors, actors, etc, since those would be most likely to use the word "flop."

    Answer by SWasson at 4:30 PM on Apr. 11, 2013

  • If I remember slang from the 20's correctly (from my history classes), things that were positive, or good, were referred to as "the cat's meow", "the bees knees", "swell" or "darb". Things that were negative, or bad, were "a flat tire" or "a drag"....

    I can't remember any more... :)

    Answer by Nimue930 at 5:08 PM on Apr. 11, 2013

  • Thank you, ladies!

    Comment by wendythewriter (original poster) at 7:35 AM on Apr. 12, 2013

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