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Ebert's Little Movie Glossary: A Compendium of Movie Cliches, Stereotypes, Obligatory Scenes, Hackneyed Formulas, Shopworn Conventions, and Outdated Archetypes Hardcover – November, 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 116 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews Mcmeel Pub; 1St Edition edition (November 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0836280717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0836280715
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,608,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
You will really appreciate this book after you've read through it two or three times. After that, you'll find yourself watching a movie and yelling out, "fruit cart!" or "antiques of death!" thereby cracking yourself up, and irritating those around you who haven't been blessed with this book. :) The best thing to do is this: buy it, make your friends buy it, and spend some time reading your favorites out loud to each other. Then the more movies you watch, the more cliches you'll start spotting, and even bad movies will be more entertaining.
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Format: Paperback
If you work as a filmmaker or in television, whether as a hobby, your profession or your obssession, YOU NEED THIS BOOK. Screenwriters for both film and TV especially need this, since it deals largely with storytelling cliches, but it also lists visual ones in cinematography, in angles, in casting and in general mise-en-scene that it is absolutely crucial for the director to avoid. This book will make you a better filmmaker just on virtue of being aware of what's been done to death.
It's also useful across the board. While it usually rips into the more standardized genres (like slasher flicks or action movies), it also chainsaws such common cliches as "The Pet Homosexual" ("he can talk endlessly about sex, provided he never has any himself", most recent offender: "The Next Best Thing" and "Will and Grace"), "Baked Potato People" (the gentle lunatics in the asylum that show the outside world is crazy; most recent offender: "K-PAX"), and more subtle ones like the Fat Guy rule; if a group of men are planning an escape, the fat one usually can't be trusted.
This is a very funny book, but it's also very true, and if we made everybody currently making movies sit down and read the damn thing, we'd have better movies, or at least different cliches. Fun for the armchair film freak, but absolutely crucial for the filmmaker.
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Format: Hardcover
A very funny book, compiled by critic Ebert with the help of fans, this is the definitive list of movie cliches, everything from "Ali McGraw Disease" (the one where the actress is perfectly coifed and made up for her touching deathbed scene to the famous: "FRUIT CART!" -- an expletive used by knowledgeable film buffs during any chase scene involving a foreign or ethnic locale, reflecting their certainty that a fruit cart will be overturned during the chase, and an angry peddler will run into the middle of the street to shake his fist at the hero's departing vehicle. My favorite is the description of the inevitable scene where the bad guy stops in the middle of his elaborate plan to kill the good guy to explain helpfully his even more elaborate plans to rule the world. Lots of fun, and you'll never look at a movie -- or a fruit cart -- the same way again.
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By A Customer on October 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
Granted, some of the ideas are funny, but most of the book is a waste.
Only around a third of the entries cite more than one example. Some don't cite any. I would like to know where these particular cliches are found, especially if I don't recognize them.
I felt as if the publishers were trying to fill up space. The font is rather large, and there is quite a bit of space between entries. Plus, some strange, irrelevant pictures scattered here and there. And (in more than a few cases), the EXACT SAME IDEA is repeated under different titles.
It's almost as if the publishers downloaded their text from the Internet, didn't bother to edit for content, then slapped Roger Ebert's name on the cover. The whole thing has a very unprofessional feel to it.
It reminded me very much of those glossy #3.50-type books one finds in supermarkets.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Characters in movies and TV shows do a lot of things that don’t make much sense. And you see them over and over again in different movies by different actors directed by different directors. I’ve watched decades of horror movies and I still can’t understand why characters split up with a monster on the loose, walk backwards around corners while looking for danger from behind, and don’t just leave the haunted house and go home.

Roger Ebert has been noticing these things, too. And he’s noticed a lot of them, organized them into a list, and even explained a few of them. Ebert has gathered recurring movie clichés from his fans (two thirds of the entries in the book are credited to others) and listed them along with his own gems. And he gives each of them a cute name. Some will seem quite familiar; others may prompt you to watch your favorite movies with a new eye.

Here are ten that stood out to me:

- “As Long as You’re Up, Get Me a 2 × 4.” When a fight in a bar breaks out, nearly everyone in the place begins fighting, spontaneously and without cause— even with people they have been sitting next to for some time.

- Bathroom Rule. No one ever goes into a movie toilet to perform a natural function. Instead characters use the bathroom to take illegal drugs, commit suicide, have sex, smoke, get killed, exchange money, or sneak out through the bathroom window.

- Climbing Villain. Villains being chased at the end of a movie inevitably disregard all common sense and begin climbing up something— a staircase, a church tower, a mountain— thereby trapping themselves at the top.

- Female Voice of Destruction.
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