ST 2577 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2577

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2577

A full review by Crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Big Dave’s introduction on Sunday said it all “Not a difficult puzzle, more a film quiz.” It was essential to read the editor’s note first – “In this Oscars Special, some answers include figures. A figure 1 should be input as the letter I”. Only three answers actually contained numbers, and in one of those the numerals were Roman.

Virgilius’s alter ego Brendan set a similarly themed crossword in the Saturday Guardian, the wordplay of which would have taken some working out, so I was a little apprehensive when starting to solve this one. However, with my love of cryptics and the amount of useful/less(?) trivia I remember, I had no problems at all apart from sorting out the ‘numberals’. Thanks to Virgilius from me and the (relatively few) others who enjoyed solving this one, especially Barrie!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


7a    Julia, the actress Duvall and De Niro named (7)
ROBERTS – The actors Duval and De Niro are of course both ‘Roberts’ and this is the surname of the Julia, the actress.

9a    Minnie from ‘Good Will Hunting’ and others — they’re used for the opening shots (7)
DRIVERS – Another actress, she and her family would be the DRIVERS, which are golf clubs used when starting to play a hole.

10a    Keaton of movie fame — some comedian, eh? (5)
DIANE – Hands up who else tried to put Buster or Michael in here! However, that good old hidden word indicator ‘some’ tells you that you can find the Christian name of the actress quite often seen in comedy films hidden in comeDIAN Eh.

11a    Pale actor wrongly cast in historic title role (9)
CLEOPATRA – an anagram (wrongly cast) of PALE ACTOR produces the most well known Egyptian Queen.

12a    Caine got Oscar as supporting actor in this — hero is sure clued differently (5,5,5)
CIDER HOUSE RULES – an anagram (differently) of HERO IS SURE CLUED gives the name of the 1999 film for which Michael Caine won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

13a    List includes old part for John Wayne in 2, or half of 17 (7)
ROOSTER – a list or ROSTER with an O inserted (old included): one of John Wayne’s more memorable roles was that of ROOSTER Cogburn in the 1969 version of True Grit. The reference to 17d is that the first part of that solution is another name for a rooster.

16a    Unsteady couple of Romans in sequel, first of many (5,2)
ROCKY II – Here you needed to remember the Ed’s note. Rocky (unsteady) and II (two – a couple in Roman numerals). This film was the sequel to Rocky, followed by III, IV and V and Rocky Balboa, thus making it, as the clue says, the ‘first of many’.

19a    Extraordinarily fetching team in prime — eponymous heroes of Western (3,11,1)
THE MAGNIFICENT 7 – An anagram (extraordinarily) of FETCHING TEAM IN followed by the prime number 7 – the heroes of the epic Western of the same name.

23a    Play leading roles in movie, one about former Spanish colony (5,4)
COSTA RICA – An actor in a leading role is a CO STAR , add I (one) and CA (abbreviation for the Latin word circa = about). COSTA RICA at one time belonged to Spain.

24a    Derogatory term for person Marx Brothers initially used in book about someone (5) BIMBO – An abbreviation for a biography is a BIO into which should be inserted the letters MB (Marx Brothers initially used) to get a term for a young, physically attractive but dim, naive or superficial woman.

25a    Name for guy DiCaprio contracted — and role gets transformed (7)
LEONARD – A man’s name – if you hadn’t already realised that you needed to remove the O from Leonardo diCaprio’s Christian name, ‘gets transformed’ indicated that you could get the required name from an anagram of AND ROLE.

26a    Not as fine as Oscar singularly got by ‘The Queen’ (7)

COARSER – Something consisting of large rather than fine particles would be this. An anagram (singularly) of OSCAR followed by ER (the Queen).


1d    Person with managerial role in cinema – one of two characters in Mel Brooks movie (8)
PRODUCER – Someone with a managerial role in a film production is one of the two eponymous characters in the 1968 Mel Brooks dark comedy.

2d    Tea announced, then are you getting on mad tiger? That’s real courage (4,4)
TRUE GRIT – The film in which John Wayne played the character in 13a. T (announced or spoken you don’t sound the E and the A) plus R U (are you in text speak) followed by an anagram (mad) of TIGER. Grit can represent strength of character or courage, so true grit would mean that someone had great courage.

3d    Hitchcock classic available in improperly made copy — sh! (6)
PSYCHO – Alfred’s scariest movie? An anagram (improperly made) of COPY SH.

4d    In some roles I’m performing, smile ingratiatingly (6)
SIMPER – ‘Some’ again so we are looking for a hidden word meaning to smile in a silly, weak or affected manner. It’s hidden in roleS I’M PERforming.

5d    Awfully beastly about production’s opening — it gets a Tony, not an Oscar (4,4)
BEST PLAY – Not the film awards this time, but the award for excellence in Broadway Theatre – the TONY. An anagram (awfully) of BEASTLY with P (first letter of production) inserted.

6d    Get across, in a way, what film-makers want to achieve (6)
OSCARS – the theme of this puzzle – ACROSS rearranged (in a way) gives you the name of those famous gold statuettes.

8d    Make indelible impression as nothing short of famous actor (5)
BRAND – A burn or mark with a hot iron would make an indelible impression – remove the O (nothing short) from (Marlon) BRANDO.

9d    Person who helps actor prepare piece of furniture (7)
DRESSER – A nice double definition here – and I might go so far as to say one of crosswordland’s old chestnuts! A person who assists an actor to dress or a high-backed kitchen sideboard.

14d    Went too far, with show mostly presented in open (8)
OVERSHOT – To pass beyond one’s target. OVERT (open) with SHO (show mostly) inserted.

15d    Become disorderly and almost step on Oscar, we hear (3,4)
RUN WILD – to become unruly – almost all of a step on a ladder a RUN(G) and WILD (how the surname of Oscar Wilde would sound if said out loud).

17d    Prepare to shoot hit about love — it’s on much smaller scale than ‘Titanic’ (8)
COCKBOAT – I hadn’t heard of this term for a small frail boat obtained from COCK (draw back part of the lock of a gun ready for firing) plus BAT (hit) with O (love) inserted. The clue for 13a hints that the first part of this word relates to a rooster so you should have had that inserted without working out the reference to shooting .

18d    Gripping drama, somewhat less than gross, owned by us, it’s said (3,5)

127 HOURS – An appropriate description of this gripping film where the lead character’s arm is trapped (or gripped!!) in rocks – I won’t go into the details for fear of upsetting the more delicate reader! The film’s title is, of course, 127 – a number less than 144 (a gross) and HOURS, a homophone of OURS, as in belonging to us.

19d    Get to work on story about ‘Citizen Kane’, initially (6)
TACKLE – A phrase meaning to begin to deal with – TALE (story) with the initials of Citizen Kane inserted.

20d    Virginia’s embraced by a member of crew in winner of three Oscars (6)
AVATAR – This 2009 film won Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction – A TAR (a sailor or member of a crew) embracing VA (the abbreviation for the US State of Virginia. A two year old I know still has nightmares about her mummy and daddy watching ‘the blue film’. Luckily Social Services haven’t heard about it!!

21d    Dictatorial Spaniard as star of 18 and presenter of Oscars (6)
FRANCO – the dictator who ruled Spain for many years shares his surname with James Franco, the lead role in the film in 18d and the co-host of this year’s Academy Awards Ceremony.

22d    Nominates Connery or Penn, upset about leading part in movie (5)
NAMES – to mention by name or designate. Messrs Connery and Penn are, of course, both SEANs. A reversal (upset) of SEAN with M (the lead letter of Movie).

Well, this one caused a few ‘tantrums’ with papers being thrown across the room and other similar expressions of grumpiness. I enjoyed solving this crossword and haven’t changed my mind post-review; it was definitely cryptic and not all clues had film references in them so not a complete film quiz. Given the theme, the anagram indicator of the day has to be “wrongly cast”! I will be back next Sunday to see if ‘normal service has been resumed’.

6 comments on “ST 2577

  1. Thankyou Crypticsue. And to BD for an excellent job with the visuals.

    Perhaps the most constructive idea is to include such “specials” as additions to the normal cryptic, as Don1991 suggested.

  2. Hi Crypticsue

    I liked it! (and the one in the Grauniad).

    The film knowledge required wasn’t that detailed IMHO, let’s face it, it I’ve heard of it it’s got to be pretty famous and the cryptic wordplay was up to normal Virgilus standard so well done to him!

    Wouldn’t like one every week but now and then? Makes a nice change.

    Well done Virgilius (or may I call you Brian?) for an excellent diversion and thanks to Sue for the review.

  3. It’s very difficult to set a puzzle with so many themed clues; even fitting those solutions into the grid was a fine achievement.

    However, I was one of those who just didn’t enjoy solving it at all. I appreciated the “technical merit” of the puzzle, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

    I always enjoy Virgilius’ crosswords, though, and it’s clear that some loved this one. Different strokes…

  4. The camp was and truly divided on this one. As I said last week, personally I enjoyed it.
    Thank you Cripticsue for the blog and to Virgilius for a nice entertaining (sorry no pun intended) crossword.
    As Qix said, it must be very difficult to set a puzzle with so many themed clues.

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