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Toughie 1137

Toughie No 1137 by Elkamere

Drowning by Numbers

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BD Rating – Difficulty *****Enjoyment *

I’m sure this was a very difficult puzzle to put together, but for someone with my lack of interest in films it was totally wasted. If it hadn’t been for Google, I would never have finished it, and if I hadn’t been reviewing it, having seen the word film a dozen times, I wouldn’t have started it. The Telegraph usually avoid themed puzzles, a policy that I wish they had stuck to today.

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.


8a    Film single craft that’s right at the front (8)
{RICOCHET] – take I (single) and a craft which involves intertwined loops, executed in wool or thread with a small hook, and move the R(ight) to the front

9a    ‘Stop’ on vacuum cleaner (6)
{HOOVER} – a verb meaning to stop in mid-air around O (vacuum a command to stop, as in to stop a horse, followed by a word meaning on (thanks Jezza[

10a    A gas fire (3)
{AXE} – the A from the clue followed by the chemical symbol for a gaseous element

11a    Film perfectly describes communist troops (8)
{PREDATOR} – a three-letter word meaning perfectly around the usual communist and followed by some troops

12a    Bones in back area (6)
{STERNA} – the back of a ship followed by A(rea)

13a    Film hopefully features circuit and racing driver (but not together) (4,4,7)
{GOOD WILL HUNTING} – a phrase meaning hopefully or if circumstances permit (3,7) around (features) O (a circuit – yuk!) and a former F1 racing driver

15a    Far from impressive save (7)
{USELESS} – split as (3,4) this could mean to save

18a    A joint’s bar about to be done up (7)
{ADORNED} – the A from the clue followed by the reversal (about) of a joint or meeting-place and a bar or pole

21a    Film of all sexual twists involving an actor (2,4,3,6)
{LA CAGE AUX FOLLES} – an anagram (twists) of OF ALL SEXUAL around (involving) the surname of an actor

24a    Time you and I have to grab a little bit of lunch? (6)
{TWELVE} – T(ime) and the abbreviated form of “you and I have” around (to grab) the initial letter (a little bit) of Lunch

25a    Film ‘The Thing’ has tortured girl oddly taking lead (4,4)
{TRUE GRIT} – the two-letter word for “the thing” preceded by (taking lead) the odd letters of two words in the clue

26a    Boxer, very famous? No way! (3)
{ALI} – a roster of the allegedly famous without (no) the ST (street / way)

27a    Leaders in Daily Telegraph to admit paper wasn’t practical? (6)
Leaders in this paper to admit paper wasn’t practical? (6) (newspaper version)
{DREAMT} – the initial letters of Daily Telegraph around (to admit) a quantity of paper

28a    Film announcers to gather on the wagon (8)
{CRITTERS} – some announcers of news, perhaps in a town, around (to gather) the two-letter abbreviation for “on the wagon” or abstaining


1d    Bacterium, that central to giving life? (6)
{VIBRIO} – the middle letters (central) of giVIng followed by a word meaning life or vivacity– surely it should be “that’s central to giving life”

2d    Mostly kind, then played dirty (6)
{SORDID} – most of a kind or type followed by a verb meaning played

3d    Film with Mr Ledger capturing criminal is tale by Mr Jonson (4,4,7)
{WHAT LIES BENEATH} – W(ith) and the first name of the late Mr Ledger around an anagram (criminal) of IS TALE and the first name of the seventeenth century playwright, poet, and literary critic Mr Jonson

4d    Rock hard? That’s about right (7)
{STARTLE} – hard, when applied to bread, around R(igh)T

5d    Film dishes out much fun, so it does (3,5,2,5)
{THE SOUND OF MUSIC} – an anagram (dishes out) of MUCH FUN SO IT DOES

6d    Film rental — so sad (4,4)
{LONE STAR} – an anagram (sad) of RENTAL SO

7d    Film director’s new version of Omen (4,2,2)
{LEAN ON ME} – the surname of a famous film director followed by an anagram (new version) of OMEN

14d    Are debtors powerless? Not entirely (3)
{OWE} – hidden (not entirely) inside the clue

16d    Film sailor turning green on board steamer (4,4)
{STAR WARS} – a sailor and the reversal (turning) of an adjective meaning green or inexperienced inside (on board) the usual SteamShip

17d    Film in which bird’s doubled up (4,4)
{LIAR LIAR} – a bird with drab grey and brown plumage followed by the same bird (doubled) all reversed (up in a down clue)

19d    Being rejected a part of falling in love (3)
{NIL} – hidden (a part of) and reversed (being rejected) inside the clue

20d    Only kill to make amends (7)
{JUSTICE} – a word meaning only followed by a slang verb meaning to kill

22d    Most of crowd in house running into each other (6)
{LEGATO} – most of a crowd at, say, a football match inside one of the twelve houses of the zodiac gives the musical notation for notes running into each other without a break

23d    Before boxing fighter is an outcast? (6)
{ÉMIGRÉ} – the poetical word for before around (boxing) a Russian fighter plan

Posters for the twelve films can be seen below. I have seen four of them and the stage version of a fifth. I can say with some confidence that I will not be seeing the other seven


22 comments on “Toughie 1137

  1. I thought this was difficult, and in most instances worked out the film, and fathomed the wordplay afterwards.
    I failed to understand 8a, although I guessed the film.

    Thanks to Elkamere, and to BD for the explanations.
    I worked out 9a differently; HO(stop, as in a horse) OVER(on).

  2. I thought this was good and rather enjoyed the film theme. However, I share your misgivings BD about “circuit” in 13a [although I think the Germans use “ring” for circuit] and I agree that “that” in 1d should be “that’s” or preferably removed altogether. I also parsed 9a as HO +OVER.

    Particularly liked the and lit at 24a and [my last in] 8a.

    Thanks to Elkamere and BD.

  3. Thanks toElkamere and to Big Dave for the review and hints. I’m not a film buff, so looked up all the film answers. Much to my surprise I had heard of exactly half, so I suppose it’s not too obscure a puzzle. As for the rest of it, I found it so difficult even with the checkers. Only managed to solve 3, got 5 from the hints and had to look up the rest. Was many stars for difficulty, and none for enjoyment. Not my kind of puzzle.

  4. Looked at this online then came here to see Big D’s comments. I’ll give it a miss & go straight to the FT.

  5. Waste of time for me

    I think the last time I went to a cinema was for the original showing of 16d.

  6. We are not film buffs, and looking through the list have worked out that we have only seen two of them, 5d and 16d. However we completed the whole puzzle without having to use Google at all. The last one to slot in was 21a which only one of us had heard of. It all took us quite some time but it did keep us entertained and amused throughout so we would mark it highly for both difficulty and enjoyment.
    Thanks Elkamere and BD.

    1. Welcome indeed! Which part of God’s Own County do you hail from? I’m an ex pat living down south now (Nottinghamshire!).

  7. Thanks for an entertaining challenge.

    The Hoover clue had me baffled but the BRB confirms HO is to stop, but as it’s the last definition it’s pretty obscure.

    Good to see so much thematic material in a puzzle, perhaps it could have had an Araucaria style preable that a number of answers are thematic and lack a definition.

    Thanks to Elkamere and BD for stepping in, I am home now but still feeling a bit grotty; a weekend of rest and recuperation and crosswords is called for!

    1. Hi Tilsit, hope you are back on all cylinders soon. Hoover was my last to have any sensible reason why I’d put it in also. I have sat on horses since a lad and have never ever heard that expression. Oh well, live and learn, thanks to BD and Elkamere

  8. I only like “themed” crosswords when I know something about the theme. I didn’t enjoy this today. But Thanks anyway!

    I wonder how many times I’ve watched “The Sound of Music” without actually viewing it from start to finish?

  9. Extremely hard, and after far too long I’ve only done six clues (and had got one of those wrong) so thanks for the explanations, BD – much appreciated as ever.

  10. Not for me. I’m sure it’s very clever (and equally sure that I’m not) but l can’t muster the enthusiasm to get to grips with this one.

  11. What a stinker! Great for film buffs! Finally finished 10.20 p.m.
    Like a challenge ,but this was ridiculous.

  12. Disappointed that none of the matinee films of Lash LaRue met the definition “film”
    But some clever clues ,favourite 24a .
    Jolly hard work for me as a non fan of thematic puzzles but well done BD and thanks to Elkamere for the challenge

  13. Funnily enough, I solved this quite quickly, through a mixture of a bit of film knowledge ( a very little bit), parsing or half-parsing the (sometimes tortuous) clues, and googling cage (an unhelpful clue, I thought). It was half an hour of overdrive for Elkamere’s back-page colleague and far tougher than a Toughie was supposed to be, as conceived by the newspaper editor who originally asked me to help start this new series. That said, there is a place for this sort of puzzle every now and then, I think. And thanks fro the feedback on my own easy/hard puzzle!

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