EV 1543 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1543

Enigmatic Variations No 1543

Hard Bargain by Opsimath

Setter’s Blog

Extra letters give AN OFFER HE CAN’T REFUSE, a quote from The Godfather by MARIO PUZO; unclued entries are actors in the film adaptation.

Very early on in my use of the internet an American colleague (dear Jim Crandall) in Istanbul recommended to me something called IMDb. A mine of detail on any movie ever made, it seemed. Twenty-five years on and that Movie Database still thrives.

Seeking a theme for a new puzzle I looked at IMDb’s list of 250 most popular movies. The Shawshank Redemption is indeed a lovely film, but maybe doesn’t merit its first-place spot.

The Godfather, though? Oh yes! A glance at the cast list showed four names all of six letters, and at once the phrase “Make him an offer he can’t refuse!” came to mind, with all the threat of violence it comprised.

So, I started off on the blessed Qxw program with BRANDO, PACINO, KEATON and DUVALL all symmetrically placed. (And what great actors, every one of them!). The actor CAAN also appeared in the grid, by chance, and fully checked so was left unclued.

The guy who came up with “an offer he can’t refuse” was of course MARIO PUZO, so I shovelled him in on the main diagonal. It took about 20 attempts and a few weeks moving the actors around before I hit a decent grid, but at that point it suddenly became easy to finish up with a pangram. The Z from Puzo helped! And I quite liked Q-ships. I apologise to solvers who may never have enjoyed a “finJan” of coffee in Turkey.

As usual, of the process of constructing clues and including a hidden message, I remember Zilch.

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