The following is a primer on things you might want to know about MacGuffin Movies before diving in.
The purpose of this blog is to allow me to share my opinions and “wisdom” as it pertains to classic movies. I watch multiple old movies a week thanks in large part to Turner Classic Movies and a DVR. Netflix also comes in handy at times.
The posts on the site will nearly always be on a specific movie and will cover not only a plot synopsis but a critique and any other insights on which I might draw. I have read a handful of biographies of classic film stars and directors and also have learned much from movie introductions by Robert Osborne on TCM. I will endeavor to include any sources I have referenced at the conclusion of my posts.
It is possible I might occasionally deviate from the old-time film and critique a contemporary movie, but this will be few and far between. I might also offer the occasional reference to classic movie news, such as the death of a star, but that also will be irregular.
Cinematic Shorts: You are likely to come across posts with a title containing this label. This should not be confused with reviews of short subject films. Instead, these are brief posts on movies that I have not watched recently, but feel strongly enough about to want to get my opinion out there.
Lists: At the top of the page you’ll find a tab labeled “Lists.” Here I will maintain a digital version of actual, hard-copy lists I have in real life. They track my progress working through the movies of favorite actors, directors and Best Picture winners. This should also help you gain some insight on my cinematic background. Surprised to see a movie I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments and I’ll seek it out.
Glossary: If you’re having trouble understanding some the jargon I might spout in posts, visit the glossary to get some simple definitions.
What’s Behind the Name: The term “MacGuffin” references a type of plot device used in films and one popularized by Alfred Hitchcock. The MacGuffin is something that drives the plot (such as “what’s in those wine bottles” in Notorious) but the actual definition of which is unimportant. I’ll let Hitch sum it up:
It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”, and the other answers “Oh that’s a McGuffin”. The first one asks “What’s a McGuffin?”. “Well”, the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands”. The first man says “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands”, and the other one answers “Well, then that’s no McGuffin!”. So you see, a McGuffin is nothing at all.
Rating System: I went a bit off the reservation when deciding how I would convey my ranking of movies, so there is no star system or letter grade score. I’ve gone on a five-point scale using terms frequent in my vocabulary for the best and worst on the chart and borrowed some Sinatra off-screen slang for the remainder. Below is an explanation of the terms, which can be found on the right side of the main page at all times.
- Wowza! – It doesn’t get much better than this. A “must see,” if you will.
- Ring a Ding Ding – Pretty dang good. Worth a watch, but not mind-blowing.
- Gasser – Not bad, but not great either. As Sinatra meant, “a good sit.”
- Dullsville – Not great but maybe worth a watch if your favorite star is in it.
- Yipes! – Wowza that was bad. Would not recommend. Worthy of belittlement.
Other Items: Keep an eye on the left column of the site for ever-changing items of amusement. Expect to see a movie poster, maybe a poll, who knows. Time will tell.