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September 24, 2009

Movie Trivia Question

Posted by John Baez

I’m back at Riverside after a quantum gravity school in Corfu where I learned many wonderful things, which I’m eager to explain…

… but I’m still recovering from jet lag, so my first blog entry will be a totally unrelated trivia question. Sorry.

In a certain Star Trek episode, the investigation of a crime requires a device that can magnify sounds by “one to the fourth power”. This episode features an actor who also appeared in two Bogart movies. In one of these, the last line consists of a single word. What is the last line in the other?

Posted at September 24, 2009 5:38 AM UTC

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Re: Movie Trivia Question

“The stuff that dreams are made of.” from The Maltese Falcon?

Posted by: ericv on September 24, 2009 6:50 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

I don’t think so. What do you think was the one-word last line in the other movie?

Posted by: John Baez on September 24, 2009 6:52 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

Well, to be honest, I didn’t look that far.

My guess is that the actor you are refering to is Elisha Cook Jr , as he not only features in “The Maltese Falcon”, but also in the Bogart movie “The Big Sleep” and features in the Star Trek episode “Court Martial”.

As “The stuff that dreams are made of.” appears to be the last line of the movie “The Maltese Falcon”, I didn’t bother to check what was said in “The Big Sleep”.

I need to go to work now, but I’ll have a better look at it when i get back.

Regards Eric

Posted by: ericv on September 24, 2009 6:59 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

Nothing you can’t fix.

(The last line of “The Maltese Falcon” is actually “Huh?”)

Posted by: Scott Morrison on September 24, 2009 7:21 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

Let’s try: “It’ll be good Bernie. It’ll be very good. Because you won’t have to hold me here. I’ve decided already myself to stay”

Again I must admit I am not sure. Above excerpt was taken from the script of the Big Sleep.

This site also has the script of the Maltese Falcon.

According to that site, apparently the last words of the Maltese Falcon before fading out are: “Well.. send her in”

I think I am going to rent these two movies just to be sure.

Regards Eric

Posted by: ericv on September 24, 2009 1:18 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

You’re certainly on the right track, Eric: the actor I’m talking about is Elisha Cook Jr., who played the lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the Star Trek episode “Court Martial”. (Not to be confused with the author Samuel T. Cogley who wrote the story “Court Martial” for the SF magazine Galaxy!)

Elisha Cook Jr. is a character actor with an enormous resume. He often played cowardly bad guys. And indeed, he played Wilmer (the Fat Man’s ‘gunsel’) in The Maltese Falcon and also Harry Jones (the guy who gets poisoned by a hired killer) in The Big Sleep — two of my favorite movies.

So the only question is which of these movies has its last line consisting of a single word, and what’s the last line of the other one.

Unfortunately I’m pretty sure the actual screenplays of these movies differ significantly from the scripts you cited!

I think I am going to rent these two movies just to be sure.

Great! They’re lots of fun. I own them, but I should watch them again to check on the last line.

Posted by: John Baez on September 24, 2009 3:32 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

Well it’s edited quite badly and you can’t tell if it’s at the end of the film, but here’s the YouTube version of the lines from the Maltese Falcon.

Posted by: Simon Willerton on September 24, 2009 4:34 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

Oh, I actually thought I had the right answer there. IMBD says this is the last line of The Big Sleep.

Posted by: Scott Morrison on September 24, 2009 6:03 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

Here’s the end of The Big Sleep á la YouTube. It certainly looks like it’s consistent with Scott’s answer.

Posted by: Simon Willerton on September 24, 2009 6:41 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

infinity raised to the infinite power; Re: Movie Trivia Question

I can top 1^4 quite easily with the scene from the classic film “Forbidden Planet” [1956] where, looking at the (analog) meters of the Krell power source, it is explained as: “Ten raised almost literally to an infinite power.”

This is not to be confused with “Anna to the Infinite Power” which was a 1983 science fiction/thriller film about a teenager who learns that she was the product of a cloning experiment.

Nor, for that matter, to be confused with these gems, cited in Ansible 247, February 2008, Copyright (c) Dave Langford, 2008 (and available online: google that title!):

* Philosophy Dept. ‘If the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line, how do you go from point A to point B? This sort of debate could take a long time.’ (Colin Kapp, Transfinite Man aka The Dark Mind, 1964) [AR]

* Worsening Odds Dept. ‘Outspace there was one chance in infinity squared that he would not die.’ But later: “‘I don’t give you one chance of survival in infinity raised to the infinite power,’ said Madden.’” (Ibid)

Posted by: Jonathan Vos Post on September 24, 2009 9:01 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: infinity raised to the infinite power; Re: Movie Trivia Question

My favorite of this sort is the line

one times one times one times one times zero equals a million

from The Universe Maker.

Posted by: Mike Shulman on September 24, 2009 4:13 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: infinity raised to the infinite power; Re: Movie Trivia Question

Here’s a thing that’s always bothered me. “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line” is a standard phrase. But it’s obviously nonsense (even in Euclidean space), and nobody seems to mention it. A distance is a numerical value, a measure of distance. A straight line is a geometric construction. A distance can’t be a geometrical construction. “the shortest route between two points is a straight line” makes sense. “the shortest distance between two points is the length of the straight line between them” makes sense. But the original phrase is nonsense. Unless there’s an archaic use of “distance” I don’t know.

Posted by: Dan Piponi on September 24, 2009 6:25 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: infinity raised to the infinite power; Re: Movie Trivia Question

One possibility is that it’s lost some of the original words that specify things more correctly, particularly since it’s primarily used by people who wouldn’t make the distinction. Phrases evolve partly as people either mishear (or hear terms they don’t know as different words)/misremeber and these versions of the phrase become predominant. (A sub-species where the substition occurs with words with accidentally appropriately evocative meanings are called eggcorns.)

Posted by: bane on September 25, 2009 7:35 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: infinity raised to the infinite power; Re: Movie Trivia Question

There’s also the Infinite Improbability Drive from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which (IIRC) produces events with odds of “2 to the infinity minus one power to one against.” But of course, this being Hitchhiker’s, this is almost certainly meant as a parody.

There’s also the xkcd comic about “Powers of One,” which was definitely meant parodically.

Posted by: harrison on September 26, 2009 10:27 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: infinity raised to the infinite power; Re: Movie Trivia Question

‘I don’t give you one chance of survival in infinity raised to the infinite power,’ said Madden.

By the Law of Narrative Causaility, that makes it absolutely certain! (I'm right, aren't I? The character survived.)

Posted by: Toby Bartels on September 27, 2009 12:07 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Flamous Last (*Trek) Lines

“Let’s get the hell out of here …”

Posted by: Jon Awbrey on September 24, 2009 5:46 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

I sent the correct answer to John last night, but he suggested I put it here. While everyone else seems to have narrowed it down, I don’t think I saw the full correct answer yet.

It’s “Nothing you can’t fix.” from The Big Sleep, which includes Elisha Cook Jr. in the cast. The other film is the Maltese Falcon, whose last line seems to be “Huh?”.

Posted by: Greg Friedman on September 24, 2009 8:29 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Movie Trivia Question

You’ll notice I answered this correctly above! I win, I win! :-) I was actually pretty impressed how easily some google-fu answered this. I knew nothing when I started googling, except I guess that Maltese Falcon was Bogart.

Posted by: Scott Morrison on September 30, 2009 8:02 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: one to the fourth power

One suspects, or hopes — perhaps too charitably — that the writer wrote 1 x 10^4 and the talent merely flubbed the line.

Posted by: Jon Awbrey on September 25, 2009 3:46 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: one to the fourth power

Although I can’t find any link on the web, apparently there’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the script writers make fun of the way they’re more concerned with “sounding right” to general viewers rather than have a thought out “break-point” between real science and invented science. There’s some disintegration of the ship caused by some strange particles. These are apparently, in the script, discovered after investigation to be already known to 24th century science under the name of “sselgninaem particles”. (I’ve never knowingly seen that episode so I don’t know how the case decided to pronounce that.)

Posted by: bane on September 25, 2009 4:01 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: one to the fourth power

I didn't find it either until I tried alternate spellings.

http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Selgninaem

Posted by: Toby Bartels on September 25, 2009 6:30 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

“E. S. Nesnon”; Re: one to the fourth power

Read “Selgninaem” backwards.

When I was an undergrad at Caltech, a student cartel (of which I owned or had proxy to 11%) owned and operated the candy machines, soda machines, cigarette machines, hot food machines, and pinball machines (including beta test of the world’s first console videogames). The name of our cartel was : E. S. Nesnon.”

Posted by: Jonathan Vos Post on September 25, 2009 7:35 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

“E. S. Nesnon”; Re: one to the fourth power

Read “Selgninaem” backwards.

When I was an undergrad at Caltech, a student cartel (of which I owned or had proxy to 11%) owned and operated the candy machines, soda machines, cigarette machines, hot food machines, and pinball machines (including beta test of the world’s first console videogames). The name of our cartel was : E. S. Nesnon.”

Posted by: Jonathan Vos Post on September 25, 2009 7:36 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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