Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

More movie / translation fun


Part of being an expat cinefile is figuring out how English movie titles are translated. As I mentioned yesterday, I am pretty good at this, partly because I have a vast amount of movie trivia in my head but also because I have a pretty firm grasp on translation. Sometimes, neither of these things are any good to me because the foreign title is way off the original. Here are some that have tripped me up (or amused me) over the years.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

TWO MEN ONE DESTINY is not a title I would ever give to this movie. Only for starters (because I don’t want to be here all day), I don’t think either man would have said they believed in destiny. They were train robbers who were always figuring out their next move just moments before they needed to make it. Grade: F

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music

This is where I admit that I’m one of those people who doesn’t like THE SOUND OF MUSIC. I never saw it as a kid, so it didn’t imprint and, without the nostalgia factor, this film is empirically bad. Now that that’s out there, I will say that at least the original title is pulled from the lyrics of the opening song and SMILES AND TEARS doesn’t factor in any lyrics. Or make any sense, really. Grade: C (‘cause I don’t care)



This translation, ONE OF US, at least comes from the narration: “He’s one of us, you understand? We were good fellas. Wiseguys.” Weirdly, the title of the book is Wiseguy so this line encapsulates all versions of the title. Grade: B+

And finally, a perfect translation.

The Long Kiss Goodnight

The Long Kiss Goodnight

This is my favorite bad movie of all time. It’s got everything you’d ever want in a good movie, but amped up 1000 times and made all the more awesome for it. The French title reflects this, as it’s 1000 times more awesome than the movie. “Au revoir” means “goodbye” as everyone knows, but its original sense was “until we re-see each other” so this title is basically UNTIL WE SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN, WHICH’LL BE NEVER. The movie is saying F-you to everyone and I love it. Grade: A++

Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

5 thoughts on “More movie / translation fun

  1. They couldn’t have done that to Butch Cassidy et al – one of the best movie titles ever. I refuse to believe it.

    On the other hand, Smiles And Tears does reflect a little of the two-movies-in-one structure of Sound of Music (we’ve watched the first half so many times without getting into that whole fleeing-the-nazis bit) and you’ve got to admire the roundedness of One Of Us, making up the trio.

    Well, I mean you don’t *have* to.

    • But thousands of other movies could also be called Smiles and Tears, so the title is meaningless. It’s like calling a movie, There Is One Sunny Scene. And the Butch thing was so upsetting that I almost didn’t buy the special edition DVD set… but I had to have it because it’s one of the best things ever. Someday, I’m going to go to a place like Bolivia just to say that I have been.

    • And, yes, you *do have to* appreciate the way it all comes back around to that one line! :)

  2. A friend in France told me that Jaws is called Les Dentes de Mer (forgive me if I misspell anything, I’m illiterate in French) ….The Teeth of the Sea. So when Jaws II came out it would have been Les Dentes de Mer, Deux…

    If you say it fast, it’s funny. I got it. Needless to say they came up with something else.

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