Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Waterworld”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upWe have five actors in this week’s contest puzzle which will hopefully lead us to a Best Picture-winning movie. Tentatively assuming each one contributes one letter to the meta solution, I might just start looking for 5-letter Best Picture winners, but let’s look at each theme entry first:
- 17a. [He played Smee in the 1991 movie “Hook”], BOB HOSKINS – Smee and Peter Pan were on the “Jolly Roger”
- 25a. [She played Rose Sayer in a classic 1951 film, casually], KATE HEPBURN – did she play the role casually or did she make a firm commitment to the role? :) Anyway, it’s telling that the clue doesn’t mention the name of the movie which was The African Queen, also the name of the boat she and Bogie rode
- 38a. [He played Commander Dwight Towers in 1959’s “On the Beach”], GREGORY PECK – just the year before my birth, it depicts Earth after WW III predicted in 1964 (!). Luckily it still hasn’t happened 53 years later. Here the “boat” was actually a submarine named the USS Sawfish
- 50a. [He had the famous line in “Jaws”: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”, ROY SCHEIDER – boat was called “Orca”
- 60a. [He played Captain Nemo in 1954’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”], JAMES MASON – boat was called “Nautilus”
I started by trying to find the names of the bodies of water or countries in which each of these movies was set (I knew Africa was the lead in the second themer), but then figured the names of the boats featured in each movie would be more consistent. That list becomes:
- Jolly Roger
- African Queen
- USS Sawfish (I thought the Sawfish part was more important)
Taking those first letters, I got JASON. Hmmm, what famous Jason was associated with water? Well, good ol’ Jason of the Argonauts fame, who searched for the Golden Fleece in their ship named Argo, which is also the name of a Best Picture winner (from 2013). Though some of these movies date back to before I was born, I would say most of the boat names are pretty memorable with the definite outlier of the sub in On the Beach. (I probably don’t have to ask readers to chime in if they feel differently.) I did like the consistency of the solution being the name of a boat as well, though since I never saw the movie, I have my doubts if a boat featured in it as it dealt with saving hostages in Iran.
I had the hardest time parsing E.R. NURSE in the upper right, especially with its non-hospital clue of [Stressful position]. Though having BRACES as an adolescent, I never heard anyone (to my face anyway) refer to them as [“The tin grin”]. Finally, I feel entries like THE JOB are a GRAY AREA, but I enjoyed its clue of [You shouldn’t lie down on this]. No indeed and my job is done here now.