First movie to use the 'Verbing Common Noun' style of title?
March 20, 2009 3:57 PM   Subscribe

What was the first movie to use the Verbing Common Noun style of title? You know - Chasing Amy, Raising Arizona, Feeling Minnesota, Being Julia...
posted by obiwanwasabi to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: And, of, course, I meant PROPER NOUN. Frickin' idiot.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:58 PM on March 20, 2009

Earliest I can find: Avenging Bill, 1915.
posted by sen at 4:01 PM on March 20, 2009

There is also D.W. Griffith's Eradicating Aunty, from 1909.
posted by notquitemaryann at 4:11 PM on March 20, 2009

This list, though it doesn't explicitly claim to be comprehensive, backs up notquitemaryann's claim.
posted by ORthey at 4:18 PM on March 20, 2009

Is "common noun" allowed to more specifically be "article noun"?

If so, perhaps Thomas Edison's 1903 magnum opus Electrocuting an Elephant.
posted by Flunkie at 4:29 PM on March 20, 2009

Oh, proper noun. Sorry.
posted by Flunkie at 4:29 PM on March 20, 2009

So close!
posted by Flunkie at 4:32 PM on March 20, 2009

Plauging Grandpa, 1897.

"A mischievous little girl tickling her poor old grandpa with a straw, while he is trying to read his evening paper."
posted by Flunkie at 4:56 PM on March 20, 2009

Shouldn't it be "Gerund/Proper Noun"? I have never heard of "Verbing."
Am I "Missing Something"?
posted by emhutchinson at 8:05 PM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

IANA english teacher, but "Verbing" is a newer slang term I've heard used in reference to "Verbing a noun" -- "Googling" from "Google," etc. I think in this case "Gerund Proper Noun" is probably the more correct form (at least until someone makes Googling Jerry, or something like it), but "Verbing Proper Noun" scans more like the class of titles it is intended to summarize.
posted by Alterscape at 8:29 PM on March 20, 2009

I guess "gerund" is the technically correct term, but I'm sure a lot more people knew what the OP meant by "verbing" than they would have with "gerund." Maybe "verb"-ing or (blank)-ing would've been better?

I was curious when this trend really started taking off since it seems so common now, but I guess it was somewhere in the late '90s based on that list (which only goes to '03), with Chasing Amy ('97) and Saving Private Ryan ('98) in particular. Most of those titles are fairly obscure, but the trend really takes off from '99 on.

I've always found it to be a rather annoying title scheme that strikes me as kind of pretentious for whatever reason, unless it's based on a familiar expression, like "Raising Cain."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:14 PM on March 20, 2009

Or 'electrocuting an elephant.'
posted by box at 3:24 AM on March 21, 2009

Are you asking "which was the first gerund-proper noun title?" or "in the timeframe in which this form of title became a cliché, what set off the trend?". I like the second question better so I'm going to put in my vote for "Eating Raoul". It was a relatively low-budget film which got a lot of attention, and some of that was surely due to the wtf-ness of its title, which then probably drew a connection in the minds of film marketers between gerund-proper noun and "stickiness" (also gerund-proper noun and indie realness. IMO the construction is often used to connote some sort of emotionally-layered shades-of-gray "this isn't some dumb hollywood thing" bullshit, with the exception of "Raising Arizona", which those other movies should anoint their king).
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 4:24 AM on March 21, 2009

Shouldn't it be "Gerund/Proper Noun"? I have never heard of "Verbing."
Am I "Missing Something"?

Verbing weirds language.
posted by secret about box at 7:13 AM on March 21, 2009

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