“The Title Game” is based on a series of posts to the Word Games & Puzzles bulletin board in the online edition of Atlantic Monthly magazine in 1996. Although a number of persons participated in posting puzzles, the following collection of clues and answers are all of my own creation. All but a handful of those included here were actually posted (and not all of them were ever solved by others); however, a few new ones have been added.

The basic premise of the game is that the title of a (usually) well-known movie or TV show, past or present, is slightly altered, in one of three ways:
1) In “Add-a-Letter” clues, an extra letter is inserted at any point in the original title.
2) In “Drop-a-Letter” clues, some letter from the original title is left out.
3) In “Change-a-Letter” clues, one letter from the original title is changed to a different letter.
In any of the three types, the spacing of the words may be rearranged (see examples below).
Each clue is a description of what the plot (or some plot element) might be for the new, altered version—or perhaps is simply a description of the new title. Every clue is followed by a number, or set of numbers separated by commas, in parentheses. These numbers give the lengths of the words in the new version. For example, “(6,4)” would indicate a 6-letter word followed by a 4-letter word. “(2-6,9)” would represent a hyphenated word with two letters before the hyphen and six after, then a 9-letter word. Also, for movies only (as additional help since there are so many out there), the clue and word lengths are followed by the year of release and the initials of one or more leading cast members for the original film.

The clues are separated into categories not only by type of clue (add-, drop-, or change-a-letter) but also by the medium of the original (movie or TV). Obviously, some of the original titles exist in both media (or in some cases may be better known as stage productions). I have attempted to include each clue in the category, movie or TV, in which its prealtered version is better known.

Suppose that a movie entitled It’s a Dog’s Life was made in 1948, starring Soupy Sales and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Then an “add-a-letter” alteration might make it It’s a Doge’s Life. This might be clued “Experiences of a Venetian nobleman (3,1,5,4) ... 1948, SS,ZZG.” Or it might be included in “change-a-letter” movies (with word spacings rearranged) as It’s a Dog Slice and could be clued as “Canine cross-section (3,1,3,5) ... 1948,SS,ZZG.”

Numbering and ordering of clues
The clues within each category (e.g., “Drop-a-Letter TV”) are listed, and numbered, essentially in alphabetical order of their solutions (not of the clues themselves). (This is intended as another aid to solving.) There are exceptions to this. Frequently a clue number will include an “a.” and a “b.” clue, and sometimes more. A., b., c., etc. clues under the same number represent different alterations of the same original title. In the example from the previous paragraph, we might alter It’s a Dog’s Life to It’s a Dog Slice and also to It’s a Hog’s Life. Both would be “change-a-letter movies,” so they would be numbered, say, 5.a. and 5.b. in that category. As for alphabetizing, 5.a. and 5.b. would be alphabetized between themselves in order of their solutions (so the clue for ...Dog Slice would be a., and for ...Hog’s Life would be b.), but in the overall listing of “change-a-letter movies” the pair would be filed according to the “a.”-part solution only. As another example, we could have “add-a-letter” alterations giving It’s a Doge’s Life and also MIT’s a Dog’s Life. The clues for these would be listed as a. and b., respectively, of the same number, but the pair, as a unit, would then be filed alphabetically in the overall category under Inot under M. Note: Unlike the convention for most alphabetized lists, in titles beginning with articles such as “a,” “an,” and “the,” these articles are considered when alphabetizing: the clue for A Zebra would be listed under “A,” not under “Z.” One other point: in movie categories, in any multiple-part clue (i.e., one with an a., b., c., etc.), the additional information of year of release and initials of cast members follows the “a.” clue only, for obvious reasons.

In case you get desperate, there’s a list of solutions.

I hope you enjoy these.

Play the Title Game

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