A MacGuffin isn’t the name of a breakfast sandwich, but it could be — that is, if a movie involves characters trying to get that sandwich. The MacGuffin, also spelled McGuffin or maguffin, is any object in a film that drives the story forward, like the secret papers or the stolen necklace. Alfred Hitchcock made the MacGuffin famous, and explained it this way in a 1939 lecture at Columbia University: “It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is always the necklace and in spy stories it is always the papers. We just try to be a little more original.” This is part of a complete episode.
- Up Your Alley (episode #1504) 07/30/2018: Book recommendations, including a collection of short stories inspired by dictionaries, and a techno-thriller for teens. Or, how about novels with an upbeat message? Publishers... [more]
- Piping Hot (episode #1503) 07/23/2018: The game of baseball has alway inspired colorful commentary. Sometimes that means using familiar words in unfamiliar ways. The word stuff, for example, can refer... [more]
- Mimeographs and Dittos (episode #1502) 06/24/2018: In this episode: How colors got their names, and a strange way to write. The terms blue and orange arrived in English via French, so... [more]
- Spicy Jambalaya 06/18/2018: Teen slang from the South, and food words that are tricky to pronounce. • High schoolers in Huntsville, Alabama, told Martha and Grant about their... [more]
- Chopped Liver 06/10/2018: There's a proverb that goes "beloved children have many names." At least, that's true when it comes to the names we give our pets. "Fluffy"... [more]