I spent much of my Thanksgiving break at my parents’ home, channel-surfing on the crummy TV in the upstairs den. (Watching the Packers win in the afternoon and, later on, catching the last five hours of a Ghost Hunters mini-marathon — really, does it get any better than that?) Anyway, sometime during the 18th hour of my sofa vigil, I saw a promo for Tin Man (a re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz, premiering Dec. 2 on SciFi) and two thoughts immediately crossed my mind. The first: Is that Zooey Deschanel playing a modern-day Dorothy Gale? (It is.) The second: “Tin” seems to the metal of choice when it comes to film titles.
Off the top of my head, I could name Tin Cup (an okay movie that seemed better the second time around — and became unwatchable on subsequent viewings), Tin Men (I’ve seen only bits and pieces), Pushing Tin (arguably the best movie ever made about air-traffic controllers), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Liz Taylor? Yowza!). And, of course, Steven Spielberg’s planned big-screen adaptation of Tintin.
But an IMDb search revealed a veritable mother lode of “tin” movies. Like Tin Angel (1994), Tin Box (1992), Tin Toy (1988), The Tin Star (1957) and no less than three different versions of the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Tin Soldier (’95, ’92, and ’86). There was an early short called Stamping Tin that came out in 1901. A few decades later there was a deluge of “Tin” titles (the Golden Age of Tin, as it were), which includes: Tin Can Rattle (1912), Tin Bronco (1922), Tin Foiled (1922), Tin Gods (1922 and ’36), Tin Hoss (1925), Tin Hats (1926), The Tin Bronc (1926), and Tin Pants (1934). And that’s not including the numerous retellings of Tin Pan Alley, and the sundry adventures of Rin Tin Tin.
My hunch was right: Hollywood likes “tin.” So, who’s seen all four of most popular examples of “tin” films? And to really test your film-history
metal mettle, has anyone ever seen any of these pre-war movies?