Here is a notorious mistranslation from Latin:
Leges Romanorum bonae erant. The legs of the Romans were bony.
In the 1963 movie Cleopatra, there is a scene where Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) is being deified. All others present in the throne room kneel. Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) complains, and Cleopatra kicks a pillow towards him to cushion the hard floor. At the same time she says: “You have such bony knees.”
I suspect that some scriptwriter knew of the mistranslation and put “You have such bony legs” in the dialogue as an inside joke. Then someone else ruined the pun by changing “legs” to “knees”.
(Surprisingly, this doesn’t appear in the IMDB trivia/errors for the movie.)
Any other movie obscure puns you’ve noticed?
There’s an oldie with Bob Hope as his usual hapless self and a scheming, conniving woman who’s using him - don’t recall which movie. At one point, in a moment of despair, he says to her (or words to this effect) “I’ve acted like a dog, and you’ve been like a mother to me.”
Subtle, but it cracked me up.
I kinda doubt it since the only online reference to " Leges Romanorum bonae erant" is this thread.
LOST: TWO YEARS-LIBERAL REWARD on JSTOR
(On the pointlessness of high school Latin)
“The Classical Outlook”, October 1952
That’s good. That’s damn good. I always love insults that make the insultee think for a bit before they realize they’ve been zinged.
That’s a great line! Which movie was it??
Honestly, I don’t recall. It’s been years since I saw it.
I’ve never seen it in a movie, but I sometimes say “Sick Transit is the Glory of the World”. Especially when 'm fed up with Boston’s T.
Not from movies, but still punning on latin phrases
Peter Schickele had a song by “P.D.Q. Bach” that had a line about “Agnes and her sister Doris Day”, clearly a pun on Agnus dei
A British newspaper called one year “A Bum Year”, after Elizabeth II declared it an annus horribilis
Along the same lines, Goldie Hawn’s character in Foul Play is named Gloria Mundy.
“Sic transit gloria mundi"
There’s a lot of playing around with classical latin phrases in the Asterix books (or at least in the British translations of them), but I can’t think of any examples offhand.
One sort-of example that I love is in Asterix in Britain. The Romans are trying to locate the barrel of magic potion among a huge numbers of similar barrels, and so they are reduced to broaching and tasting a sample from each. Predictably, this deteriorates rapidly as the soldiers get drunk. Eventually you have a room full of them going “hic” – "hic’ – “hic”.
You’d have to have a heart of stone, or no sense of humor, to avoid turning three of these into “hic” - “haec” - “hoc”, which is just what they did in the British translation. Oddly enough, the French original DOESN’T have this obvious pun. why not?
For those of you who didn’t take Latin 101:
The last episode of the 1976 miniseries “I,Claudius” has the emperor Claudius telling the Senate that while we will be all gone eventually, someday the man who sits by the pool will open graves and will will live again.
Series written by Jack Pulman based on two novels by Robert Graves.
My theory is that Latin isn’t taught that way to native French speakers.
There was a terrible Frank Sinatra biopic or TV series or something (can’t remember it exactly) where at one stage Sinatra’s mother calls him ‘a son of a bitch’.
Also Bob Hope: the song “Road to Morocco” says: “Like Webster’s dictionary, we’re morocco-bound”.
I often point out the Oscar-winning Film “Black and White in Color.” The French title is Noirs et Blancs en couleur, which was directly translated into the English one. But in France, it’s a pun on “Noirs et Blancs en Colère” – “Blacks and Whites Angry” – appropriate for a war film.
Here’s one where I think the punchline got left on the editing room floor, but the setup (or at least, parts of it) was still there: In one of the Shrek sequels, Julie Andrews voices the Queen, and there’s a scene where they’re at a restaurant, and she orders cauliflower cheese. And that’s all that’s in the movie. But prior to the movie, there was a joke that was making the rounds with the punchline “Super cauliflower cheese, but eggs were quite atrocious”.