Titles that don’t seem to belong to the work

I thought about this when I recently saw the movie Trainspotting and didn’t spot any trains. Another movie example would be Reservoir Dogs. The book version of A Clockwork Orange makes connection with the title, but I don’t think the movie does.

Can you think of any books, movies, songs, etc. with a title that isn’t mentioned within the work and doesn’t describe it?

Just so you know, I started out to name this thread “Toothpaste Dancers”.

As I’ve mentioned in another thread, there is a special class of film where they manufacture another reason for the title (or overemphasize one reason, excluding all others) because the movie doesn’t make it clear.
The film version of Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis actually adds a card game to make the title plausible, but it’s not the reason the book has that title. The Color Purple has Whoopi Goldberg’s voice-over giving a reason near the end, but it’s a mere fraction of the reason the book has that title. I’m convinced the 1960’s Doris Day film Please Don’t Eat the Daisies threw in a song with “Don’t Eat the Daisies” in it so that people wouldn’t ask where the title came from.

Lots of films have non-obvious titles. The winner, to me, is the film Sorceror, a remake of the French film The Wages of Fear. I didn’t understand that title for years (given the visuals seen in the trailer, and the time period, I would’ve guessed it was some Carlos Castaneda-type film, instead of a thriller about transporting nitroglycerine through jungles), until someone on this Board explained that it’s the name of one of the trucks.

The Last King of Scotland has nothing to do with Scotland. Yes, I know where the title comes from. But it’s confusing as hell if you’re unfamiliar with the work.

Blade Runner. The title makes sense for William Burroughs’ Blade Runner: A Film, which was not a film, but a cut-up of Alan E. Nourse’s schlock novel, in which surgical tools have to be smuggled because the medical trade has been outlawed.

At least they didn’t call it Do Androids Dream of Origami Unicorns?. :slight_smile:

Good one. In the book version, one of the kids (or was it the dog) does actually eat some daisies!

I’m sure there are some Led Zeppelin songs that would fit this thread.

I never understood how the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? was named.

That was the title of the film the title character was working on in the film Sullivan’s Travels, although I don’t recall anything in O, Brother… that clues you in to that.
As I’ve said in two previous threads, if you take out the “r” in “Brother” it sounds like a film about Winnie the Pooh playing Hide and Seek with Quakers.

Baba O’Riley by The Who

Almost any song title from Nirvana or Pearl Jam.

Or early Smashing Pumpkins

For the viewers at home:

“Trainspotting” is the hobby of watching trains go by. This is a stupid and boring hobby, as is heroin.

“Reservoir Dogs” is unexplained, and Tarantino usually says that it’s up to the viewer to decide what it means.

“A Clockwork Orange”, in the book, someone is described as “queer as a clockwork orange”. Alex, like clockwork, has been programmed for ultraviolence by his upbringing, and then gets reprogrammed to be repulsed by violence.

He explained it once but it still has nothing to do with the plot.

From the IMDB page:

"The title for the film came to Quentin Tarantino via a patron at the now-famous Video Archives. While working there, Tarantino would often recommend little-known titles to customers, and when he suggested Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987), the patron mockingly replied, “I don’t want to see no reservoir dogs!” The title is never spoken in the film, however. "

Cave Dwellers.

Burgess wrote (in the afterword to the old addition I read, I think) that the phrase appealed to him as suggestive of something that had the appearance of idealized nature, but was actually an unnatural artifact.

Eco’s The Name of the Rose is a strong contender here. The copy I read had an afterword by the author suggesting a few possible explanations, but I don’t think even he was clear on why he chose that title.

“Vision Quest”, the Matthew Modine wrestling movie.

Grateful Dead have several songs that fit, including Wharf Rat, The Other One and Greatest Story Ever Told…

It’s explained right in the first paragraph of the link.

“It Happened One Night,” the Clark Gable/Claudette Colbert movie is great, but I have no idea what it is and which night it happened on. The movie takes place over a week or so, IIRC.

Worse: It’s a reference to trainspotting at a station where no trains have run in decades. From the Wikipedia entry for the novel:

(Emphasis mine.) Definitely plays up the theme of pointlessness. I don’t know if the scene is in the movie.

The 2007 version of “I am Legend” never delves into the Doctor’s status among the mutants. The movie is totally unrelated to the title.