Saturday, May 25, 2019

Movie Myths: The High Hat

When I first saw Miller's Crossing I was impressed by the level of research needed for proper slang, especially vulgarities which wouldn't have made it into period books and films.  A friend of mine clued me in: "They made it all up."

Recently I've run into a couple of places where people claim the Coen Brothers invented the phrase "Giving me the high hat".

High hat as a noun used to describe a snob dates back to 1889.  High hat meaning self important dates back to 1923.  High hatting as a verb dates back to around that time as well.

Even the specific phrase "giving me the high hat" (the usual quote, but which isn't in the scene above) was established slang.  A quick search in gives:

"Or don’t you remember giving me the high hat?" - The Golden Spike aka Reefer Boy by Hal Ellson, 1952

"What’s the idea of your giving me the high hat that way?" - The Sound of the Trumpet by Grace Livingston Hill, 1943

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