The Talented Mr. X

I believe this snowclone was popularized by the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley, which was based on the 1955 book of the same name by Patricia Highsmith. It is possible that the book title popularized the form, but I do not have access to journalistic materials that would allow me to investigate this.

Mr. Xs include Roto, Damon, Minghella, Nolan, Barker, Paolo. Clearly the limitation on X here is simply that it be a proper name. X01 Mr. Ripley is talented, but also a thoroughly disconcerting and distasteful figure. Subsequent Mr. Xs need be nothing but talented in the positive sense. Two of the examples above [results from and Google] are direct references to the lead actor and the director of the film, The Talented Mr. Ripley, which I see as evidence that this snowclone is still strongly tied to its source.

“The not-so-talented Mr. X” is also a possibility. Negation of this sort is permissible with many snowclones, which is to say, the original source is still recognizable even when the phrase is negated.

1 I’m going to try to be consistent about using X0 to indicate the original form of the snowclone rather than writing out “the original form of the snowclone” from now on. Thanks to Emmanuel Dammerer for the term.
Side note: In case you’re wondering, I employ no heuristic other than my whim when choosing which snowclone to write about next. I’m working my way through the ones I’m most familiar with first, but not in any kind order.


2 responses to “The Talented Mr. X

  1. Speaking of movie titles into which different names are substituted, I’m constantly seeing headlines and titles that are some variation on “Mr. X Goes To Washington,” from the 1939 film “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” Here’s a selection from Google: Mr. Lessig, Mr. Bezos, Mr. Netenyahu, Mr. Firth, Mr. Aso…

  2. Could “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Roald Dahl be a precursor? Or The Amazing MR. X (1948 film noir)? Googling “The Amazing Mr.” gives lots of possilbe links…

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