Re: RARA-AVIS: Titles & Pianists

From: Robert Jaffe (
Date: 20 May 2000

If MY memory serves, the title was indeed "Don't Shoot the Piano Player," which was taken from a late-nineteenth century catchphrase that went: "Don't Shoot the Piano Player, He is Doing His Best." I believe this was considered witty at the time and showed up on small signs hung in western barrooms, among other places, similar to the "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" signs that were found in stores. Of course, my memory could be influenced by a lifetime of watching westerns.


Bob wrote:

> Last weekend I saw the musical "Lautrec" in London which features music and
> lyrics by Charles Aznavour. Reading his bio in the program I was surprised
> to see among his movie credits the title "Don't Shoot the Pianist." While
> the copy of the novel I have back in the US is the original DOWN THERE and it
> has been twenty years since I saw the movie, I remember the movie title as
> "Shoot the Piano Player."
> Thinking this was mildly amusing I mentioned it to three friends (one each:
> Belgium, English, American) here in Brussels and to my surprise all
> remembered "Don't" in the movie title. The only reference book I have with
> me here is a battered copy of HALLIWELL'S FILMGOERS COMPANION and the
> relevent entries have the title "Shoot the Pianist."
> I can imagine that the American release of the movie used "piano player" as
> "pianist" carries the image of a concert performer and that may not be the
> case for "pianist" in Europe. Halliwell sometimes gives the US title and
> other times not. One of the many frustrations I have always found with his
> book.
> Can anyone out there run through the title history for me? I think the
> theater program is simply wrong and all three of my friends have worse
> memories than I do.
> No bar bets are at stake. I'm not that confident of my memory.
> Richard Moore
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