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I'm trying to translate this sentence: (said in a TV studio inside a movie: Ice castles - 1978 if it could help)

"Did you see his face when they missed that film cue?"

Some sentences later there are few more times the word "cue" appears, which are:

  • "Raven, we've got to pick up the cue after that third spot, thank you".
  • "Am I going to have that cue right for tonight?"

From the last two sentences I'd be tempted to translate this as "signal" but I can't get the meaning of "missing the film signal".

What would be the actual meaning of film cue? Thanks in advance!

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I'm not sure I agree with your analysis.

"Cue" in the film or theatrical sense is as Michael says: "To give a signal - either a waved hand, a flashing light, a specific event (The knight getting his head chopped off...), or a verbal command from the Director or an actor for something specifically mentioned in the script to happen.

For example: "Order in the Rollerskating vicar!", as it appears towards the end of the Monty Python's Flying Circus Court Marshal Sketch.

This line in the script: "Order in the rollerskating vicar!" is the specific cue for the actor that is the vicar, who is waiting off-camera for his 'Cue', to enter the scene... As he does.

I think this demonstrates the meaning exactly. It's also a good use of 5-minutes of your time as this is a 'Classic' Python.

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In theatres or movie and TV studios, a cue is a signal to perform an action. Cues may be explicit, (somebody off-stage or out of the camera's view gives a visual signal, e.g. a wave, a nod, etc) or implicit (a certain place in the script). A film cue may have been a cue in a TV studio to play a piece of movie film (to be broadcast as part of the show).

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In context of the movie, this line is transitional; the context leading up to it is missing, and the audience begins observing the characters already engaged in a conversation. It would seem that "film cue" is the point in a film, or pre-recorded material, being broadcast at which the broadcast was to be started or continued after a news story or commercial because the second use of cue ("Raven, we've got to pick up the cue after that third spot, thank you".) refers to the "third spot", where spot could be the third commercial or third item covered in the news."

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