questionmarkIn the second Charlie’s Angels, where did the phrase “Kleinhardt gambit” come from?

– Duane
Mount Pleasant

Duane is referring to this scene, near the end of the movie:

EXT. HIGH ROOF – NIGHT

Madison finds herself alone on a high, empty roof. Reeling, confused. A giant, blinking “LOS ANGELES” SIGN flashes.

A single telescope has been set up near the edge. Madison walks to it. Leans down to the eyepiece.

HER P.O.V.

On a distant rooftop, all of her gangster clients are being arrested by the F.B.I.

CLOSE ON MADISON

as she looks up from the eyepiece. Furious, but smiling. She speaks to the only ones who could be behind this:

MADISON

The Kleinhardt Gambit. Classic. Well done.

WIDEN TO REVEAL the Angels, approaching behind her.

NATALIE

Thanks.

SMASHCUT to a series of FAST FLASHBACKS:

MUSSO AND FRANK’S. SNAP ZOOM TO THE COAT CHECK ROOM. THE COAT CHECKER IS NATALIE, WITH BLACK HAIR AND SLINKY BLACK DRESS.

ROOSEVELT HOTEL, BATHROOM. THE HISPANIC DOORMAN QUICKLY RIPS OFF HIS LATEX FACE, REVEALING DYLAN.

(Those last three are separate scene numbers, by the way.)

Here, the “Kleinhardt Gambit” refers to the way the angels sent Madison’s buyers to the wrong rooftop through elaborate misdirection. The telescope is apparently not a key part of the gambit, but rather just to piss off Madison.

The action is pretty standard for Charlie’s Angels (or Mission: Impossible), so it makes sense that a fallen angel would recognize how she was duped, and would have a term for it. The term itself is completely invented, a ridiculous neologism. And believe me, there wasn’t a lot of deep thought going into it. The first combination of syllables that seemed reasonable got typed.

Science fiction does this constantly. What’s a flux capacitor? How did Kirk prevail in the un-winnable Kobayashi Maru? What are midi-chlorians, and how can we pretend we never heard of them?

Don’t be afraid to invent terms you think would exist in your fictional world. Done just right, jargon helps ground characters in their setting, much the way medical-ese makes you think those pretty people on TV could actually be doctors.