Show Girl in Hollywood Poster (1930)
Meaning: ‘get to the point’.
This expression originated in the US film industry. Many early silent films used to end in chase sequences, and the first reference to the expression dates back to that era as a screen direction from Joseph Patrick McEvoy’s novel ‘Show Girl in Hollywood’, written in 1930:
“Jannings escapes... cut to chase”.
Of course, a single line in a script direction does not automatically become a phrase that is part of the language, and we can be fairly sure that McEvoy wasn’t the source of the figurative use of the phrase as it is used today. In fact, the ‘get to the point’ meaning emerged in February 1947, when the New England newspaper – The Berkshire Evening Eagle – printed the following:
“Let’s cut to the chase. There will be no tax relief this year”.