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Telephones in the Movies and on TV

Pick a drama or detective story set from the turn of the century thru mid-century and it's bound to have interesting old phones prominently featured.  Here are some favorites.

2002-20 paulf.  All rights reserved.

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Movie or TV Show
Phones to look for
Some Like it Hot (1959)
Candlesticks, WE 1002 Handsets (on Osgood's yacht)
The President's Analyst (1967)
Description of the "Cerebrum Communicator", a phone that was to be implanted directly into the brain so you could just think the number and be connected!
(It doesn't seem as far-fetched now as it did then!)

Cerebrum Communicator

Great spoof on the power of "TPC" (The Phone Company).  The spies seemed to think TPC was more powerful than the superpower countries.
This is really a "MUST SEE!" (Last 10 minutes of movie -- be patient!)
If you want some highlights and photos, click here .

Wonder if the US Government antitrust staff watched this while deciding what to do with AT&T in the 70s and 80s.
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
More 10-button TouchTone sets than I've seen in one place.
Desk sets (1500 and 5-line 1565), Call Directors and a rare Card Dialer (1661?).

Fantasy videophone, consisting of a large flush-mounted wall monitor with a camera above and 10-button keypad below.  Look fast and freeze the frame!
Fantasy 10-button wall

At one point a poor 1500 was thrown through a video monitor.
Bet it was refurbed and put back out in service.
Perry Mason
TV Series
Full range of Western Electric gear from candlesticks to 500s, Car Phones,
Switchboards in offices and rooming houses (as Paul Drake interrogates the operators),
Kellogg, Dictaphone and Rauland Office Intercoms.

Amplicall on Perry
                      Mason's desk
 The Rauland Amplicall was on Perry's desk during the first season. ( See photos.)

Overheard: Della's work number -- HOllywood 2-1799
It Takes A Thief
TV Series
Similar to Perry Mason, phones appear as supporting actors. 
A green 1565 (10-button dial keyset) appeared in one episocde.
Star Trek TV Pilot
"The Cage"
(repeated in
"The Menagerie")
The controls in the situation room on the Enterprise are made from a Rauland Amplicall 24-line control unit -- painted to match the console.
The Bells are Ringing (1960)
Switchboard at the answering service
The Thin Man (1934)

After the Thin Man (1936)

Another Thin Man (1939)


WE B1E1 in The Thin Man

But the phones were new then!
There are B1s, AEs, payphones and candlesticks.
A candlestick receiver is used as a club in "After the Thin Man".

Wrong is Right (1982)
Teleconcepts "Chromephone" sets (dial set in a chrome sphere) at each situation room  station.  Good cast, including Sean Connery, Robert Conrad, Katharine Ross, Leslie Nielsen and Dean Stockwell, but a tacky cold war plot.
Grand Hotel
AE Type 2 sets in cubicles used as "lobby phones" (rarely seen!)
Federal cradle phones (grab-a-phone style) used in guest rooms
Great shots of the multi-position hotel switchboard (over 8 positions)
The Front Page (1931)
Lots of "working" candlesticks.
It's interesting to see how they held and manipulated them.
One reporter applies antiseptic to his glass mouthpiece!
His Girl Friday
The remake of The Front Page also has lots of good old phones.
I've Got Your Number
Misadventures of two telephone repair men.  One romances a switchboard operator.
You Can't Take It
With You (1938)
Watch Jean Arthur answer a D1 with E1 handset with no hands!
Our Man Flint (1966)

In Like Flint
Strange "hot line" phone with a really obnoxious ring.
(Probably now available for cell phones!)

ZOWIE hot line phone

Hot Line on Ship
Click phone to hear it ring.
The Slender Thread
Dramatic scenes while tracing a phone call through an electromechanical switch.
Bugsy (1991)
Ivory manual WE302 in the restaurant
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
Loads of phones -- dial candlesticks, colored Monophones (desk and wall), spacesavers, pay phones, etc...
The 4D Man
Western Electric 320 or 520 hazardous environment set on the wall in the furnace room, 211s mounted on laboratory benches, guards with a portable Motorola "Handie Talkie" FM Radiophone.
Three Days of the Condor
Suspense.  Includes shots of a Crossbar trunk.
An Eye for An Eye
Chuck Norris and a Western Electric Celebrity (French-style Design Line set).
Cherry 2000
Lester's phone is a Telequest Flexx -- modified with an dummy antenna for "wireless" use.
Convicted (1950)
There's a Rauland Amplicall on the Warden's desk.
Here's a link to a web site featuring Celebrities on the Phone!

Phone in 'Female' 1933

"Female" -- 1933, MGM/UA

The phone is a tall art deco interpretation of a "French phone." The black rectangular base has 5 or 6 narrow horizontal light bands. There are similar bands on the transmitter and receiver covers.  In one scene, a similar handset appears on a taller, angular base.

The cradle doesn't appear to move when going off hook, so for many years I suspected it's a prop.

An alert site visitor, John W., informed me that the set...
"was made of wood.  I attended the infamous auction Kirk Kikorian held in the 70's.  There were rows of tables with props and costume pieces, and on close inspection, you could see the instrument was wood, painted flat black, with silver paint on raised wood detailing."


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2002-20 paulf.  All rights reserved.