Potente phone callConfession time:  I have a wee fetish.  It's not so terrible, not shameful at all, really, but a fetish it is. " /> Potente phone callConfession time:  I have a wee fetish.  It's not so terrible, not shameful at all, really, but a fetish it is. " /> Potente phone callConfession time:  I have a wee fetish.  It's not so terrible, not shameful at all, really, but a fetish it is. " />

“If you’re there, pick up”

Confession time:  I have a wee fetish.  It’s not so terrible, not shameful at all, really, but a fetish it is.  I collect pictures of movie characters talking on the telephone.  Specifically women.  I don’t know how this obsession came over me, but once I obtained the software that allowed me to “grab” still frames from movies, I began to collect shots of film actresses on the phone.  Rotary phones, cell phones, pay phones… it doesn’t matter.  As the kids say nowadays, it’s all good.

StanwyckIt’s hard to explain the attraction.  Maybe it all began with Sorry Wrong Number (1948), the film noir classic in which bedridden Barbara Stanwyck finds herself marked for murder via a crossed connection on her princess phone.  There’s something about the telephone that compresses the physical world into a thin line between speaker and listener, charging the air, eroticizing the distance as a latticework of whispers and sighs, of gutteral monosyllables and declarative shouts.  Telephone scenes, so often shot in extreme close-up, shorten the gap between movie subject and movie-goer, drawing us into the narrative, making us a part of the story.  Remember Janet Leigh in Touch of Evil (1958), clad in virginal white lingerie and stuck in that Mexicali roachtrap, connected to esposo Charlton Heston only via the telephone, her calls growing more and more desperate and breathy?  Remember that great scene in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed get all hot for each other while on the phone with Sam Albertson?  Hee-haw indeed!

Janet LeighFor all that cellphones take away from suspense movies nowadays, either providing too neat a resolution or conspicuous in their absence, they do at least give actresses more time on the phone — which for someone with a fetish such as mine isn’t a terrible thing.  I’ve recently learned that I’m not the only one obsessed by this kind of thing.  There’s a whole website devoted to noted personalities, politicos and film and television characters gabbing away on the telephone… and if you don’t believe me, check out Celebrities With Phones sometime.

First cell phoneI no longer seriously pursue my collection.  A hard drive crash on my last computer wiped out my stash and maybe that’s for the best.  Onward and upward, as they say… but it doesn’t stop me from appreciating a good phone scene when I run across it.  Or stop me from wondering how it all got started for me.  Maybe it’s buried deep in my childhood, as these things tend to me.  Maybe the truth could be, as in Citizen Kane (1940), reduced to a single image.  Maybe it has something to do with my Mother.  Which reminds me.  I should call her.

10 Responses “If you’re there, pick up”
Posted By MDR : December 29, 2006 1:40 pm

LMAO, if I'm not mistaken, that's the phone – the Fisher Price toy like the one we had that used to change the channels on our audio-controlled Zenith (per my "Thanksgiving lost" blog entry).  Great article, btw and Happy New Year!

Posted By MDR : December 29, 2006 1:40 pm

LMAO, if I'm not mistaken, that's the phone – the Fisher Price toy like the one we had that used to change the channels on our audio-controlled Zenith (per my "Thanksgiving lost" blog entry).  Great article, btw and Happy New Year!

Posted By MDR : December 29, 2006 1:52 pm

LMAO, if I'm not mistaken, that's the phone – the same kind of Fisher Price toy that we used to fiendishly change the channel on our old audio-remote-controlled Zenith as kids (which I referred to in my "Thanksgiving lost" entry).  Great article, btw and Happy New Year to you!

Posted By MDR : December 29, 2006 1:52 pm

LMAO, if I'm not mistaken, that's the phone – the same kind of Fisher Price toy that we used to fiendishly change the channel on our old audio-remote-controlled Zenith as kids (which I referred to in my "Thanksgiving lost" entry).  Great article, btw and Happy New Year to you!

Posted By Your Humble Servant : December 29, 2006 7:43 pm

Can I just say that THAT was just a brilliant piece of writing. You had me at "phone scenes." You didn't have to get into your childhood and your mother, you brilliant S.O.B. Can I just say that the most brilliant pre-cell phone scene movie is the incredibly sexy "Choose Me" by Alan Rudolph? And did he get a mention when Robert Altman died? I DON'T THINK SO! Probably his most important protege ever hardly got mentioned in the major trades. Somebody please honor this guy. Criterion? Sundance? Telluride? IFC?…..whoops, I mean Turner Classic Movies?

Posted By Your Humble Servant : December 29, 2006 7:43 pm

Can I just say that THAT was just a brilliant piece of writing. You had me at "phone scenes." You didn't have to get into your childhood and your mother, you brilliant S.O.B. Can I just say that the most brilliant pre-cell phone scene movie is the incredibly sexy "Choose Me" by Alan Rudolph? And did he get a mention when Robert Altman died? I DON'T THINK SO! Probably his most important protege ever hardly got mentioned in the major trades. Somebody please honor this guy. Criterion? Sundance? Telluride? IFC?…..whoops, I mean Turner Classic Movies?

Posted By Zontar : January 2, 2007 3:50 pm

I got an email subject-lined "I have a Wee Fetish" and jumped right over.  Please excuse my confusion (and disappointment).

Posted By Zontar : January 2, 2007 3:50 pm

I got an email subject-lined "I have a Wee Fetish" and jumped right over.  Please excuse my confusion (and disappointment).

Posted By Bob : March 18, 2007 12:57 pm

What?  No reference to Madeline Kahn talking to Mel Brooks on the phone in High Anxiety?  That has to be the greatest telephone sequence in movie history.  (Grace Kelley on the phone with Ray Milland has to be way up there too!)

Posted By Bob : March 18, 2007 12:57 pm

What?  No reference to Madeline Kahn talking to Mel Brooks on the phone in High Anxiety?  That has to be the greatest telephone sequence in movie history.  (Grace Kelley on the phone with Ray Milland has to be way up there too!)

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