Monday, April 28, 2014

THE TELEPHONE BOOK (1971) - Nelson Lyon

A perfect midnight movie if there ever was one, The Telephone Book plays like an inspired snippet of men's room urinal graffiti stretched into a feature-length movie. If that sounds like a slam, it's not. The hodge-podge approach works.

A Goldie Hawn Laugh-In era lookalike (Sarah Kennedy) receives an anonymous dirty phone call that sends her into exalted states of aural/physical arousal and, eventually, on a cross-city quest to track down the exact "Mr. Smith" who made the call. Turns out, he's more than just your garden variety male chauvinistic pig getting his kicks by way of payphone pranks. He's something more of an artisan of the trade...and something closer to an actual pig.

Monologues by random talking heads delivered directly to camera (some guy who rolls his boogers into pocket sculpture, William Hickey with an undying bedsheet boner) are interspersed with close-ups of heavy-breathing mouths making obscene phone calls, Andy Warhol Factory types (Ondine, Ultra Violet) crack whips followed by occasional R. Crumb style animated sequences that run for nearly ten minutes. If it all sounds and little crazy and more than a little culty, then, yes, you're absolutely right. It's that type of film.

But what do you expect from the former SNL writer who supposedly matched John Belushi bump for bump on his very last (and unfortunately fatal) drug bender? It's called The Telephone Book not The Book Thief, y'all. It's fun, if a little dated, though not as dated as the useless two-ton directories they still leave on my Brooklyn doorstep for some inexplicable reason every year.

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