I haven’t listened to the latest episode of Filmspotting yet, and before I do, I thought I’d try my hand at their Top 5 this week: Movie Phone Calls.
When brainstorming this topic, a lot of scenes came to mind. And I’m sure there are many great ones that I’m not even thinking about. (But that’s what Filmspotting is for, I guess.)
In the end, I decided to go more with personal favorites than with obvious or classic picks. I guess if I mulled this over for a few days I’d come up with some different choices, but then again there’s a reason that certain scenes immediately stood out to me.
My five favorite movie phone calls, along with a few honorable mentions (including one TV phone call that’s just too good not to mention), are:
(Note that where there are no YouTube embeds, the images link to the video.)
(Pierre Morel, 2008)
“Schindler’s List? Meet Schindler’s Fist!” David Edelstein wrote that about “Unknown,” but it fits much better to “Taken,” written by Luc Besson, where Liam Neeson shows once and for all that if you mess with him, he will find you. And kill you. And kick lots of ass on the way there. “Good luck,” indeed.
“When Harry Met Sally…”
(Rob Reiner, 1989)
Making its second showing in my Tops 5, Harry and Sally and Marie and Jess’s four-way phone call is a perfect example of the film’s tight, funny script and the comic expertise of its four leads.
(Sidney Lumet, 1964)
Fail-Safe had the great misfortune to come out in the shadows of Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove,” with which it shared its central plot device, but none of the tone. Instead of biting satire, Lumet’s film is is a jaw-clenching, suspenseful thriller. The stakes are as high as they can get (it’s the Cold War, after all) and Henry Fonda is at his very best as the President of the United States, on the phone with the Russian Premier.
(Steven Spielberg, 1993)
“Mr. Hammond, the phones are working.” That’s the whole phone call right there, and in my eyes, few are as iconic. In fact, to this day, after a phone ore Internet outage, it still is what I and a few friends (most notably Sarah) will say to each other.
(Cameron Crowe, 1989)
Not only is it a great scene from a great movie (that too few people in Germany have seen, I’m afraid), but it’s how I talk and act on the phone, so I knew it had to be my no. 1. Standing still or sitting around during a call? No way. I’m all over the map, just like John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler. It is, by far, my favorite movie phone call of all time.
But there are so many more! I already mentioned “Dr. Strangelove,” of course. Cameron-as-Mr.Peterson‘s call to Rooney’s office in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” almost made the list. “Die Hard: With a Vengeance” has some memorable phone calls, as do “Scream” and Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” I love the call from Fincher’s “Fight Club” (“This conversation… is over.”) and another Cameron Crowe movie, “Almost Famous” also has great phone scenes. And then there’s the movie “Phone Booth.” It’s been a while, but I do think I liked that one!
I debated whether the conversation between Kirk and Khan “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” would count. It sure is awesome.
For that quote alone, “The Shining” bears mentioning.
And finally, there’s this.