AKA Hot Number
“I said, anybody who makes dirty phone calls as a life’s project is a pretty weird person. So where am I going to get the kind of material that he would be speaking? He wouldn’t be speaking anything we know. He would be talking the kind of stuff that you see on men’s room walls. “–The Telephone Book lead animator Len Glasser on his inspiration for the final sequence
DIRECTED BY: Nelson Lyon
FEATURING: Sarah Kennedy, Norman Rose
PLOT: Oversexed Alice receives an obscene phone call and falls in love with the mellifluous caller, who reveals his name to be “John Smith” of Manhattan. She searches the telephone book to find him, encountering stag film producers, perverts and lesbian seductresses in her quest. When she finally tracks him down, they share the ultimate obscene phone call, whose orgasmic power is depicted symbolically as a crude, sexually explicit surrealist cartoon.
- “superstars” Ultra Violet and Ondine appear in small roles in the film. An “intermission” scene showing himself quietly eating popcorn was cut, and the footage lost. (Still photos of the scene do exist).
- Writer/director Nelson Lyon went on to write for “Saturday Night Live” in its earliest years, but his career ended after he was involved in an infamous speedball binge that ended with John Belushi’s fatal overdose.
- The film was a complete flop on release and quickly disappeared from circulation, preserved in rare bootlegs and only resurfacing as a curiosity in the new millennium.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: In the animated sequence visually expressing the ineffable ecstasy aroused by John Smith’s erotic patter, the bottom half of a gargantuan woman—with rivets in her thighs, suggesting she’s an automaton—squats on a skyscraper and pleasures herself, while a man whose entire head is a tongue watches her with drooling interest. Sights like that have a tendency to stick in the mind.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: “Superstar” pontificating over a nude; rotating pig-masked man; tongue-headed cartoon libertine
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: The last twenty minutes. Up until then, The Telephone Book is a mildly absurd pre-hardcore sexploitation comedy with art-scene pretensions; a long confessional monologue from a pig-masked pervert followed by a surreally obscene, obscenely surreal animated climax launch it into a different stratosphere of weirdness.
Original trailer for The Telephone Book
COMMENTS: The Telephone Book is a sex comedy dirty enough for Continue reading 264. THE TELEPHONE BOOK (1971)