"The phone is a remarkably complex, simple device,
and very rarely ever needs repairs, once you fix them." - Dan/Panther

Main Menu

The CRPF "Old Phones in Movies & TV" Compilation

Started by HobieSport, November 23, 2008, 01:45:19 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


I can't watch movies the same way anymore.  Especially film noir thrillers and mid-century period pieces. I find myself paying more attention to the design lines of the telephones instead of paying attention to the riveting plot lines.  

Watching a movie the other night and noticed the poor and decent "good girl" character was using a beat up old 302, while the evil murderous rich Femme Fatale had a chrome trimmed colored AE40 that matched her curtains.

I find myself talking to the screen telling Bogart and Bacall to stand the heck more off-frame so I can see the phone better.  I'm telling you folks; it's a disease... ;D


I do the same thing with phones and radios, too.  Some of the best "phone watching" movies are Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies from the 1930s.  They're filled with great telephones, mainly AE and Kellogg, and they're usually colored. 

I was watching a movie a while back (I think it was The Mad Miss Manton) that showed a Kellogg Masterphone (the oval manual one) that was chrome plated.  Really beautiful.  Miss Manton had an ivory D1/E1 202 in her apartment.


I'm glad that I'm not the only one.  Just the other day I was watching the movie "Where The Sidewalk Ends".  Starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney.  That movie is a good example of gritty New York black and white angular "film noir" cinematography and neon signs and brickwork.  Telephones where involved, mostly black AE40s is my guess, but they might be Kellogs or Strothbergs-Carlsons.


We were watching a thing on Carol Burnett on PBS last night, and they showed a lot of old clips of her stuff.  One scene from the late 50's, in black and white as well, had her yank the handset up on a 500 and talk into it.  When she yanked it up the handset cord came right out of the phone, which while being pretty funny as it looked like a flub, was also interesting to me as I could see that the cord had the really early little wire relief strain and very short wire ends, so it must have been a very early 500 with either the separate equalizer or the handset cord terminal block right by where the cord enters the body. 

In a moment of relational savvy I did not bother to mention that I'd noticed any of this to the missus. 


Sometimes when I watch old movies or TV shows, I notice the strain relief on some phones is pulled RIGHT OUT of the handset and it's clearly not being held in by the transmitter capsule holder.  I wonder if the phones acquired by TV/Movie studios didn't have some of the inner working parts.  Another funny things is when the ringer doesn't match the phone.  You hear a loud "500" ring, and then they go pick up their Trimline or Princess phone, which was a single gong ringer, not the two-note gongs of the 500'.  Also movies that take place in the 50's or early 60's and they're using modular phones.

Am I over-analyzing this????  I guess that's why we're here!
Jim H.


One thing I find interesting is that movies seem to show how long older models were in common use.  In movies from the 1950s that show a lot of phones, like Pat and Mike with Tracy & Hepburn, you see lots of 302s, 202s, and even candlesticks.  That's an indication that such old phones were in common use well past the time they would have been considered "new." 

Another "old" phone that oddly seemed to be in common use in the 1950s was the separate receiver/transmitter pay phone.  That one's almost always seen in movies, rather than a pay phone with a handset. 


I too have noticed that at a certain point in TV and movies all phones had the ring of the 500s.  This continued well into the 80s, even on a Magnum PI the other night the obvious mid 80's cordless one guy had rang like a 500.  Purty interesting.

And I concur about noticing that in old movies, especially stuff from the 50's and 60's, you will see a lot of older phones, candlesticks, 102s, 202s, 302s and AE stuff, in common usage still.  My 354 was in use at least until the 70's in this house, and maybe longer, so that was 20 years and I'm sure that was an easy mark for the old phones to reach back in the old days.  Of course now the 354 is 57 years old and still works just fine. 

We watch a fair amount of British TV, especially murder mysteries and such, most of it new production shows, and I'm often seeing old rotary GPO 700s in scenes set in old homes or shops.  Maybe they are still in common enough use to be that obvious, or maybe the set directors are adding them to get atmosphere. 


You don't see telephones used as weapons as much anymore.

Although not a true old movie, there was that memorable double entendre from Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid parodying Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not:

If you need me, just call. You know how to dial, don't you? You just put your finger in the hole and make tiny little circles.  :o
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409


Funny, I'm watching the Godfather. I noticed just after the Godfather is shot, and Sonny takes a call from one of the gangsters in the kitchen. He's using a B1 mount with an E1 handset(no dial, has a dial blank). If you watch carefully, at the right angle you can clearly see there's no transmitter in the handset. But it has the outside cap and spitcup. You can see the alloy base through the spitcup. Must be one of those string phones we built as kids ;D

St Clair Shores, MI


Quote from: Sargeguy on November 26, 2008, 09:38:21 PM
You don't see telephones used as weapons as much anymore.

The Stooges sure made good use of telephones as weapons :D

St Clair Shores, MI


I came across a little web page of photos of phones in movies and with "celebrities".  I couldn't resist but to snag a few, rework them in Photoshop, and add a few captions.  Apologies for the multiple posting technique here, but I don't know how to ad captions to individual pictures without using off-forum photo links, and those don't always work...

GROUCHO:  "Put the telephone DOWN sir and step away from the DESK!"



ZEPPO (?):  "Quiet Please!  We're testing for side tone!"


CARY:  "...and I'm telling YOU sir, that this is a GENUINE matching dates WE302!"

MAN:  "You can't fool ME young fellow, that's a FRANKENPHONE if I ever saw one!"


CARY:  "Hey Doll!  You won't BELIEVE how high those suckers on Ebay are going for this fake candlestick!"

DOLL: "That's great, Babe!  Wonder how high we can stick them with this lousy old typewriter!"


DONNA:  "OH YES Margery, we just got our NEW TELEPHONE installed TODAY!"

JIMMY:  "Wull...Wull...Wull...I can't wait for the PHONE BILL TOMORROW.  There goes my wonderful life..."