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The CRPF "Old Phones in Movies & TV" Compilation

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

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I missed Bells Are Ringing. Those are some really nice phones - I like that guy's blue couch too.
"Ain't Worryin' 'Bout Nothin"


Bells Are Ringing will be on at 8pm July 27th (a week from today) on Turner Classic Movies.

Mark your calendars.


OK, are you ready for another phone-laden movie? It's The Glass Bottom Boat with Doris Day and Rod Taylor. This may be the all-time champ for phones. It's from 1966, but it has some phones from the 1950s and some from the 1960s, as you will see. I have this one on LaserDisc and remembered it had a lot of phones. It's a kooky movie, directed by Frank Tashlin, who directed lots of Merrie Melodies cartoons for Warner Brothers, and it has the same kind of pacing and gags. In fact, the kitchen in this movie uses something from his "House of Tomorrow" movie--the automatic vacuum cleaner. Anyway, on to the phones...

The first picture is Doris Day on a light beige payphone. She has to call her dog Vladimir because the only exercise he gets is running around when the phone rings.

The next picture, on the left, is a light gray 500 in Doris' very Colonial house. The dog is running around off screen. I'll post that in the dogs thread if any of you are interested.  ;)  The right side shows two light beige keysets at NASA, where Doris and Rod work. She's trying to hide and got caught.

Next we see Doris calling her pooch again. I think this is a real payphone at NASA. On the right is Dom DeLuise who's in one of Rod's many bedrooms after he fell into the pool. A light gray 500 is at the bedside.

Next we really get into the good phones. There's Edward Andrews on an aqua blue Princess in the blue bedroom. In the futuristic kitchen is a Bell System 750 silver panel phone. This is one of the very few appearances of a panel phone in a movie. No touch-tones in this movie, BTW. At the far right Doris is on a white Princess in the red bedroom, overhearing something awful.

I'll conclude in the next post, since I have 7 pictures to attach.


Part two of Glass Bottom Boat...

Here we see the villain of the movie on a light beige Call Director. To his right, Doris is in the powder room on a yellow 500 that looks to me like a soft plastic since it has a thick coil cord, but I can't tell for sure. It has a very raspy dial. She calls all these random numbers to try and make the people listening in think she's a spy giving out coded messages.

Next we see some of the hapless dopes she manages to reach with those random numbers. A man with a glass of beer sitting in front of his TV, with a black 500 straight line. Next, a woman in an apartment hallway (Florence Halop who later was on Night Court) on an old payphone. Next we see Rod in the living room on a red 500.

In the next picture is the rarest phone, on the left, a dark beige soft plastic 500 with dark gray cords. How'd that get in there? That's Paul Lynde standing behind Rod Taylor. In the middle is technically not a phone, it's the handset and cradle to a two-way radio Doris has to communicate with her dad, played by Arthur Godfrey. At right is the phone in the hall of her neighbors, played by the same man and woman who played Gladys and Abner Kravitz on Bewitched.

So not only are there lots of phones in this movie, there are lots of 1960's bit players too.

Dennis Markham

Thank you for that run-down Jonathan.  Some very nice phones.  I'll be glad to add the dark beige with dark gray cords to my collection.  Nice collage of photos.


There were a few "Doris Day" movies that would prove fun for phone spotters-- remember Pillow Talk?  As a sidenote, does anyone besides me remember those late seventies Bell System commercials where Edward Andrews plays the sharp CEO that thoroughly understands the value of WATS to his bottom line & customer service?


I admit that I have never seen either of the movies "Glass Bottom Boat" (with Dorris Day and Rod Taylor) nor the movie "Pillow Talk".

Now of course I want to see these movies, to see the phones with pretty women.

Thanks for mentioning these movies and posting the good pictures and descriptions.


I've seen Pillow Talk but can't find my LaserDisc of it at the moment and don't have it on DVD to capture. It has mostly ivory soft plastic from 1959 in both apartments and maybe a couple more like a black keyset in the office, but nothing outstanding. The movie is better than its phones, though, and the first part revolves around Doris trying to get a private line because the other party on her line (Rock Hudson) abuses it.


Great pics and lots of fun phones.  I've seen this movie once or twice back in the 70's but could not tell you anything of substance about it, so it will have to go on the rotation.


Here's another movie with several nice phones, and it's a bit more sinister. The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, from 1963, starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor and Jessica Tandy. It's another example of many of the phones being older than the movie.

The first picture illustrates twice what I call the "Tippi twist." She had a habit of taking the cord in her left hand and twirling it. I blame her for all those cords we find with kinks in the middle.  ;D  The left shot takes place in a pet store in San Francisco, and from the looks of it, it was a real pet store. The phone may have been a prop, though. It's a moss green 500 with gray cords. The right shot is from Annie Hayworth's house in Bodega Bay. It looks to be a soft plastic 500 in light gray, judging by the fat handset cord.

The next picture is from the store in Bodega Bay. It's a garden variety black 554. It looks like it has the smaller switchhook, but it's hard to tell since it's in the background.

The next picture is in the Brenner house. Jessica Tandy (you may remember her from Driving Miss Daisy) plays Mitch's mother. She's calling her neighbor to ask him about his chickens being off their feed. The phone is another moss green 500 with gray cords. At least it looks to be. The lamp casts a shadow on the cord, so it's hard to tell. Next to her skirt it looks dark gray to me.

In the fourth picture we have another black 554 with a small switchhook in her neighbor's house when she drops by to see him. Notice the broken cups. The Birds have invaded his house. The scenes following this are some of the best of the movie, where she sees her neighbor dead with his eyes pecked out and then goes running to her Ford truck so scared she can't talk. She drives the short way back home at full throttle.

Next is Tippi about to twist again, calling from The Tides Restaurant on a black 500.

The last picture takes place when the birds attack the town and there's a gas spill and resulting fire and a '55 Buick coming at her. Tippi ducks into a phone booth where we can plainly see the 1950s payphone with an F1 handset, and I think twirling the cord is the last thing on her mind.

I hope you enjoyed the phones from The Birds. If you haven't seen it, and can stand a little gore and a lot of suspense, I highly recommend it.


Thanks for posting the pics from "The Birds", jsowers, that is a fun movie. Really scary (in a good way) when I watched it as a kid. I had forgotten about the scene in the phone booth during the gas explosion.

And yes, now we know where all the twisted phone cords came from. ;)


First, I want to remind everyone Bells Are Ringing comes on at 8pm tonight (July 27th) on Turner Classic Movies.

Now for another movie with several phones in it. Send Me No Flowers (1964). The last of the Doris Day-Rock Hudson-Tony Randall movies. The set for this movie was built like a real house, with interconnecting rooms. It must have cost a fortune. You can even see plugs in the wall in places. What always intrigued me about this movie set was the white 500 on the patio. Besides being a great luxury, I can imagine the UV from the California sun would never be kind to something like that.

OK, here are the pictures, and I apologize for the fuzziness. It's a LaserDisc dubbed to a DVD.

The first picture shows a beige bedside 500 among lots of pill bottles. Rock Hudson plays a hypochondriac and those are his pills. The green 500 with lots of cord is in a restaurant.

Another beige 500, this time in the doctor's office. It's Edward Andrews again.

Next is the yellow 500 set in Doris' kitchen. She's refilling his sleeping pills with sugar. There are no 554s or Princess phones in this movie. It's all 500s. I don't think product placement had much to do with it.

Next we see a white 500 in the living room on a counter. This may be the same phone we also see later on the patio. In the same restaurant as above, we see Pat Barry on a black 500.

Closeup time. The ivory 500 on the left is in Tony Randall's bedroom. On the right is the white 500 on Doris Day's patio.

The last picture shows the green 500 set in Tony Randall's living room and another black 500, this time on a roll top desk in the train station.

Unlike the previous movies I've posted, the phones aren't as integral in this movie as the others. Half of them were used and the other half were set dressing.


My personal "niche" was inspired by Fight Club, I did some research on US types and discovered whats what.

My first discovery was the 500 C/D, and I found a black one for peanuts on ebay US, black, no line cord, no handset cord, unfortunately the postage wasn't so peanuts to the UK.

Anyway found a site that does replacement modular line/handset cords, so I got a black RJ11 to BT PST line cord, new handset cord (10 foot) and it looked fine, even worked, but no ring!

Thanks to the folks on Singing Wires soon put me straight about that pesky wire aduster on the bells.

Next was the wallphone in the Paper Street house.

It was a 554 black tatty and with white paint splashes on it, and a smiley sticker.

Again stupidly I buy a beat up one from ebay US.

No line cord, grey flat handset cord and hard-wired!

So I had a spare black RJ11 to spades line cord, wired it up, then ordered a 5 foot and 15 foot spaded coiled cord from the US company as before.

Wired it up ( after researching how to open the thing without breaking the case) and with an RJ11 to BT socket again works fine.

I tried the 5 foot first, but have got bored with it and just changed tonight for the 15 foot one for that "roaming round the room" experience so familiar from all those US films and TV shows I watched as a child of the 70's.

Next the daddy, I found on ebay US a 1C2 payphone similar to the one used in the film, from a wholesale buyer who had dozens, waited weeks for delivery but its here, and again the RJ11 as was converted just plugs into a BT convertor.

My bank was less than pleased with the last purchase, you can imagine the postage from the US to UK, then £48 custom duty when I collected it.

I'm working on photoshopping Fight Club "Telnex" dialling instruction cards based on screengrabs from the DVD for this, again I had to ask the folks on Singingwires how to get the plastic fascias off, then I needed to buy a hex set (from US again) to get the nuts loosened.

Lastly, not in the movie, and having become quite enamoured with the Western Electric 500 series I seen a nice red one on ebay US again.

Again cheap to buy and crippling in postage this lovely beast worked fine but the modular case plugs quickly cracked and broke when putting new cables in, so back to the US for replacements, its now the "Presidential hotline" in my room.

The only other money I have expended on them is a set of repro dial lables for the three, I think I've spent enough, would have been cheaper buying them from UK dealers in up and running order, but where's the fun in that eh?

Anyhow now have all my Fight Club vintage phones thanks to a lot of help, research, hours of work and shedloads of money I will never recoup!

To end, I have found the Western Electric machines so easy to restore compared with GPO phones I have still in bits in boxes, really straightforward, just needs a screwdriver and some parts, and an internet connection for help.

"now this should take five minutes, where's me screwdriver went now..?"


And now for your viewing pleasure; a fine example of a 302 with brown cloth cord, from "The Seven Year Itch".  Isn't it just lovely? Such grace, such form...



What phone? What cord?  ??? ??? ???

I only see Miss Monroe sliding down a chair.  ;D ;D ;D