Call Into Question

Friday, September 12, 2008


Telephones have always figured prominently in film, as a plot device, a prop, a way to generate suspense or a way to reach out and touch someone. But now that we’re all reachable all the time, screenwriters have to contrive ways of using our phones in symbolic or surprising ways, and figure out how to take them away from us altogether. Freelance journalist Zachary Pincus-Roth wrote about the effect that cell phones are having on movie plots in this Sunday’s Los Angeles Times.

Comments [6]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

I absolutely loved "The President's Analyst"!

What I really found weird was that movie a few years back about someone being terrorized in a phone booth. I only saw the promos but I kept wondering, where did they find the booth? Even before cell phones pretty much wiped them out, the companies had switched to those unenclosed jobs drug dealers tended to monopolize.

Sep. 15 2008 01:23 AM
dave pierson

It was 'interesting' that the same show that was
doing factchecking didn't do fact checking on the
'phones in movies' segment, James Bond's car
phone was standard technology, available since
1955, or so, as aptly noted by another poster.

Also: OUTSIDE of Hollywood, cell phones, in the
real world, are NOT omniversal: just spent a
weekend in NH, 2 hours from Boston: no
Cell service, This is sent from my parents, an
hour from Boston, 10 minutes from I 95: no
cell service. In each case, this is not 'wrong
network': its NO Service. Perhaps if authours
spent time more broadly???


Sep. 14 2008 02:23 PM
Patrick from ohio

I recall a great but dated movie THE PRESIDENTS ANYLYST (SP) Staring James corbern and Godfrey Cambridge, it seemed to predict cellphones
the true power behind the power was "TPC"
the phone company, whp wanted to inject every one
with a "CC" a "Cebreum communicater"
a phone driectly in the brain ha ha
not to far from the truth1

Sep. 14 2008 01:29 PM
Jerry McDonald from Philadelphia, PA

I was offended by the author's assertion that prior to the invention of cell phones that Hollywood directors "invented" them. This is absolutely not true, and shows the author's lack of understanding of history, and failure to do his research. Cellular telephone technology was a change in technology that occurred in the late 1980s (not unlike the integrated circuit) that put mobile telephone technology into the hands of the masses. However, mobile telephones existed and were in daily use by many (but not the masses) before the cellular era, and certainly were not INVENTED by Hollywood (the only exception to the examples listed in the piece was the Get Smart "shoe phone", clearly a Hollywood invention). These phones were massive compared to today's cell phones, and were most definitely only used by people who could afford them, as reflected in the films of the time (the large size shown was REAL and was not a Hollywood invention meant to convey power by its size, though the presence of the device did). See Wikipedia "Mobile Radio Telephone" which indicates the technology dates to 1946 and was available in the US 1962 onward. I personally knew a fellow who had one installed in his Cadillac circa 1975!

Sep. 14 2008 12:59 PM
Robert from NYC

Speaking of the "huge" cell phone reminds me of my friends huge cell phone that would carry around in the late 80s early 90s as an employee of the NYNEX (Verizon). He had to carry the phone in his position to be reached everywhere. We thought it was so cool but it was huge as your guest said. It did attract lots of attention then as no one had cell phones yet. Today it really would be laughed at. I laugh at the large wireless handsets that I see in the Seinfeld reruns.

Sep. 14 2008 10:57 AM
Teresa Genaro from Brooklyn, NY

In his discussion of the effect that cell phones might have had on the plot of Casablanca, Mr. Pincus-Roth observed that had Ilsa and Rick had cell phones, they might not have missed their connection at the train station, implying that a lack of communcation made their separation inevitable. In fact, Ilsa had no intention of joining Rick, having discovered that her husband was alive and making the decision to join him. Even with a cell phone, Rick would have been left at the station, feeling, as he put it, as if guts had been kicked out, as llsa would like not have taken advantage of technology to call him and explain her decision.

Sep. 13 2008 08:38 PM

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