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Telefon (1977)

PG  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  16 December 1977 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 3,795 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 30 critic

A Russian officer is sent to USA to try and stop sleeper agents who will mindlessly attack government entities when they hear certain coded words.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicolai Dalchimsky
Dorothy Putterman
Alan Badel ...
Colonel Malchenko
Patrick Magee ...
General Strelsky
Marie Wills
Frank Marth ...
Harley Sandburg
Helen Page Camp ...
Emma Stark
Doug Stark
Mrs. Hassler
Ed Bakey ...
Carl Hassler
Harry Bascom
Iggie Wolfington ...
Father Stuart Diller
Hank Brandt ...
William Enders


The KGB is looking for one of their people, a man named Dalchimsky because he has stolen something important but, unfortunately, he manages to get through the border. Later in the U.S. some seemingly ordinary people after receiving a phone call go out and destroy key American military installations. Back in the U.S.S.R. General Strelsky and Colonel Malchenko send for Grigori Borzov, a KGB agent who has been to the U.S. on missions before. They inform him that after the U-2 incident in fear of the possibility that a war with the U.S. will occur; they were part of an operation called TELEFON that involved recruiting young agents and then brainwashing them into believing that they are Americans. They would assume the identity of an American who died a long time ago and who would be their age now. They would be situated in a city that is near or where a key U.S. military installation is located. They were also programmed to destroy upon receiving the command phrase. They have been ... Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They'll do anything to stop Telefon. The operation that can trigger 51 human time bombs. See more »


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 December 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Телефон  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


James B. Harris initially optioned Walter Wager's novel for the big screen and was to direct but MGM felt they wanted a "bigger" name to direct the picture. This same reason was why Peter Hyams, who wrote the script, never took the director's chair either. See more »


No foreign cars were allowed to be used by KGB officials back in 1970s. Instead of filmed Mercedes Pullman KGB general should've been driven in ZIL or Volga. See more »


Lieutenant Alexandrov: [KGB-men enter Dalchimsky's apartment] NICOLAI DALCHIMSKY!
See more »


Referenced in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

A fine action thriller, despite its incredible storyline
23 July 2001 | by (Oberhausen, Germany) – See all my reviews

One effect of watching this one is that you will always read Frost's "Stopping By Woods" from a very different point of view.

No question, there's a whole lot of good acting in Don Siegel's "Telefon" (from Tyne Daly, for instance), but the story, from Walter Wager's novel, is, at least partly, ridiculous. Criticism of international secret policy comes off o.k., claiming that what intelligence agencies have always lacked most is intelligence. But it's more about suspense and action; especially the blowing up of a whole valley is staged with Siegel's dynamic perfection routine.

The film has got Charles Bronson in its center and he does his usual fine job as an ultra-cool Soviet major smuggled into the U.S. in order to exterminate a fellow KGB agent (Donald Pleasence) who has gone crazy there and is now endangering the whole Cold War balance system.

Please note the important rôle telephones play throughout the whole film, not just for Pleasence's ambitions. And watch out for Roy Jenson as his last victim, a man who has played lots of minor parts in major movies. - And don't forget listen to the film, as Lalo Schifrin's score is very fascinating once again.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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