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The Telephone Book (1971)

Victim of an obscene caller becomes obsessed with her fantasy of ?him and attempts to track down IRL.


Nelson Lyon


Nelson Lyon


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sarah Kennedy ... Alice
Norman Rose Norman Rose ... Mr. Smith
James Harder James Harder ... Obscene-Caller
Jill Clayburgh ... Eyemask
Ondine Ondine ... Narrator
Barry Morse ... Har Poon
Ultra Violet ... Whip Woman
Geri Miller Geri Miller ... Dancer
Roger C. Carmel ... Analyst
William Hickey ... Man in Bed
Matthew Tobin Matthew Tobin ... Mugger
Jan Farrand Jan Farrand ... Woman in the Park
David Dozer David Dozer ... Obscene-Caller
Lucy Lee Flippin ... Obscene-Caller
Dolph Sweet ... Obscene-Caller


The story of a day in the life of a lonely, sensitive, exhuberent, attractive, young woman. Her exploits, encounters, and frustrations as she attempts to find a "special" someone, a caller who has "class", as she puts it. Written by dharmabum <darmabum@li.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The story of a girl who falls in love with the world's greatest obscene phone call.




X | See all certifications »






Release Date:

3 October 1971 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rosebud Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Black and White | Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to producer Merv Bloch the movie originally came with an especially shot intermission which he eventually decided to cut out. During the intermission Andy Warhol was shown sitting in a chair eating popcorn until the actual movie would continue again, which was meant as a sort of in-joke to Warhol's own films that often showed the most mundane things for an extended amount of time, like a person sleeping for several hours or a person eating something without anything extraordinary happening. The footage of this intermission is currently (2010) considered lost. See more »


References The Magic Christian (1969) See more »


Something To Remember Me By
Written by Arthur Schwartz & Howard Dietz
See more »

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User Reviews

A film about sex that is rarely sexy
13 March 2014 | by StevePulaskiSee all my reviews

Rating: While France was experiencing a massive directorial overhauling of conventions and norms in the sixties, it seems the always intriguing city of New York City was experiencing something of a shift in their approach to American cinema as well. With Nelson Lyon's The Telephone Book captures such a peculiar time in seventies cinema, which is the underground cinema movement in NYC, where rebel filmmakers began realizing that they didn't have to follow in the footsteps of big time filmmakers and could make what they so desired in the comfort of their own neighborhood. One could loan their discoveries and beliefs to the development of what is known today as independent films, or films that lack the participation of large studios with blank-checks and huge distribution deals.

The Telephone Book is one of the most fascinating and truly unique cult films from the seventies you have never seen nor heard of. It concerns a young, eighteen-year-old girl named Alice (Shannon Kennedy), who possesses tendencies of a nymphomaniac. Alice lives in her NYC apartment, which is lined with explicit, black and white sexual photographs and lewd images that assist her in her own personal self-discoveries.

One day, Alice gets a call from a man claiming to be named "John Smith" (Norman Rose), a man with an incredibly deep voice and one who has the rare ability of being able to seduce women just by the sound of his voice. Alice is smitten by his charm and his smooth-talking ways, and after getting his name, makes it her goal to try and track him down and find him in person. Alice has become in love with what she finds the greatest obscene phone call in history.

Alice goes on an exhaustive search for the man, who claims to have one of the most notoriously common names in the country. However, even when she sticks to the telephone book focusing on just the people in New York City she is overwhelmed with results. The film follows her as she exhaustively searches for the man, running into some of New York's strangest and quirkiest souls. One of them is a stag film director who enjoys sex with multiple women at a time, while another subject provides for one of the film's most hilarious scenes. This scene involves your average everyman, who tries to find ways to get Alice to say dirty words and paying her in change so she can make more calls to find her real "John Smith." The man has a change dispenser clipped to the waistband of his pants, which represents his ejaculation and his level of arousal. You may already know where this is going, but the result is devilishly funny and provides for some of the strangest, most off-the-wall comedy the film has to offer.

The film is photographed in high-contrast black and white, providing an even edgier, more authentic experience of the 1970's time period along with the vibes of what feels like unadulterated underground cinema. The Telephone Book comes from the time period where risks in films were actually taken and the idea of subversion wasn't nudged at but boldly and bravely toyed with to the point where what emerged was something almost totally unrecognizable and sometimes frightening.

While sex is a huge topic in the film, and the intricate elements of sex are talked about quite frequently in the film, this film is not one for the erotic genre. Despite its subject matter, the picture is rarely erotic, but instead, more of a sensation, if anything. Even the fact that the film concludes with a surreal, seven minute animation sequence depicting graphic, mind-blowing sexual intercourse between two people on the phone in two separate phone booths solidifies that the film is more interested with being a sensory experience rather than an arousing one. The film was made during the time that "porno chic" was becoming popular, and even indulging in graphic sex scenes would've been a subversive move on the film's behalf. Instead, the film even ignores another groundbreaking element of the time to go off and do its own thing, which is even more unique. It's a film about sex that is rarely sexy.

The Telephone Book feels like the kind of thing John Waters would've made in the early seventies and added it to his collection of trash cinema set in the eccentric land of Baltimore, Maryland. It plays the similar instruments of shock, weird comedy, oddball events, fetish pornography, and individualistic style. Needless to say, I loved every minute of it.

Starring: Sarah Kennedy and Norman Rose. Directed by: Nelson Lyon.

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