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Telefon (1977)

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


Don Siegel


Peter Hyams (screenplay), Stirling Silliphant (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Bronson ... Major Grigori Borzov
Lee Remick ... Barbara
Donald Pleasence ... Nicolai Dalchimsky
Tyne Daly ... Dorothy Putterman
Alan Badel ... Colonel Malchenko
Patrick Magee ... General Strelsky
Sheree North ... Marie Wills
Frank Marth ... Harley Sandburg
Helen Page Camp ... Emma Stark
Roy Jenson ... Doug Stark
Jacqueline Scott ... Mrs. Hassler
Ed Bakey Ed Bakey ... Carl Hassler
John Mitchum ... Harry Bascom
Iggie Wolfington Iggie Wolfington ... Father Stuart Diller
Hank Brandt 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 <rcs0411@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They'll do anything to stop Telefon. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


An on-set dispute occurred whilst filming at San Francisco's Hyatt regency Hotel. Charles Bronson was directed to walk to a black tape mark when exiting a glass elevator. According to director Don Siegel, Bronson exclaimed: "You don't have to show off by telling me how to get off an escalator!" Siegel then did the quiet moment director-actor thing with Bronson, walking away for a quiet chat. Siegel explained that the tape was there so as to retain the aesthetic looking glass elevators within the shot frame. Apparently, Siegel threatened to walk off the set but actor and director shook on it and the shot was completed. See more »


When Dalchimsky is watching Hassler take off, it is obviously from high vantage point. During his flight, he passes some very prominent hills. Florida is very flat with the area around Apalachicola being only a few tens of feet above sea level. See more »


Grigori Borzov: Being paranoid doesn't mean we're not being followed.
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Referenced in Boogie Nights (1997) See more »


The Yellow Rose of Texas
Traditional American folk melody
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User Reviews

Sometimes senseless, but engrossing thriller
24 February 2004 | by Poseidon-3See all my reviews

Bronson and Remick make an unusual, but intriguing pair in this cold war suspense drama. He plays a KGB agent (with a notable American accent, attributed to his many trips to the U.S.!) who is sent to eliminate a renegade Stalinist who is wreaking havoc on various American military/industrial sites. The renegade (Pleasence) has unearthed a 15 year-old plot that the Soviets had put into place and then abandoned in which 51 agents were brainwashed into believing that they were Americans, but who can be reactivated through verbal command to complete their missions. Once they hear the key phrase (usually delivered to them over the telephone, hence the title), they single-mindedly go about blowing up whatever target was originally intended and then offing themselves. Bronson joins forces with CIA operative Remick, giving her limited information about the mission, but using her resources to reach his ends. The film becomes a sort of cross-country chase as the agent couple fight to either catch up to or stay ahead of Pleasence before he sets off another dormant killing machine. Logic and believability often take a backseat here with the premise itself being a little hard to swallow. However, the acting of the leads and the eeriness of the situation go a long way to cover up the problems with the plot. Bronson is his usual rather silent, tough self, but it works, especially against the more animated and sophisticated Remick. Her character is not always particularly credible, but she adds tastefulness to any film and can always be counted on for good reactions (her eyes captured more light than practically anyone before or since, except maybe Meg Foster.) There are some other decent performances in the film (such as Magee as a weary Russian general) but one that grates is Daly as a know-it-all CIA computer technician. Meant to be comic relief, she winds up more of a distraction and a point of irritation during a lot of her scenes. Pleasence has few lines and isn't in the film a great deal, but manages to ham it up nonetheless with several unintentionally hilarious expressions and loopy disguises. Composer Schifrin provides an effective, Russian-tinged score for the film.

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Release Date:

16 December 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Telefon See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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