Monday, August 4, 2008

Telephone exchange names on screen (no. 4)



"ATwater 0-2390, please": Janet Cullen (Lisa Howard) tries to get in touch with her detective husband Andy (John Dall). She's calling from their arty basement apartment. ATwater, I am happy to report, appears in the Bell System's 1955 listing of recommended exchange names.

(Says my daughter: "Your blog is becoming a shrine to the telephone.")

The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950, dir. Felix E. Feist) offers the moviegoer some unusual opportunities:

1. The opportunity to see Lee J. Cobb and John Dall (thrill-killer Brandon Shaw from Alfred Hitchcock's Rope) play brothers.

2. The opportunity to see Jane Wyatt (Margaret Anderson from the television series Father Knows Best) smoke cigarettes and kill someone.

3. The opportunity to tour San Francisco's desolate Fort Point in a long final scene.

Lisa Howard's post-movie life took a remarkable and remarkably sad turn.

Related posts
Telephone exchange names on screen
Telephone exchange names on screen (no. 2)
Telephone exchange names on screen (no. 3)

comments: 2

angela said...

I never quite understood the letter exchanges... I do remember my grandmother's number starting with "HA-6" when I was little....

I always found this curious in old movies: someone gets cut off mid-conversation and they then agitatedly keep yelling "hello" into the receiver while "flashing" the dial tone button (for lack of a better descriptor). How was that supposed to restore the connection?

Michael Leddy said...

Angela, the Telehone EXchange Name Project has the exchange thing covered.

It's funny that you should mention that movie bit: after my children brought home a rotary phone from a thrift store yesterday (what great kids!), I called the local time and temperature number and did exactly what you describe. I think that back in the day the purpose was to get the operator on the line to reconnect the call. I wonder if it ever worked.