Tuesday, December 16, 2008

PLaza, PLaza, PLaza

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (dir. Anatole Litvak, 1938) is an unusual vehicle for Edward G. Robinson, playing a doctor curious about the criminal mind. In the course of his research (which involves, of course, becoming a criminal), Clitterhouse discovers that (like Augustine) he enjoys crime for its own sake, reporting that it brings him "something like the effects of champagne — a high, heady reaction, a strange exhilaration." I'll leave the rest of the story to your imagination, potential viewer.

PLaza, the PLatonic telephone exchange name, plays a part in this picture. Here, safecracker Rocks Valentine (Humphrey Bogart) has jotted what turns out to be Clitterhouse's home telephone number. See that paper disc? Rocks has "translated" seven marks made by a bit of pencil lead that he affixed under the phone's dial. How does he know the sequence of numbers? He used a "little jigger to click it over a notch with every turn." Pretty clever, huh? (Huh? Click it over a notch? What?)

When we next see the matchbook, it's a bit worse for wear. (And yes, the handwriting is different, which makes the movie a bit like Hi and Lois.)

Dr. Clitterhouse's office too has a PLaza number. And dig that notepad and the snazzy Modern Medicine!

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse also offers the chance to see Robinson, Bogart, and Claire Trevor together, long before their powerful performances in Key Largo (dir. John Huston, 1948).

Another post with PLaza in it
A pocket diary and an exchange name

comments: 1

j said...

...like Hi and Lois :)

Those phones are so worthy of an exchange.