Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Telephone exchange names on screen

[Philip Raven (Alan Ladd), new in town, looks up Willard Gates (Laird Cregar).]

This Gun for Hire (dir. Frank Tuttle, 1942) stars Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar, and Alan Ladd. Unlike, say, The Big Sleep (dir. Howard Hawks, 1946), this film is governed by centripetal not centrifugal force. Cregar (as a Los Angeles chemicals executive and nightclub owner) and Ladd (as a hitman) are stellar. Lake (as singer-magician Ellen Graham) and Preston (as Detective Michael Crane) seem an unlikely couple. But it’s a movie.

[Gates: “Your act is very charming.” Graham: “Thank you.”]

More exchange names on screen
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Baby Face : Born Yesterday : The Dark Corner : Deception : Dream House : The Little Giant : The Man Who Cheated Himself : Murder, My Sweet : Nightmare Alley : The Public Enemy : Side Street

comments: 4

Sean said...

I'm sheepishly adding this example owing to its comparatively lesser pedigree, but in the 2nd episode of Season 6 of Seinfeld, he tells someone his number is: "KL5-2390." It aired in 1994, and caught my attention because I had long-wondered about those prefixes (and thought they were long-out of use).

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, ye olde “KLondike 5” of many television shows. Exchange names were indeed long out of use by 1994.

Diane Schirf said...

Irrelevant question: What do you think of The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers?

I don't remember ever using exchanges. We got a private line circa 1965 or 66. A friend still had a party line. Was that an interesting concept.

Michael Leddy said...

I haven’t seen that film in years, but I remember being lukewarm about it. It must’ve been in the public domain at one point: it was on television all the time.

I like the way old films explaining telephone use cover the party line by advising that you hang up and try your call later. What patience!