Friday, February 6, 2009

Telephone exchange names on screen

[From The Public Enemy, dir. William Wellman, 1931.]

This exchange name is soon to vanish from the screen, as the doors are flung open and floral cargo tossed into the street to make room for cases of liquor. Why? Prohibition begins at midnight.

The Public Enemy is a great film, with far more than its famous grapefruit-in-face scene. The final moments, with Tom Powers (James Cagney) at the door as a record plays "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," shock even with repeated viewings. I wonder how audiences reacted in 1931. (The New York Times archive has, alas, no review.)

More exchange names on screen
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse
Baby Face
Born Yesterday
The Man Who Cheated Himself
Nightmare Alley

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