Monday, July 11, 2011

Telephone exchange
names on screen

[Click for a larger view.]

Dawn breaks on Manhattan, in Sweet Smell of Success (dir.
Alexander Mackendrick, 1957). The view is purportedly from an apartment at 1619 Broadway, the Brill Building, between 49th and 50th, where powerful columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) lives with his sister Susan (Susan Harrison). Hart’s Guide to New York City (1964) locates the Warner Theatre (just right of center, bottom) at 1585 Broadway, now the address of the Morgan Stanley Building. This shot might not be from the Brill Building, but we’re at least in the neighborhood.

I can make nothing of that Howard on the left: the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge stood at 851 Eighth Avenue (now the address of an Hampton Inn) and bore no resemblance to the building in this shot.

Sweet Smell of Success is a lurid and compelling story of ego and subservience, with an over-the-top screenplay by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets and great cinematography from James Wong Howe. Lancaster, Harrison, and Tony Curtis are superb. And Martin Milner does a fine job as a West Coast jazz musician.

Oh, the exchange name. Did you spot it?

A 1955 list of recommended exchange names gives only one possibility for PE: PErshing. PErshing it is.

Sweet Smell of Success is available, beautifully restored, from the Criterion Collection.

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 : This Gun for Hire

comments: 6

holden said...

Could that be the Howard Johnson north of Times Square? It was there until recently (might still be there, for all I know). It was a diner, not a hotel.

Michael Leddy said...

The restaurant was at 46th and Broadway, closer to Times Square, and on the Warner side of the street. (HJ closed in 2005.)

Whit said...

Murry Hill 7 7500

Michael Leddy said...

I think I know what you’re getting at. If it’s the number for Gimbels Custom Reupholstery, I remember it as MU 7-0700. I’ve seen both numbers mentioned here and there online.

Mugsy257 said...

Do you remember the big band hit: "PEnnsylvania-6-5000"?

Michael Leddy said...

Indeed, though it’s before my time.