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The Telephone Book (1971)

Theatrical Poster
Genres:
Comedy, Sex Comedy
Director:
Nelson Lyon Nelson Lyon
Starring:
Sarah Kennedy Sarah Kennedy
Norman Rose Norman Rose
James Harder James Harder
Jill Clayburgh Jill Clayburgh
Ondine Ondine

6.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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The story of a day in the life of a lonely, sensitive, exuberant, attractive, young woman. Her exploits, encounters, and frustrations as she attempts to find a "special" someone, a caller who has "class", as she puts it. --IMDb
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Review by Bill Wolford
Added: May 19, 2013
Vinegar Syndrome truly surprised me this time. They're getting well known for releasing Blu-ray / DVD combo packs that are filled to the brim with bonus material for hard to find films. They're becoming the standard for releasing these films in widescreen looking better than any of them should have a right to, but they surprised me by releasing a film that could be considered to have underground cult status, and had me laughing all the way through. "The Telephone Book" is their best release yet, and a film you need to own.

The comedy stars Sarah Kennedy as Alice who looks and sounds like a blonde Betty Boop. Alice has fallen in love with the world's best obscene phone caller "John Smith" (played brilliantly by Norman Rose). John has dared Alice to try and find him by giving her two clues; his name and that his number is in the Manhattan telephone book. You should see how many John Smiths there are in the Manhattan telephone book! Not to be dissuaded, Alice agrees.

As she starts her search, she heads to a studio where she was told to go by one of the Smiths in the phone book. She finds herself in the middle of an audition with "Har-Poon", an out of work stag movie actor whose real name just happens to be John Smith as well. He is having an orgy audition so that he can star and direct his own comeback. As Alice gets ready to settle in to the audition, the real John Smith calls and tells her that she is not at the right place. This is where rational thinking would tell you to wonder how he knew she was there. Well, rational thought doesn't really have a place in this movie, so just go with the flow and enjoy the laughs. And speaking of laughs, there is so much sexual innuendo going on throughout the film that you really have to pay attention, or you'll miss some of the jokes.

Now, some of the funniest parts of the movie come between Alice's adventures. They are pseudo documentary style confessions of three or four men who used to be obscene phone callers. They have since changed their ways, and are now leading normal lives. The problem is that in every case, their normal lives are more screwed up than they ever were when they were simply making obscene phone calls. You'd think this would play out as padding for the running time, but that isn't the case at all, and I found myself wishing they had found a way to fit one or two more guys in there to share their "normal" lives.

When Alice is taking the subway home, she meets a pervert who decides he will give her pay phone money to try and find John in exchange for her telling him her most exciting sexual escapade. Hilarity ensues as she tells him a story involving a minister, soap and water, and a week long erection. Needless to say, she gets more money than even she was hoping to get. After being robbed, and then seduced by a lesbian, John's call comes to the rescue telling her to go home. Does she meet her John Smith? How do they relate? What will they discuss? Will there be amazing sex? I will give you one hint. The last ten minutes of this movie are absolutely amazing! This is a very under-appreciated art house film that deserves a much wider audience.

Of course Vinegar Syndrome has spared no expense in putting out the highest quality package possible. Widescreen black and white presentation. Only a couple of drop outs in the first few minutes of the movie take away from the overall excellent sound. For the extras, we have an audio commentary with producer Merv Bloch, a reissue trailer, the original trailer, a still gallery and radio spots. There is no reason to wait. Buy this now, and enjoy the laughs. 8/10.
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