The Telephone Book is the only X-rated comedy to deserve an X-rating and be considered a comedy. How brilliant is it? The movie is about a woman falling in love with the world’s greatest obscene phone caller. What makes it brilliant is the caller is played by Norman Rose. He was the voice of Ma Bell commercials when he made this movie back in 1971. The film fell into major obscurity for decades thanks to issues with the original distributor. But now The Telephone Book is quickly gaining its rightful cult as it crops up at festivals eager to let this movie shine. When Raleigh’s Cinema Overdrive ran it as their Valentine’s gift screening, I fell immediately in love. This is perfect freakish comedy film. Now you can have a chance to experience The Telephone Book without hunting for film festival. Vinegar Syndrome putting out a Blu-ray/DVD set on May 7 (pre-order today). Here’s the red band trailer that might upset grandma if played out.
What might freak you out more than the film is the actors who joined up for the weirdness. Between chasing The Fugitive and blasting off on Space: 1999, Barry Morse played an adult film star eager for a comeback. William Hickey gets a little dishonorable before his turn on Prizzi’s Honor. Roger C. Carmel gets dirty after being Harry Mudd on Star Trek. Jill Clayburgh even makes a noticeable cameo. Sarah Kennedy holds her own against this supporting cast. She makes her Alice believable as she goes down the carnal rabbit hole in search of that special voice. When she listens to the ultimate obscene phone call, she radiates joy.
For those of you not familiar with Norman Rose’s career, here’s an ad he did for Illinois Bell.
He also narrated the Star Wars toys commercials.
The Telephone Book getting the 1080p treatment is the cinema event of the year. The promised bonus features include a commentary track with producer Merv Bloch, two theatrical trailers, radio spots and a still gallery. Writer-Director Nelson Lyon passed away last summer, but his comedy legacy is getting a new life with the Blu-ray. The Telephone Book is a comedy that doesn’t phone it in.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.