Films With Phones Pivotal Part of Narrative

From The Black Phone

Along with the name of the film, the phone in all it’s shapes and sizes plays an important part of the film or that film has an important scene which the phone plays big part of the story. As ever it’s not a complete, nor is it in order nor the film might be considered a critical success. There is a list of notables some I haven’t seen so couldn’t add to main list…

The Matrix (1999)

For us phones are a way for us to communicate, in this film it took us to another world , The Matrix. You could say this film was like a forewarning to how technology developing, taking us to unknown fabulous places behind the fabulous was something truly sinister. Internet was also in it’s infancy , mobiles too and it introduce to the world then the coolest mobile on the planet The Nokia 8110. you could say this film still stands up, it was an exciting action film that let loose paranoia, then again we were about to enter a new century or Brave New World.

Phone Booth (2002)

Joel Schumacher’s slick, tense thriller, made at the start of the noughties when mobiles where still in their infancy which mean’t this film worked. Starring Colin Farrell in his early days in Hollywood. He plays Stuart Sheppard someone just happened to answer a call at the wrong time finding himself trapped by the mysterious sniper played by Kiefer Sutherland at a phone booth. All Stuart wanted was to phone his mistress. This was a script written by Legendary scriptwriter Larry Cohen (died 2019) who apparently offered Alfred Hitchcock the idea of Phone Booth years before. He did like the idea, but couldn’t figure out how to do it. The film may not be the greatest, it does have a fantastic performance from Farrell.

All The Presidents Men (1975)

Before there was internet and mobile phones journalists used phones to call leads or insiders to get a story. Starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. Alan J. Pakula‘s paranoid true thriller  which two journalist who mutually respect each other but really don’t like each other. The pair investigate the story of the break in at the Democratic Part congress which would be come the know as the Watergate scandal that was the downfall of Nixon in the 1970’s. It’s a gut wrenching, nail biting thriller considered the best ever journalism film to date.

Scream (1996)

When it comes to use of phones in films in the 1990’s, it was Wes Craven’s cult Scream franchise. The iconic Drew Barrymore call that kicked everything off 3 decades ago when she met her demise to Ghostface. Recently the 5th film returned and technology updated with mobiles now now the weapon of choice to terrorise their victims.

The Ring (1998)

There is nothing more terrifying watching what looks an old cursed experimental short art film then getting a call telling you, you’ll die in seven days thanks to a creepy girl who’ll climb out a well and tv screen and kill you. Urban legend taken to another level and J-Horror at it’s best, the 2002 Hollywood remake wasn’t bad either starring Naomi Watts and Brian Cox.

His Girl Friday (1940)

Another classic journalism film like all the president’s men, your tools of the trade where the typewriter and the phone on your desk. Starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell a story of editor and top reporter who loves the business but when she crosses paths with her editor their personal business get in the way. It’s a screwball comedy which was big at the time, it’s about journalism!

Cell (2016)

Based on Stephen King’s short story starring Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack. All about an  mysterious signal broadcast over the mobile network turning people into zombie like evil killer. King’s adaptation s a hit and miss and this is one big Jared Leto.

Dial M For Murder (1954)

Alfred Hitchcock did have a film with a phone in its narrative starring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland. Milland plays a pro tennis player trying to plot to murder his adulterous wife (Kelly) who will answer the call find herself strangled. Written by Frederic Knott who scripted the stage play with Hitchcock directing it’s one of his Mystery thrillers that could be called a classic. The downside for this one it spawned plenty of rip off’s like A Perfect Murder starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Notable mentions

A nightmare On Elm Street

It’s A Wonderful Life

Lost Highway



When A Stranger Calls

Sorry Wrong Number (1948, Barbara Stanwyck)


One Missed Call


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