I originally did this particular Phenomenal 5 over a year ago. Honestly, it was one of the most fun lists to put together, but hardly anyone saw it. Thankfully to you all, my blog has grown some since then and I’ve been waiting to share it again for those who have missed it. So why wait any longer? There have been so many great movie moments involving phone calls and almost every single genre has their share. Putting this list together was a lot tougher that I expected and there are some great scenes I had to leave off. But such is the nature with the Phenomenal 5, right? So as always, I wouldn’t call this the definitive list, but there’s no denying that these movie phone calls are absolutely phenomenal.
#5 – “TAKEN” – “a very particular set of skills”
I liked “Taken” even though it kind of flew off the rails closer to the end. But it also provided one of the most memorable movie phone conversations you’ll find. Liam Neeson’s daughter and her friend are abducted while on a trip to Paris. Neeson’s character is a CIA field agent who we quickly find out has “a particular set of skills”. In a brief but incredibly intense phone chat with the abductors, Neeson presents them an offer (if they let his daughter go free) and then a stern warning (if they don’t). It’s a scene that became the signature moment in the film and one that I can’t help but love.
#4 – “DIAL M FOR MURDER” – “Hello?…Hello?…Hello?”
I still struggle with why ANYONE with an ounce of sanity would want to kill the beautiful Grace Kelly, yet that was Ray Milland’s plan in this Hitchcock classic. As his accomplice hides behind the drapes, Milland lures Kelly out of bed with a phone call from the party he’s attending. He then listens on the phone as his hired hand strangles his wife. Foolproof plan right? Of course not, this is Hitchcock, remember? This key scene turns Milland’s devious plans upside down and launches one of cinema’s best thrillers.
#3 – “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” – “You know how this is going to turn out, don’t you?”
One of the very best scenes in the Coen brothers’ brilliant “No Country for Old Men” is the phone conversation between Anton Chigurh and Llewelyn Moss. It marks the first time the two have had any communication and the intensity is simmering. The scene’s slick dialogue and clever tone is vintage Coen brothers but it also works thanks to great deliveries from Bardem and Brolin. From the startling first ring of the phone to the slamming down of the receiver at the conversation’s end, this movie phone call nails it.
#2 – “DR. STRANGELOVE” – “I agree with you, it’s great to be fine”
How can you have a list of top movie phone calls without including the hilarious conversation between United States President Merkin Muffley and Soviet Premier Dimitri Kisov from “Dr. Strangelove”. In this classic Cold War spoof, a base commander goes “a little silly in head” and orders his planes to attack the U.S.S.R. President Muffley, wonderfully played by Peter Sellers, makes a courtesy call to Premier Kisov to let him know the base commander “went and did a silly thing”. The entire scene is just Sellers and he not only plays his character but also brilliantly sells us Dimitri, who we never hear. It’s a laugh out loud funny sequence and one of several great moments from the movie.
#1 – “SILENCE OF THE LAMBS” – “I’m having an old friend for dinner.”
Who can forget the phone call at the end of this Oscar-winning crime thriller? After finishing a gruesome and intense serial killer case, the film ends with Clarice enjoying herself at her FBI graduation party. While receiving several commendations and pats on the back, she’s told she has a phone call. At the other end of the line is Hannibal Lecter. He congratulates Clarice on her success then drops the classic yet still disturbing line “I’m having an old friend for dinner”. Anthony Hopkins, decked in a blonde wig and tilted hat, then walks off after Chilton. The film ends with Clarice simply repeating “Dr. Lecter….Dr. Lecter….Dr. Lecter…”. It’s one of those endings that leaves you uncomfortable but it’s also an ending you won’t forget.
What are your thoughts of my 5 Phenomenal Movie Phone Calls? See something I overlooked? Disagree with my choices. Please take time to share you picks or opinions.
Great list! How can you not mention Scream though? The opening scene with Drew Barrymore is incredible!
Yep the opening phone call is great. It’s the best thing about Scream. I gave it a lot of consideration but just could put it ahead of any of these.
I’d also include the opening phone call from Scream. It’s just too damn iconic at this point. But a great list indeed! Very original idea!
It’s a good scene but I couldn’t drop out any of these. Scream was close but Liam’s set of skills won out.
Nice picks Keith, can’t disagree with any of these. I quite like the film Phone Booth as well, which unsurprisingly has a couple of phone calls.
Didn’t that have Colin Farrell in it? I’ve never seen it. May have to check it out.
Yep that’s the one! It’s actually pretty decent. I thought it’d be awful but I actually enjoyed it.
Nice list. I love the Dr. Strangelove one.
Thanks! Isn’t the Strangelove one hilarious?
Great topic Keith….those are some good ones but the Dr. Strangelove would be my favourite! That was a classic phone call. Made me chuckle just thinking about it right now.
Wasn’t it great? And it was all Sellers. That guy was a comic genius!
Taken and Silence of the Lambs good choices 😀
“I’m having an old friend for dinner”…Gets me every time!
Same here 😀
Great list here Keith. All great scenes. There’s no doubt in my mind though, that the top movie phone call is in David Lynchs “Lost Highway” where Bill Pullman is chatting to Robert Blake at a party. Blake tells Pullman to call his own home number and it’s Blake talking down the phone at him, even though he’s staring right in from of him. Freaky stuff and one of Lynch’s finest ever scenes.
Oh great mention Mark. I have never seen this flick. Sounds really intriguing though. Sounds freaky enough to be right up my alley!
You should definitely check it out. I’m still trying to make sense of the film after all these years but that scene will certainly stick in the mind.
I’ll be adding it to my Netflix queue. Always appreciate a new discovery!
If Dr. Strangelove hadn’t made the list I would’ve said your precious bodily fluids had been sabotaged!
LOLOL!!! Oh it was one of the inspirations for this list! No way it wasn’t going to make it. Sellers is brilliant in that scene… Well, in the whole movie!
How about “When a Stranger Calls” when that stranger calls?
That’s a great one that I really thought a lot about. “The call is coming from inside the house”! Love that scene!!!
Great picks, Keith! 🙂
This is my favorite though:
LOLOLOL!!!! Perfect for the list! Good one buddy!
What a fun top 5 here Keith. I’d have to agree w/ your choices, esp. Taken. I haven’t seen the movie but wasn’t Phone Booth entirely about a guy taking a phone call from a deranged villain? I’d think there’s some memorable phone call in that movie, ahah. Oh, I’d also add in The Matrix, lots of memorable ones there, esp this one w/ Trinity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPtk7mweahY
Great mention Ruth! COMPLETELY forgot about The Matrix. Phones were a pretty big part of that flick. I haven’t seen Phone Booth either but someone else mentioned it too. I also thought of some of the great conversations in Die Hard with a Vengeance. Theones with Willis and Samuel L. on one end and Jeffery Irons on the other.
Love your list, Keith. It made me think of phone booths, too–Trinity, The Birds….
Thanks Cindy! This was a really fun one to put together!