5 Phenomenal Movie Phone Calls

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.

REVIEW: “Dial M for Murder”

Classic Movie SpotlightDIAL MIt may not be the most acclaimed Alfred Hitchcock film, but “Dial M for Murder” is an intelligent and capable murder mystery adapted from Frederick Knott’s play. While there are special Hitchcock touches throughout the film, it’s Knott who really makes this such a memorable picture. He wrote the screenplay and kept most of his original work intact. The movie sharply resembles a play particularly by the fact that the majority of the film takes place in one single setting, a London apartment. Also, the dialogue flows in a way that favors what you would see on stage. But it’s that same dialogue delivered by some really strong performances and mixed with Hitchcock’s slick use of the camera that gives this movie it’s appeal.

“Dial M for Murder” explores the idea of the perfect murder. Ray Milland plays Tony Wendice, a professional tennis player who has enjoyed a lavish lifestyle thanks to his wife Margot’s wealth. After growing frustrated with Tony’s constant absence and busy schedule, Margot (Grace Kelly) begins a fling with an American writer named Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings). Tony finds out about the affair and fearing the loss of his meal ticket, he plans the murder of his unfaithful wife, leaving him her fortune. It’s a foolproof plan, carefully thought out to the smallest detail. But what may look good on paper doesn’t always translate well into real life.

The story is straightforward but structured and it pays great attention to the details. Clues are littered throughout the film with almost every seemingly small action from the characters having some type of relevance. It’s such a tight-knit and well-crafted story and watching it unfold is very satisfying. The story never trips over itself and Hitchcock let’s Knott’s script do most of the heavy lifting. The dialogue drives the film and it doesn’t rely on twists, turns, or red herrings. In fact, the narrative moves in a fairly straight line and never strays from it’s path. But I found it effective especially considering the movie is basically a single location cinematic play.


A movie of this sort only works with strong and grounded performances and “Dial M for Murder” certainly has them. I love watching Ray Milland’s shrewd and savvy Tony. He perfectly relays Tony’s arrogance and overconfidence in a way that never feels disingenuous or overwrought. He has a remarkable screen presence and is perfectly cast. Speaking of screen presence, the gorgeous Grace Kelly is mesmerizing. Whether it be her physical beauty and elegance or her graceful and authentic performance, Kelly steals almost every scene she’s in. I also loved John Williams as Inspector Hubbard. He’s fun, smart, and never misses a beat.

I suppose the location restrictions and the straightforward story could be considered faults especially for those comparing this film to some of Hitchcock’s other movies. But I loved how Hitchcock keeps the Wendice’s apartment fresh with inventive camera shots and clever angles. I can also appreciate the direct although conveniently tidy narrative. It’s an intelligent film that puts a solid story in the hands of some fantastic actors and lets them go from there. I always have fun with “Dial M for Murder” and it’s strongest message is this – keep up with your latchkey!