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10 Plot-Changing Movie Phone Calls

Telephones have always been the Achilles' heel of screenwriters, here are the calls that connected.

Dimension Films

Given the near-congruence of their invention and development, it's somewhat surprising to see how the telephone has stymied screenwriters for the past century. The last 30 years has sent audiences groaning every time a character, otherwise stranded or damned, announces that their cell phone has no service. But even before the cell became a mainstay of modern living, scenes played out ignoring logical questions regarding human behaviour ("Why don't they call the police?" "Hit *69!").

The truly gifted screenwriter treated the phone as a novelty - a plot device on which the film's entire hook may rely. But other, more lazy writers tend to ignore the modern convenienes, particularly if they're writing a particularly silly slasher movie.

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Here are the calls that mattered.

10. Lost Highway

October Films

Critics and even some fans were perplexed by David Lynch's Lost Highway, a head trip through the seedy, bizarre streets of Los Angeles, and they wouldn't be alone. The director himself, in a rare instance wherein he openly talked about his influences, claimed he only realized he was indirectly driven by the spectacle and circus surrounding the O.J. Simpson trial.

So it's just as well, and oddly portentous, that the earth-shattering break before jazz sax player Bill Pullman's world falls apart is from another acquitted (but arguably guilty) fading celebrity: a ghost-like Robert Blake.

Beretta appears to Pullman at a party early in the film, as our protagonist (for now) has been having dreams of his wife being murdered. Blake, pasty and creepy as all get out, informs Pullman that he is, despite appearances, not at the party, but in fact at his home.

He calls home, only to find Blake answering on the other end, all the while his ghost-like apparation eerily grinning.

Soon Pullman's wife does meet a grisly fate that he is convicted of before body switching into a teenage mechanic who works for Richard Pryor and Robert Loggia.

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And this was one of Lynch's more straightforward works, in that the plot seemingly unfolds linearly, if not explicitly. We'll take

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Contributor
Contributor

Kenny Hedges is carbon-based. So I suppose a simple top 5 in no order will do: Halloween, Crimes and Misdemeanors, L.A. Confidential, Billy Liar, Blow Out He has his own website - thefilmreal.com - and is always looking for new writers with differing views to broaden the discussion.