It takes a very talented performer to hang up on a mobile handset and make it seem dramatic. Watching someone scream and swear before tapping the red ‘End Call’ button is anti-climatic at best, infantile at worst. Aforementioned actor can’t simply dial it up a notch by throwing it on the floor either, because mobiles are expensive and nobody does that; it just wouldn’t ring true. Old phones, though, are another story. Nothing conveys anger or grief as cinematically as smashing the buttons off of a nice corded household telephone. Below is a list of the top five phone ‘hanging uppings’ in the history of film.
5. An American Werewolf in London (1981) – John Woodvine’s Dr Hirsch has led an adventurous and varied life, and his experiences have shaped him into a most accomplished and well-spoken of fellows. Chess master,whisky connoisseur, Chief of Medicine in a central London hospital, veteran of WWII – his accolades are almost a burden. A man of such accomplishments is bound to have a lot of friends, but when lycanthropic New Yorkers are tearing up the streets (and those walking them), he simply can’t be taking time to reminisce with his fellow ‘Rommel survivors’. Rather than making up excuses for his secretary to tell the unexpected guest, Hirsch goes straight for the endgame; ‘Look, just tell him I’m dead!’ *Slams phone*
4. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) – This one isn’t a phone per se – in this case the definition has been extended to include radio comms. Steve Wissou and crew have just successfully mounted a rescue operation on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. With a horde of furious and now Jeff Goldblum-less Filipino pirates on their back, Steve checks in to the mother ship for evac. Before he can complete his distress call, the swash(ed up)buckling sea farer discovers that his talkie is ‘outta juice’. Santos the sailor then snatches the hardware from Steve’s hands, and to everyone’s approval he proceeds to dash it upon the rocky beachhead. Later, they got plastered on the poop deck and did some barknucle boxing. Do you get it? Barnacles attach themselves to boats, and in the film they were on a boat, and they were boxing in the classical bare knuckled fashion, so… and bare knuckle and barnacle sound similar, so….
3. Goodfellas (1990) – Tommy ‘funny-like-a-clown’ Devito fully deserved his fate, but that don’t make the hurt no less for lifelong friend James Conway. When he learns of Devito’s ‘whack’, his initial response is to do some whacking of his own…phone whacking, that is. De Niro exudes the mafia man’s impotent rage with heartfelt perfection. If it were Ron Burgundy in that phone booth, he would probably say something like; ‘I’m trapped in a glass case of emotion! And a bit of metal. A glass and metal case of emotion!’
2. Slapshot (1977) – In the build-up to the Charlestown Chiefs make or break Hockey match, Paul Newman’s Reg Dunlop puts a bounty on the opposing team’s captain… live on air! Back at home, Reg gets a call from the Chief’s chief, who informs him that he quite simply can’t do something like that. Quick as a puck struck by a Hanson brother, Reg anwers; ‘I just did’. Then he hangs up and goes to sleep. That man never masks his feelings or pads out his words… he’s as cold as ice…. he ain’t no goon that’s for sure, and he really knows how to stick it to em’… Sorry. For Everything.
1. In Bruges (2008) – As is so effusively demonstrated below, Ralph Fiennes has a tendency to smash his phone to pieces when he doesn’t like the tone of the conversation. When people say to him down the line; ‘Hold on, its cracking up on your end’, they probably mean it literally.