The Telephone Book

Production Year: 1971
Release Date: 05/07/2013
Studio: Vinegar Syndrome
Collection Number: 1172

The Telephone Book is Vinegar Syndrome's latest foray into high-definition.  I can honestly say that every aspect of the film is a extremely offbeat and strange from the story all the way to the editing.  The film is about a young woman named Alice (Sarah Kennedy) who gets a very obscene phone call one morning.  Rather than being put off by the vulgarities she is turned on and soon becomes infatuated with the mysterious caller.

 The perverted man continues to call and Alice manages to talk an identity out of him.  "John Smith," is the big reveal, he also hints that he is in the Manhattan phone book.  Alice begins to search but you can probably imagine just how many John Smiths there would be in a directory, this manages to be a bit of a hunt.  Her search takes her all over the city and along the way she manages to run into all sorts of people, some nice, some strange, others dangerous.

While the film is a linear story, during her adventures there are a handful of vignettes edited in, mostly of strange men talking about their obsession with obscene phone calls.  If the story itself wasn't odd enough for you, that should push it over the ledge.  There's also a very off-kilter color animation sequence thrown that really contrasts with the rest of the film's black and white setting.

I didn't like this one as much as their last high def release, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy some of it.  I found Sarah Kennedy to be great in the role of Alice, she certainly was the highlight of the film.  Her perverted obsession clashing with what seemed to be an almost naive innocence really made the character.  That's not to take any light off of Norman Rose who was certainly just as good in his role as Mr. Smith, his whole astronaut monologue was as convincing as it was bizarre.  She runs into a lot of different characters all exaggerated stereotypes, one generally worse than the last.  Suffice it to say the film was never boring and managed to keep my attention all the way to the trippy animation sequence that was it's ending.

So let's get to the technical aspects...The film itself looks pretty good, especially considering the lack of materials Vinegar Syndrome had to pull a decent print from.  While the PQ suffers a bit from some damage it's still a strong looking transfer.  The sound presented is a solid 2.0 track, there's also the included option for commentary (producer, Merv Bloch.)  Finishing the disc are two theatrical trailers, a still gallery, and a series of radio spots.

While I did like The Telephone Book, it isn't as great as it's reputation would lead you to believe, I would only recommend it to fans of bizarre sexploitation films.  I say go in with no expectations, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.


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