“I could seduce the President of the United States…but I have no political ambition.” For you LA connoisseurs of obscure ‘70s gems, get thee tonight to the Egyptian Theatre! For the first time in 38-plus years, Nelson Lyon’s The Telephone Book will be playing its first big screen engagement.
Much like ‘69’s Midnight Cowboy, The Telephone Book was branded in ‘71 with an “X,” but now probably plays as no more risque than an episode of Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew. What a cast, though: everyone from Warhol superstar Ultra Violet, to character actor’s character actor, the great William Hickey.
The film presumably involves a woman (Sarah Kennedy) who falls in love with the world’s greatest obscene telephone operator. Here’s what the excellent resource VideoUpdates has to say about it:
The opening quickly establishes a style and mood somewhere between Soviet Montage and a 16mm student film. While its (literally) X-rated nudity and frank discussion of sexuality are hardly shocking in the 21st century, the offbeat humor and profound strangeness seem amplified by the decades. Beyond that, there seems to be a very intelligent undercurrent to the madcap randomness.
Regarding writer-director Lyon, not much comes up on him beyond a brief, early writing stint on SNL, but he was also one of the people doing coke with John Belushi on his last night on earth. He’ll be in attendance tonight (Lyon, not Belushi), so maybe not bring that up during the Q & A? A trailer and clip from The Telephone Book follow below.