Top 10 Pivotal Phone Plots

By the looks of things, the best actor in ‘One Missed Call’ is the mobile phone.

In the film, out on DVD this weekend, Beth Raymond is traumatized when she witnesses the gruesome deaths of two friends just days apart. Even more disturbing, she knows that both of them had received chilling cell phone messages–actual recordings of their own horrifying last moments. Impossibly, the calls were received days before they died, but each death occurred precisely when and how the messages foretold. As Raymond searches for the truth her own phone begins to ring with an eerie tune, and the readout says “One Missed Call”…


Scary? The jury’s still out but one thing’s for sure, it’s not the first film that has relied on the humble telephone as a major plot device. Here we chart the history of the phone in the motion picture- you’ll never look at your Nokia the same way again!



















(1) DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954)

The title says it all in Hitchcock’s 1954 thriller ‘Dial M for Murder’.  The film stars Ray Milland as Tony, a jealous husband plotting to kill his adulterous wife. Where does the phone come in? Well, Tony plans to call his wife at an arranged time, when a paid assassin will do the deed.



The 1976 expose of the Watergate affair is essentially a series of phone exchanges.  Based on the real life events, it’s the phone that exposes Nixon and one of the greatest political scandals of the 20th century.


(3) E.T. (1982)

You couldn’t leave him out, it’s everyone’s favourite alien E.T with possibly the most famous phone inspired film quotes ever uttered, ‘E.T. phone home’ – someone get the ‘man’ a phone!



Bill and Ted relied on a time machine disguised as a phone booth to help them get an A+ on their oral report. Originally, the time machine was to be a 1969 Chevrolet van, but the idea was nixed as being too close in concept to the De Lorean used in the Back to the Future trilogy. Instead, the time machine was styled after a 1960s American telephone booth.


(5) SPEED (1994) 

Bomb on a bus, 50 miles per hour yada yada yada. Remember it, of course it’s the plot the Speed, the 1994 film which relies so heavily on the phone to keep the pace of the film rapid and suspenseful.


(6) The Matrix (1999)

One of the first films to give a mobile phone centre stage was The Matrix. In it, Keanu Reeves relies on a Nokia 8110, aka ‘the banana phone’, to contact the ‘real’ world. The 8110 was one of Nokia’s first slider phones and came with a relatively basic feature set but became a huge success with Matrix fans.


(7) PHONE BOOTH (2002)

It’s an Irish man in a phone booth and, surprisingly, he’s not using it as a bathroom… In Phone Booth, a New York publicist, played by Colin Farrell, is a prolific mobile phone user who becomes a hostage in a phone box — he’s avoiding using his mobile so he can call a girl he’s trying to woo and not get caught by his girlfriend. Morality tales via the medium of the phone… someone hang up!


(8) THE RING (2002)

The ‘INSERT WITTY CAPTION HERE’ Ring was an American adaptation of Japenese horror classic ‘Ringu’. In it a mysterious video tape is killing off anyone who watches it. Whenever the victim watches it, the phone rings, telling them they have only one week to live. Based on the 1998 Japanese horror Ringu, the only thing more disturbing than the phone call is the what happens later on the telly….


(9) CELLULAR (2004)

In Cellular a young man receives a call on his cellular phone from a woman who says she’s been kidnapped, and thinks she’s going to be killed soon. The catch? She doesn’t know where she is… and his cell phone battery might go dead soon. If only Kim Basinger had answered the call from her agent she wouldn’t have ended up in this z-list mobile phone thriller.



He may have ever gadget under the sun, but where would Bond be without his mobile phone? Think back to the recent ‘Casino Royale’ when 007 discovered the enigmatic code word ‘ellipsis’ in the Bond baddie Sebastian Foucan’s mobile, and you’ll see just how pivotal phones are to the plot.

‘One Missed Call’ is out on DVD in Ireland on September 26th