TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: "All the President's Men" (Still More Movie Phone Trivial)

"All the President's Men" (Still More Movie Phone Trivial)

Sam Spade (
Tue, 19 Jun 2007 06:25:30 -0700 wrote:

> As mentioned, in TV and films the dialing of a telephone can slow down
> the pace. Often characters improperly "spun" the dial or dialed fewer
> digits to speed up the scene.

> But in this movie they purposely dailed deliberately as part of the
> drama. Indeed, they not only dialed the full seven digit number, they
> also dialed the 9 for the outside line and even paused waiting for the
> second dial tone. This was when Redford was calling various CREEP
> officers to track down money given to the Watergate burglars. There
> was a TV set on in the background, adding to the scene.

> I think of this movie as "modern" since it is in color and relatively
> recent as compared to the B&W films shown on TCM made in the 1930s and
> 40s. But of course this film is 30 years which is not very new,
> obviously.

Washington, DC had quite a few ESS offices when Watergate happened,
which is a different environment than "Wrong Number" or "Dial M for
Murder." ;-)

> The other notable aspect of this film was the _lack_ of computers and
> other automated devices to help them in their research, all the things
> we take for granted today. Redford had a _manual_ typewriter, as was
> common for reporters in newsrooms in those years. Wire service came
> over classic Teletypes operating at the princely speed of seven
> characters per second. After typing their copy, it was edited by
> hand, then sent to Linotype machine operators to set type.

But, typewriters had come a long way, with correcting Selectrics. ;-)

> There were mobile phones in those days, but probably only the
> newspaper's owner had one. All the rest made do with pay phones. All
> reporters kept a mental note of where pay phones were located so as to
> be able to call in stories. Other reporters were on duty at phone
> banks (spacesaver sets with headsets) to take down the information
> phoned in.

When Watergate happened, the only mobile phones were those giant
bricks mounted in the car, and which transmitted and received in the
open on VHF low, where every sharp kid with a scanner could hear the
conversation with ease. ;-)

>> If they wanted to research anything historical, it meant a trip to
>> the library and _serially_ scanning through microfilm reels. Slow
>> and tedious.

>> It's amazing the differences in a reporter's work then vs. now.
>> One difference was that newspapers had much larger circulation in
>> those days.

Sadly, the daily newspaper is going the way of the buggy whip.

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