Phone Booths exited popular culture with they became obsolete, but not before they were responsible for some fantastic movie moments. Destroying a phone booth may not be a useful skill in this day and age, but some memorable movie scenes reveal the top five ways. Here is the count down.
(By Gabriel Villena/Wikimedia Commons/cropped)
5. Bare Hands
In Goodfellas (1990), Jimmy (Robert De Niro) hears about the death of his friend Tommy (Joe Pesci) while in a phone booth. In a raw display of emotion, Jimmy unleashes his anger on the unfortunate phone booth. First, he goes to work on the phone, repeatedly bashing it into the receiver with his full strength. Not finished, he exits the phone booth, kicks it, and pushes it over. Jimmy is fighting back the tears during the scene, but his violent anger is scary.
In Commando (1985), John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) gets into a brawl with police inside a mall. He chases after Sully (David Patrick Kelly), who has gone into a phone booth to warn of John Matrix's return. As Maxtrix approaches the booth, Sully even fires his gun at him, but his shot misses, and Matrix grabs the booth and starts shaking it. He then rips the booth off the wall and picks it up with his brute strength, Sully still inside. He throws it down before being tackled by a group of police officers. It’s a pretty epic scene that leads into a great chase.
The movie Phone Booth (2002) had to be on this list. Although the phone booth featured in the film is somehow still operational in the end, the entire movie takes place with Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) trapped in a phone booth by a serial killer known only as The Caller (Keifer Sutherland).
At one point, a pimp named Leon (John Enos III) takes a bat to the phone booth after Stu refuses to give up the phone booth to one of his girls. After smashing the booth, Leon puts Stu in a headlock, but Leon never gets the chance to beat up and further destroy the booth as The Caller’s silenced sniper rifle takes him out.
At one point The Caller says, “Isn’t it funny you hear a phone ring and it could be anybody but a ringing phone has to be answered doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?”
One thing is for sure. Phone Booth will make you shiver every time you pick up an unknown number.
Guns are another effective tool for making a phone booth unusable. In Falling Down (1993), D-Fens (Michael Douglass) sees many problems in society. After leaving a phone booth, D-Fens is confronted by an impatient man waiting to use the phone booth. D-Fens takes out an Uzi and riddles the phone booth with bullets.
D-Fens then says, “I think It’s out of order,” before walking away.
In The Matrix (1999), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) barely escapes a bullet from an agent's gun as she disappears back into the real world. The top of the phone explodes, trapping Neo (Keanu Reeves) in the matrix with the agent.
Knock Out (2010) is an Indian movie with a strikingly similar plot to Phone Booth. The film is nonstop action as Tony Khosla (Irrfan Khan) finds himself trapped in a phone booth. Let’s just say the phone booth he’s in doesn’t have bulletproof glass.
Duel (1971) and The Matrix both use giant trucks to obliterate phone booths. In Duel, David Mann (Dennis Weaver) tries to escape the wrath of an unknown trucker. He learns that truck beats phone booth, as he narrowly escapes before the phone booth gets run over.
Similarly, Trinity again escapes a phone booth just in time. As she escapes the matrix through the phone, back to her ship in the real world, a truck driven by an agent smashes the booth to pieces.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986) is also worth mentioning, although it uses a truck differently. Terry Doolittle (Whoopi Goldberg) is pulled through New York City by a tow truck while inside a phone booth. It’s pretty hilarious.
The most creative, unique, and satisfying way to see a phone booth destroyed is from pressure. The Blob (1988) shows us how an amorphous alien handles destroying a phone booth.
In a brilliant scene, Fran Hewitt (Meg Penny) calls the police for help from inside a phone booth. She asks for Sherriff Herb Geller (Jeffrey DeMunn) as the blob begins to surround the phone booth she's hiding in. She uses her foot to keep the door closed as the blob fully encapsulates the phone booth. As its amorphous goo starts to seep inside, it reveals Herb’s dead body as if to mock her. Fran screams, and with special effects that stand up today, the blob explodes into the phone booth crushing her to death instantly.
Honorable Mention: Break Some Glass
There are many films where the glass of a phone booth is broken, but most of the phone booth stays intact. The following movies deserve honorable mentions for interesting ways they break the glass.
- Dumb and Dumber (1994) — In a laugh out loud scene, an annoying guy waiting to use the phone booth is punched through the glass.
- The Birds (1963) — Ravenous killer birds fly into the glass of a phone booth cracking it in this iconic horror scene.
- Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) — When Jason breaks into your phone booth to try and kill you, you are having a bad day.
Phone booths used to get people into a lot of trouble. They are inconvenient and create stress for those who are waiting to use them. They also give people a false sense of safety, or worse, trap them where they are an easy target for whatever monster they are facing, human or otherwise.
Even if you never have to destroy a phone booth, which you probably won’t, at least now you know which movies do it the best. Smartphones are a significant upgrade to phone booths. However, phone booths create much more dramatic movie scenes.