Monday, September 5, 2011

Out of Touch

So a thunderstorm came through overnight, caused a transformer fire, and knocked out fire for ten hours. That, combined with the power outage from Hurricane Irene and one of the movies that aired over the weekend, left me thinking about being out of touch with the world. No, not the sort of out of touch seen in some of the generation gap movies of the 1960s, but the sort where you can't be reached.

In The Finger Points on Saturday, a kep point in the plot involves Richard Barthelmess' character not being able to be reached by phone because he's not at his apartment. A few years back, I was watching Alibi at my parents' house early one morning after shovelling them out after a snowstorm, an dther ewas one point where one of the characters (I think Chester Morris' character) wasn't answering the telephone, to which my father joked, "Maybe they should call him on his cell phone."

In fact, I've seen a number of people suggest on various web boards that it was common in the past to have plot points involving people unable to be reached by phone, and that this is a problem that would easily be solved today by the ubiquity of cell phones. I suppose that's true if you have unoriginal writers. In the case of The Finger Points, I think the Barthelmess character didn't wan't to be reached, as he and his girlfriend were going to be running off together. If he'd had a cell phone, either it would have been turned off or he simply wouldn't have taken the call. That's not at all uncommon if people are in restaurants or at the movies or, for something that shows up a lot more in today's films, in the middle of love-making. (Unless you're one of those kinky people who likes texting during sex.) And if you're trying to find somebody who's been kidnapped by triangulating the location of their cell phone between the nearest towers, I suppose a bright criminal would get around that (and this would also prevent the phone from receiving calls) by placing the phone inside a Faraday cage. Or just throw the damn thing in the river.

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