Caller, The (1987)

US / 97 minutes / color / Empire Dir: Arthur Allan Seidelman Pr: Frank Yablans Scr: Michael Sloane Cine: Daniele Nannuzzi Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Madolyn Smith.

A woman (Smith) who lives alone in the forest senses she’s been followed home by a stalker, and sure enough that evening a caller (McDowell) knocks on her door claiming his car has broken down nearby and asking to use the phone. The two start engaging in verbal games, it being revealed in their sparring that each knows rather too much about the other for them to be merely casual strangers. Over the next couple of days the caller invades her life to a greater and greater extent, questioning her about her dead husband and her missing lover and daughter Alison. Is she perhaps a multiple murderer? Or is he the murderer, preying upon the suggestibility of a pitifully lonely woman?

For the most part this reads like a borderline noirish psychological thriller along the lines of, for example, DEATH AND THE MAIDEN (1994) and Una PURA FORMALITA (1994), with a dash of Twilight Zone thrown in. It’s a surprise to discover this is not in fact based on a stage play, because it’s all done in a very stagebound style, that impression being strengthened by the fact that this is quite literally a two-hander: no one appears aside from the two principals. The sciencefictional denouement feels like a copout, even though the screenplay has played perfectly fair with us.

A year or so after this movie was made and a year or so before it finally saw its (DTV) release (it had a couple of festival screenings, including at Cannes, but no theatrical distribution), Smith married hockey player Mark Osborne, being thereafter billed—on her relatively few further appearances—as Madolyn Smith Osborne.

On The Caller

5 thoughts on “Caller, The (1987)

  1. I happened to come across your blog. Looks very cool.

    Please let me intro. myself. We are very fortunate that Malcolm has attached himself to our upcoming film BEREAVE and he loves it so much that we are doing a #Kickstarter campaign where he is personally involved in awesome perk fulfillment. So far we have sold some great perks like dinner w/ Malcolm, premiere & party, download of completed film, roles in the film, days on set and more! We are at $38,000 with 16 days to go, but need to reach $100,000. It’s doable! But we need to get the word out, let the world know it is happening; reach his fans. Press is brutal and very stingy. So we’re going grass roots with it. Do you think you could post a little something on your blog if you like what you see? Please let us know. We would be extremely grateful to you! Here is a link to our campaign:

    As you may or may not know, Kickstarter is an all or nothing platform for crowd funding. If the campaign does not hit its goal, the backer is not charged anything. If we do hit our goal, the backers make history and produce our wonderful drama/romance starring Malcolm McDowell, Neve Campbell & JJ Feild.

    Evangelos Giovanis

  2. Thanks very much for the comment.

    The nature of this blog is that posts consist of entries/reviews of films noirs and related movies. However, yours seems a good enough cause that, if I may, I’ll copy and paste your comment as a future post. I hope this helps!

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