Telefon (1977) - Rotten Tomatoes

Telefon (1977)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Don Siegel took over the directing chores from Peter Hyams on this taut cold war action film, based on the novel by Walter Wager. With the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union thawing, old KGB hard-liner Nicolai Dalchimsky (Donald Pleasence) activates a group of Americans who were brainwashed twenty years earlier to blow up United States defenses when a passage from a Robert Frost poem is recited to them. When bombs go off at an abandoned United States defense installation, the Kremlin realizes that they have a rogue KGB agent on their hands who is trying to re-ignite the cold war. To stop him, the Russians send out KGB agent Grigori Borzov (Charles Bronson). Accompanying him is KGB double agent Barbara (Lee Remick). As the two agents try to stop Nicolai from starting World War III, they find time to fall in love with each other.

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Charles Bronson
as ''Bortsov''
Lee Remick
as ''Barbara''
Donald Pleasence
as Nikolai Dalchimsky
Tyne Daly
as Dorothy Putterman
Alan Badel
as ''Colonel Malchenko''
Sheree North
as Marie Wills
Patrick Magee
as General Strelsky
Frank Marth
as Harley Sandburg
Helen Page Camp
as Emma Stark
Roy Jenson
as Doug Stark
Jacqueline Scott
as Mrs. Hassler
Ed Bakey
as Carl Hassler
John Mitchum
as Harry Bascom
Iggie Wolfington
as Father Stuart Diller
Kathleen O'Malley
as Mrs. Maloney
Åke Lindman
as Lt. Alexandrov
Ansa Konen
as Dalchimsky's Mother
Hank Brandt
as William Enders
John Carter
as Stroller
John Hambrick
as TV Newsman
Henry Alfaro
as TV Reporter
Glenda Wina
as TV Anchorwoman
Jim Nolan
as Appliance Store Clerk
Burton Gilliam
as Gas Station Attendant
George Petrie
as Hotel Receptionist
Jeff David
as Maitre d'
Carl Byrd
as Navy Lieutenant
Lew Brown
as Petty Officer
Peter Weiss
as Radar Operator
Robert Phillips
as Highway Patrolman
Cliff Emmich
as Highway Patrolman
Alex Sharp
as Martin Callender
Margaret Hall Baron
as Airport Clerk
Al Dunlap
as Taxi Driver
Sean Moloney
as Hot Rod Kid
Ville Veikko Salminen
as Russian Steward
Teppo Heiskanen
as Hockey Player
Mika Levio
as Hockey Player
Marlene Hazlett
as Tourist Family
Tom Runyon
as Tourist Family
Claudia Butler
as Tourist Family
Philippe Butler
as Tourist Family
Stephanie Ann Rydall
as Mrs. Wills' Child
Derek Rydall
as Mrs. Wills' Child
View All

Critic Reviews for Telefon

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (6)

Instead of winding tighter and tighter, as a suspense story should, Telefon just winds down, rather like -- come to think of it -- a phone call between two people who don't really have much to say to each other.

July 21, 2015 | Full Review…

Following Telefon is about as thrilling as being kept on hold for the better part of the day.

July 21, 2015 | Full Review…

Tyne Daly is notable as a CIA staffer. Remick's teaming with Bronson is a graceful one for both players.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Most disappointing is Siegel's contribution: he, of all directors, should have been able to inject some life into the proceedings, but this is his most nondescript outing in years.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

To describe Telefon as synthetic is to take it more seriously than it's taken by anyone connected with it.

May 9, 2005

Apart from a certain energy evident in the cutting, you'd never know it was the work of Don Siegel, a generally excellent action director.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Telefon

Telefon is an intriguing spy thriller from Don Siegel, and while it does have its moments, it also falls short of expectations. It just lacks that extra something seen in other Siegel films.

The plot is a good one and it has a ton of potential. The Soviet Union has placed 50+ brainwashed sleeper agents all over the United States and suddenly, one by one, they begin to carry out their purpose of blowing up key military installations. I say that is a great concept for a spy movie.

The first 20 minutes are great as it involves the telephone calls, in which the culprit delivers the "trigger" phrases, to set the sleeper agent in motion. These "trigger" phrases are what Tarantino uses in his movie Deathproof. The main character of Charles Bronson doesn't show up until the 20 minute mark and that is where the film begins to lose its pizazz. The rest of the film focuses less on the sleeper agents and more on Bronson's attempt to stop the culprit from triggering the rest of them. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but watching the agents get the telephone calls and carrying out their missions are the high points of this picture.

Charles Bronson is a little flat. If you combine this with Don Siegel's directing you get a movie that doesn't live up to the hype. Fortunately, the supporting cast gets the job done. Donald Pleasance is a good "trigger" man and Lee Remick is a beautiful partner for Bronson. Tyne Daly gives a solid performance as a computer wiz, but her part of the story feels incomplete and unnecessary.

Telefon may not be great, but it is still a better than average movie that Charles Bronson or Donald Pleasance fans may want to check out.

JY Skacto
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

Assassins living as normal Americans are programed to kill when they are given a certain phrase (I'll think of the word later and replace this... what the hell is the word I'm looking for? Let's just say a "trigger" word). Like Manchurian Candidate if Bronson had been there to kick all kinds of ass.

Christopher  Brown
Christopher Brown

Super Reviewer

A rather flat and dour cold war thriller starring a rather flat and dour Charles Bronson as a Russian agent sent to kill a cell of sleeper agents who are activated by a fanatical Stalinist. It's an interesting idea, but none of Siegel's trademark intensity and panache is in evidence and Bronson is at his least charismatic.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Telefon Quotes

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