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Fairy of the Phone, The (1936)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A 'fairy' appears tip-toeing across a telephone wire. She flicks through a telephone directory before cheekily addressing the audience. Making the telephone service better depends on the user, the GPO and the distant subscriber.

Some of the callers that will appear later in the film are shown: a greedy schoolboy, a posh madam, a mad inventor and a slothful golfer. The joyful telephone exchange staff are presented, followed by a man, Mr Samuel Parsnips, who is upset to be disturbed while shaving.

The elderly inventor is working through a pile of telephone directories; they are old and covered in dust and one has mice living in it. They are magically removed and replaced by spanking new ones.

Next, the posh madam attempts to call Mr Parsnips. She is impatient and is chided by the narrator for wanting to hang up too quickly. Eventually, the 'fairy' appears in front of Mr Parsnips and encourages him to answer the phone. He answers politely as himself, then again in the style of a cleaner and a businessman.

The slothful golfer finds his phone call engaged - he must phone again later. The posh lady is unable to understand her son on the phone as he is eating while speaking, which irritates a watching statue. The slothful golfer still waits to be connected; Mr Parsnips has left his phone off the hook.

A woman attempts to phone Balham but mistakenly phones the mad professor. She is told to dial 0 in order to speak to the exchange and get the correct number. The mad professor's laboratory catches fire and he phones 999 and is rescued by the fire brigade.

International calls are illustrated by way of a sequence set in a stereotypically defined Near East. A gentleman with a turban is sat surrounded by girls feeding him bananas. Mr Parsnips ignores his telephone alarm call.

All the characters assemble to sing and dance, acclaiming the virtues of the sensible and modern telephone service. This is interrupted by the arrival of the telephone 'Fairy', tripping down some stairs. Recovering, is presented with some wilting flowers, while the song and dance conclude.