Made during the last years of General Franco’s right-wing dictatorship in Spain, La Cabina (“The Telephone Box”) is a 1972 short film directed by Spanish director Antonio Mercero, and written by him and José Luis Garci. The movie stars José Luis López Vázquez.
In the 35-minute film, a man becomes trapped in a telephone booth, while passers-by seem unable to help him.
An unnamed company installs a phone booth in the middle of a square. Later, a man takes his son to the school bus. He enters the phone booth to make a call and the door slowly closes behind him. The man realizes that the phone doesn’t work, so he tries to leave only to discover that the door is stuck. He tries desperately to get it open, but nothing works.
Two business men come by and try to help him out, but to no avail – this gathers the attention of many passersby who begin to congregate and watch the action. Several people (including a strong man, a repair man and a police officer) try to open the door but it remains stuck.
Eventually a firefighter tries to break open the glass roof of the phone booth when the phone booth company appears. They unbolt the booth and take the booth (with the man inside it) away on their truck. The crowd cheers and gladly waves the man away. The man watches frantically as he is carted across town. He tries to scream for help from people, but everyone just smiles and waves. Journeying across town, the man becomes increasingly frantic, is there any escape?
The film was originally made for Spanish television but was screened occasionally in the UK during the 1980s, late at night on both BBC2 and Channel 4.
In recent years, a Spanish TV advert parodied the film with the same actor in a telephone box on an isolated moor, but this time managing to escape. It was an advert for Retevision, a newly created company that meant the end of monopoly for former state agency Telefonica, and liberalisation of the telecom market in Spain.