ASCII by Jason Scott

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Tennis Court Phone —



There’s a strange bit of editing in Debbie Does Dallas I wanted to point out, since there’s something filmatic to be learned from it.

Debbie Does Dallas, in case you’ve missed it, is one of the most successful porn films of all time. The plot, such as it is, concerns some girls who are cheerleaders and want to go to Dallas. They need to raise money, and after they utterly fail at this, they determine that they can make money if they have sex with men for cash. I think I’ve caught the whole zeitgeist.

To this end, the movie is split into two distinct arcs: before and after the girls (Debbie, specifically) figure out that just flashing customers or employers will get even more cash than working. This set of arcs means that situations (working in record store, working in sports store, tennis instruction) are shown twice. Because the film was low budget, they shot both scenes concurrently.

So, in the shots I grabbed here, there’s a scene in the beginning where one of the girls helps two guys play tennis. Later, after this ground-breaking alternative funds acquisition methodology is discovered, she wears no underwear and she goes to a sauna and hooks up with them.

Somewhere in here, though, someone made an interesting choice.

It was decided that she needed to communicate with other characters that her approach of seducing/being seduced by the tennis players was a good idea and the other characters should do it. So they have her call them. 

Except she’s on a tennis court. And a setup in another location is more needless filming.

So they combined it. They put a phone on the tennis court.

It’s really completely odd, when you look at it.


I mean, it is literally that – a phone in the middle of a tennis court. It’s not on a table, or in a booth, or inside a cooler, or anything. The cord just kind of goes in another direction, off screen. She picks it up and talks on it.

Someone decided this was a good enough idea to bring the phone into the shot, set it up, and leave it while they did the filming. Someone decided this was a proper link between scenes. It is so jarring, I get re-surprised by it every time I see this movie, or catch a reference to it… the Tennis Phone. What the hell, man.

A lot of times, I see films with metaphorical Tennis Phones, jammed into places they shouldn’t be.  When desperation sets, when you find you have no link between two scenes or a character utterly lacks motivation, you sometimes have to fall back on your tennis phone. But the tennis phone should have been fixed long before you stepped on the court.

Either that, or you need lots and lots and lots of hardcore pornography. Just saying.

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  1. Flack says:

    I’m not sure what this says about your demographic — a group of middle aged men discussing a telephone in Debbie Does Dallas. We are truly sad.

    My favorite detail is the phone cord. It’s like someone said, “Well, duh, without a phone cord it would be completely unbelievable

    PS: Debbie Does Dallas, telephone … I’m sure there’s a “redboxing” joke in there somewhere …

  2. Kizzle says:

    “There’s a strange bit of editing in Debbie Does Dallas I wanted to point out, since there’s something filmatic to be learned from it.”

    I love this blog.

  3. Jim Leonard says:

    The destined-to-be-a-classic The Room is full of these things. My favorite is the steps+door on the top of the roof, which only serves to introduce and dismiss characters. Rather than find a better location to shoot than a rooftop, they went through the trouble of building a fake door on top of the roof so that they could shuffle characters around.

  4. Josef Kenny says:

    Wow. Tennis Phone. What a much needed phrase. Having realized that it’s now the best phrase ever, I came across this:

    Don’t you just LOVE the dedication squatter ‘search’ portals? They even bothered to render the nice reflecty text at the top, unless they have some system that sticks two words together, buys the domain of it and script-fu’s a logo like that.

  5. Decius says:

    >Either that, or you need lots and lots and lots of hardcore pornography.

    of course, you always need lots^3 of hardcore pornography.

  6. Church says:

    Awesome! “Sorry Sweetie, I need to watch this as part of my filmography education. No, look, it’s here on the web. Totally legit.”

    I so owe you one…

  7. Connor Petty says: