A flatbed truck pulls up at the entrance of a park in a Spanish city with a telephone box sitting on it. The workmen get out and carry the box to a paved area, set up the telephone inside and leave. Time passes and nobody pays the kiosk much notice, not the children, not the nuns, not anybody really, until a man (José Luís López Vázquez) and his son hove into view and the boy kicks his football into the box. The father reacts sternly, but the boy retrieves it and they go to the bus stop where he can catch the school bus. On walking back to the park, the man decides to make a call, but finds the phone out of order. And that the door of the box is stuck. He can't get out.
From that simple premise came one of the most memorable short films of the seventies. It's such a great idea, with such a shocking pay off, that it has lodged in the minds of all those who saw it during its occasional showings on European television: I saw it on Channel 4 in the eighties and have never forgotten it. Written and directed by Antonio Mercero, it starts off as a silly comedy, with the unfortunate gentleman trying and failing to keep his dignity as he is made fun of by passersby, but as the slightly sinister music indicates, it's not all easy laughs and is more about the fickleness of cruel fate.
In fact, it's a situation that turns nightmarish over the course of the half hour running time. You can see why it's stuck with so many people, as it's just the thing that you might catch while waiting for something else, yet end up completely absorbed in how the story will resolve itself. The man has assistance in his attempts to get free, but aside from falling over and wrenching off the door handle by accident, they're not much help. When the fire brigade arrive, they plan to smash their way in with a sledgehammer, but at the moment they are about to, the workmen show up once more, pick up the box containing the man and lift it onto the back of their truck. Then they drive away with him through the city and out into the countryside... The power of the final twist is as much due to the lack of reason behind what has happened as it is to the horror of it all, and the result is a small masterpiece that The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected would have wished they could get away with every week.