Based on the Stephen Potter "One Upmanship" and "Lifemanship" books, Henry Palfrey tries hard to impress but always loses out to the rotter Delauney. Then he discovers the Lifeman college ... See full summary »
Work has been going with a bang for freelance assassin Hawkins but a job in England just after the war is a different matter. His apparently easy target, a pompous government minister, is ... See full summary »
A tontine is established for a dozen children, a tontine being a kind of bet/insurance, money is put in for each to grow with interest and the last survivor is to get the lot. We watch the group dwindle until only two brothers are left. One brother is watched by his nephews who will keep him alive at all costs, the other lives in ill health and poverty as the only support of his fairly stupid grandson. Statues and bodies are switched, in the wrong boxes until everyone is sure someone has died. Now if they can only make it seem as if the other brother died first, hundreds of thousands of pounds (in Victorian England when a pound was a pound) will be theirs. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Just before the train crash you can see the smoke and steam going back into the engines, signifying the trains were in reverse and the film played backwards. See more »
[barging into a funeral]
Alright, come on, come on, what's going on, what is it, come on, come on!
Please, sir, I beg of you. There's a dead man here!
Alright, no one move!
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The end credits are divided into sections, each preceded by an explanatory phrase as follows: for cast positions 1-9 "members of the tontine who came to untimely ends (in order of disappearance)"; for positions 10-17 "assisted by"; for positions 18-24 "The Finsbury Households"; for positions 25-53 "rest of cast in order of appearance" See more »
Little known in the United States, THE WRONG BOX is an absolute must-see for serious students of comedy. The plot revolves around a tontine, a lottery established by the well-heeled fathers of a class of English schoolboys, the proceeds to be awarded after many years to the last surviving member of the class. The story picks up at the point where only two of the classmates are still alive: the brothers Masterman and Joseph Finsbury, who rather detest one another. The plot is full of Finsburys, all of whom want one or the other to die first so they can get a piece of the loot.
Bryan Forbes's direction is first rate, visually exquisite, and even though the convoluted plot is a bit slow to get started, nicely paced. Forbes has a notable cast of experienced actors, and he gives them free reign to perform comedy as only the British can do. The climax chase comes to a head at exactly the right time and is hilarious, the more so because it is marvelously unforced. The actors involved give the impression they're delighted to be in the film, as they should be.
THE WRONG BOX is one of Michael Caine's earlier films and he performs creditably, and Peter Sellers shines in an excellent bit part. Nevertheless, my hat goes off to three other actors who give the performance of their careers: Ralph Richardson, as the quintessential pedant Joseph Finsbury, the world's most boring narcissist; Peter Cook, as Joseph's incessantly scheming nephew who wants to see his uncle die a few seconds after Masterman croaks; and most especially, Wilfrid Lawson as the wondrously torpid Peacock, Masterman's dignified but disheveled butler whose peculiar grunts and malapropisms remain fresh with every viewing of the film. I would put Lawson's performance on a par with Humphrey Bogart's in THE CAINE MUTINY or Fred MacMurray's in DOUBLE INDEMNITY -- it is truly that good.
THE WRONG BOX ranks on a par with THE LIFE OF BRIAN as one of the finest British comedies ever. Enjoy it!
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