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During D-day several people become trapped while hiding in a bunker, when heavy shelling collapses it. They have plenty of food and water so they decide to wait for rescuers. And so they wait year, after year, after year.
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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>
When Ralph Richardson was offered the part of Joseph Finsbury, he was finishing work on Doctor Zhivago (1965). Richardson wrote to director Bryan Forbes from the location in Spain and asked if he could wear the same jacket he had worn as Alexander in "Zhivago". Forbes agreed, and Richardson did so. See more »
The solicitor says that the money has been returned, but the bank notes are seen blowing in the wind. See more »
I was wondering - do you by any chance happen to have any - uh - death certificates?
Do I happen to have any death certificates? What a monstrous thing, sir - what a monstrous thing to say to a member of the medical profession! Do you realize the enormity of what you have just said?
Yes. Do you have any death certificates?
How many do you want?
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"Certain funeral & military airs played by Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Temperance Seven who actually number eight" 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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