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The Wrong Box (1966)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime | 4 July 1966 (UK)
In Victorian England, a fortune now depends on which of two brothers outlives the other... or can be made to have seemed to do so!

Director:

Writers:

(suggested by a novel by), (suggested by a novel by) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Lloyd ...
Brian Allen Harvey
James Villiers ...
Sydney Whitcombe Sykes
...
Ian Scott Fife
Nicholas Parsons ...
Alan Frazer Scrope
Willoughby Goddard ...
James Whyte Wragg
...
Oliver Pike Harmsworth
...
Vyvyan Alistair Montague
Hamilton Dyce ...
Derek Lloyd Peter Digby
...
Lawyer
...
Clerk
Donald Oliver ...
Gunner Sergeant
Totti Truman Taylor ...
Lady at Launching
Jeremy Roughton ...
Bugler
Frank Singuineau ...
Native Bearer
Michael Lees ...
Young Digby
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Storyline

A tontine is established for twenty boys in 1818 England - a tontine being a kind of insurance wager in which money is invested by each participant, to grow with interest, with the last survivor to get the substantial payout. We watch the group dwindle until only two elderly brothers are left in 1882. 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 perpetually confused grandson. Statues and bodies are switched, in the wrong boxes, until everyone is sure that one (or both) of the brothers has died. Now if they can only make it seem as if the other brother died first, over a hundred thousand pounds (in Victorian England, when a pound was a pound) will be theirs. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Virtuous maidens...cunning cousins...dastardly deeds...bodies in barrels...and boxes and boxes of boxes!

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

4 July 1966 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

13.000.000 dollaria zitoun klironomo  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2002, the movie's source novel, was adapted into a stage musical. See more »

Goofs

In the aftermath of the train wreck scene, the background sounds (i.e., muttering and exclamatory crowd noises) are "looped" mercilessly, the same few seconds of "babble" are repeated at least ten or fifteen times in a few minutes. See more »

Quotes

[Aboard a train engine after a wreck]
First Driver: Fred?
Stoker: Yeah?
First Driver: We haven't heard the last of this.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

A Bird in a Gilded Cage
(1900) (uncredited)
Music by Harry von Tilzer
In the score for Michael and Julia's kissing scenes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Timeless English comedy, superbly done.
4 August 2001 | by See all my reviews

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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