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Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery | 24 September 1948 (USA)
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While on the telephone, an invalid woman overhears what she thinks is a murder plot and attempts to prevent it.

Director:

Anatole Litvak

Writers:

Lucille Fletcher (radio play), Lucille Fletcher (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Directors: Marshall Neilan, Mary Pickford
Stars: Mary Pickford, Anders Randolf, Marc McDermott
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Leona Stevenson
Burt Lancaster ... Henry J. Stevenson
Ann Richards ... Sally Hunt Lord
Wendell Corey ... Dr. Philip Alexander
Harold Vermilyea ... Waldo Evans
Ed Begley ... James 'J.B.' Cotterell
Leif Erickson ... Fred Lord
William Conrad ... Morano
John Bromfield ... Joe - Detective
Jimmy Hunt ... Peter Lord
Dorothy Neumann ... Elizabeth Jennings
Paul Fierro Paul Fierro ... Harpootlian
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Storyline

Leona Stevenson is sick and confined to her bed. One night, whilst waiting for her husband to return home, she picks up the phone and accidentally overhears a conversation between two men planning a murder. She becomes increasingly desperate as she tries to work out who the victim is so the crime can be prevented. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Tangled Wires... Whispering of Murder! Tangled Lives... Fighting to Escape! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 September 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Du lebst noch 105 Minuten See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hal Wallis Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the time this film was made, Leona's number PLaza 5-1098 was a telephone company test number that always gave a busy signal when called. See more »

Goofs

Shortly before the end of the movie the bedside telephone is shown in closeups and the paint is chipped in several places. However, at the end of the film, the telephone is pristine. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Leona Stevenson: Operator! Operator! Operator!
Voice of Operator: Your call please?
Leona Stevenson: Operator, I've been ringing Murray Hill 35097 for the last half hour and the line is always busy. Will you ring it for me, please?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Paramount Presents (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Tangerine
(1941) (uncredited)
Music by Victor Schertzinger
Played on the car radio
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Gimmicky noir still shocks despite its shortcomings
10 June 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Chrome-plated hokum, Sorry, Wrong Number works despite itself. And works and works. Starting out as a radio drama by Lucille Fletcher in the 1940s, it boasted umpteen performances plus a 1946 production in the nascent medium of television before Anatole Litvak turned it into film noir. During most of its earlier incarnations, Agnes Moorehead created the role of the hysterical, bedridden heiress, the `cough drop queen,' but the film fell into the lap of the First Lady of Film Noir, Barbara Stanwyck. Moorehead was more than a strong enough actress, but Hollywood required a star.

The Irony is that Sorry, Wrong Number is far from her finest hour on screen. Rarely has one been made so aware of Stanwyck `acting' in the most unabashedly actressy way. And the same can be said of Burt Lancaster who, when a role didn't set well with him, communicated his discomfort blatantly. In The Rose Tattoo, against Anna Magnani, he was ingratiating and unconvincing ; here, he's almost as awkward as the henpecked husband in whom the worm has at long last turned.

But maybe Fletcher's slice of devil's food cake calls for mannered histrionics. Ensconced in her bedchamber one sweltering Manhattan evening, her pill bottles and her telephone at her elbow, Stanwyck eavesdrops on a sinister conversation – a murder is being plotted – thanks to a crossed line. This makes her even more restive, and she starts working the phone, tracking down her tardy husband. Litvak `ventilates' these calls, turning them into a series of flashbacks filling in the background to what will prove a very bad evening for Stanwyck. (The sequences on Staten Island, however, could have sprung from the pen of Franklin W. Dixon, the Hardy Boys' puppeteer.)

Unavoidably talky, owing to its source, Sorry, Wrong Number moves inexorably to its preordained end. Basically, it's a gimmick, and one that Hitchcock might have fine-tuned into a nifty infernal machine. Litvak doesn't do badly, though, and the movie's shock value outlasts its staled conventions. Its most chilling moment comes when Stanwyck frantically dials a number that she thinks will give her solace. But her answer is `BOwery 2-1000 – the City Morgue.'


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