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The Wrong Box (1966)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime | 1 July 1966 (UK)
Trailer
3:32 | Trailer

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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:

Bryan Forbes

Writers:

Robert Louis Stevenson (suggested by a novel by), Lloyd Osbourne (suggested by a novel by) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Mills ... Masterman Finsbury
Ralph Richardson ... Joseph Finsbury
Michael Caine ... Michael Finsbury
Peter Cook ... Morris Finsbury
Dudley Moore ... John Finsbury
Nanette Newman ... Julia Finsbury
Tony Hancock ... Detective
Peter Sellers ... Doctor Pratt
Cicely Courtneidge Cicely Courtneidge ... Major Martha
Wilfrid Lawson ... Peacock - the Butler
Thorley Walters Thorley Walters ... Lawyer Patience
Gerald Sim Gerald Sim ... 1st Undertaker
Peter Graves ... Military Officer
Irene Handl ... Mrs. Hackett
Norman Bird ... Clergyman
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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:

UK

Language:

English | Swahili

Release Date:

1 July 1966 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

13.000.000 dollaria zitoun klironomo See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Caine portrayed a character who had the same first name as his own. See more »

Goofs

The Victorian-age London houses have TV antennae on them. See more »

Quotes

Joseph Finsbury: [carrying on a one-sided conversation with the Bournemouth Strangler] Ahh, the avocational activities of man are many and varied. Some demand skill - yours for instance! Carpentry... the playing of games with balls of various sizes!
See more »

Crazy Credits

"Certain funeral & military airs played by Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Temperance Seven who actually number eight" See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Michael Caine (1966) See more »

Soundtracks

Light of Head
Written by Clifford Bevan
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Timeless English comedy, superbly done.
4 August 2001 | by drdcwSee 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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