54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But the Right Movie
I'll never forget the first time I saw this movie. The quality I was most struck by was it's darkness. I was very young & didn't realise at the time that I was watching one of the best examples in the history of cinema of film noir(nightmare noir even).Darkness, darkness...even the scenes set during the day feel dark. Many of my fellow film lovers have already...
Published on July 10, 2004 by M. DALTON
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three harmless little words have suddenly become the most chilling!
"Sorry Wrong Number" lacked the humor and humanity of Hitchcock's 'Rear Window,' but was more relentlessly frightening, and, like "Rear Window," it exerted its grip because of the helplessness of the principal character, confined to one room...
Barbara Stanwyck played, with terrifying conviction, a wealthy, neurotic, partly paralyzed, bedridden woman, alone at...
Published on January 14, 2007 by Roberto Frangie
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But the Right Movie,
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanwyck is Incomparable in this Masterpiece of Isolation.,
"Sorry, Wrong Number" is based on a popular radio play by Lucille Fletcher, who also wrote a novel based on the play and the screenplay for this film. Leona's confinement to her apartment, where her only means of figuring out what is going on is a telephone, is one of the most effective uses of isolation in cinematic history. Leona isn't a sympathetic character. But her physical and emotional isolation is so palpable that it's unnerving. She can't control what's happening to her. Her insular, dependent lifestyle has left her paranoid. So it's hard to say if anything is happening to her at all. Is paranoia with justification still paranoia? And who were the mysterious men on the phone talking about? Where is her husband? The fact that the audience doesn't know the answers to those questions any more than Leona does makes "Sorry, Wrong Number" a top-notch thriller and a masterpiece of empathy in the service of suspense.
The DVD: The only bonus feature is a theatrical trailer. Subtitles are available in English. Dubbing is available in French.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Murder Mystery Milestone,
Based on a radio drama, the film revolves around Stanwyck overhearing a party line conversation concerning what she soon realizes is a plan to murder her that evening. The bed ridden woman then frantically pieces together all the information she can about the planned event. She becomes overwhelmed when she realizes that Lancaster, who is conveniently away on business, is part of the mix.
A surprise that emerges during all the investigation, which involves convincingly applied flashbacks, is Stanwyck's physical condition. She refers to herself as an invalid and lives the part, but Wendell Corey in the role of a doctor consulted by Lancaster reveals that Stanwyck's problems are psychological rather than physiological as her periodic "attacks" occur whenever her husband challenges the status quo.
The plight into which Stanwyck ultimately descends results from her strong-willed and spoiled manner as a young woman who sees Lancaster and plucks him from the arms of a woman from his own station in life who loves him. Her father, played by Ed Begley, is a Chicago pharmaceutical giant who initially balks over her intention to marry a man from a poor family who has lived his entire life in a small town and is a high school dropout. The unrelenting Stanwyck is used to getting her way and it proves to her ultimate disadvantage with Lancaster.
Some reviewers criticized the film by stating that Lancaster, a he man type, was miscast as someone who is pigeonholed by a rich woman and put in a showcase vice president's job working under her father with few responsibilities other than satisfying her. They missed the point of recognizing that the film's dramatic tension springs from the conflict within Lancaster, who is too strong and independent to function as a "toy boy" for a spoiled rich woman. Eventually he tells her, "I've learned to like this life but on my own terms." Stanwyck is then confronted with a monster of her own creation.
When Lancaster turns against Stanwyck it is with a vengeance as he convinces a chemist to unite with him to make money by siphoning off some of the company's drug supply and selling it to the mob for a huge profit. William Conrad plays the part of the mob boss with stern conviction.
The clock ultimately winds down for Lancaster as well as Stanwyck as they both become enmeshed in complicated mob machinations.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Treasure for Fans of Suspense,
There are a few things about this thriller that sets it apart from the rest. One is that it's believeable. Second, her process of investigation, trying to track her husband while also trying to get someone to do something about the murder plot is simply use of common sense instead of these extremely complicated ways of discovering plot points in the majority of today's films. She's an invalid and faced with that dilemma, they successfully distract us from the time as each call takes us back, giving an understanding of why she'll be murdered at 11:15.
By the time this film reaches its climax, we understand the pain and frustration of each of these characters, who are both the cause of the horrible event about to take place.
The climax would have failed had we not been set up properly. Without an understanding of both points of view, that ending never would have paid off because you wouldn't have believed in their remorse in the end.
By the time they realize the mistakes they've made, it's too late to right them and this little treasure of a film delivers one of best last lines ever in a movie. And who could forget Bowery 2-1000?
With so many films remade today including "The Haunting," "House of Wax" and "House on Haunted Hill," you wonder why somebody hasn't attempted to update this story. Very rarely does Hollywood acheive a successful remake, but if it's good stories they want (and those are usually the ones to make good box office returns) they should take notes from Sorry, Wrong Number. The only film I can think of that even resembles this film is "Cellular" and it doesn't hold a candle to this classic.
So, if you want to curl up on your couch on a cold, October night with a bowl full of popcorn, I recommend this little jem for a night of genuine suspense.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three harmless little words have suddenly become the most chilling!,
Barbara Stanwyck played, with terrifying conviction, a wealthy, neurotic, partly paralyzed, bedridden woman, alone at night in her New York home with only the telephone for company because her husband, Burt Lancaster, has given the staff he night off...
Calling to see why her husband is not back from his office... Stanwyck gets a crossed line and hears two men discussing a murder which one of them has been paid to do that night: paid by a husband who wants to get rid of his rich, neurotic and bedridden wife whose servants have been given the night off..
At first, Stanwyck does not realize that she is to be the victim. Then, as the killing hour approaches, she does realize... In mounting panic she starts calling the police, her doctor, anywhere for help...
As the vulnerable woman menaced, Stanwyck won her a fourth Oscar nomination... Her bedside telephone has a star role to play...
Lancaster was sufficiently persuasive as the husband, who only can save his own life by getting money for his gambling debts...
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "HENRY, THERE'S SOMEBODY COMING UP THE STAIRS!!!",
William Conrad has a nice role here, too, playing a rather unsavory acquaintance of Lancaster's. And let's not forget Ed Begley, who is just fine as Miss Stanwyck's father.
"Sorry" unfolds in a series of flashback scenes (in fact, there's even one scene that features a "flashback within a flashback"). It never gets overly confusing however, with everything coming together nicely in the final act.
While Barbara Stanwyck is very good as the distressed main character ("Leona Cotterell-Stevenson"), I can't help but wonder what this film would have been like if Agnes Moorehead had starred in the part instead. Moorehead is famous for playing the role numerous times on radio.
This DVD-Video from Paramount Home Entertainment provides viewers with a darn-good video transfer of "Sorry, Wrong Number". The dark, shadow-filled "noir"-like qualities that emanate from this film translate nicely to the TV screen via this disc. The picture isn't 100% pristine here, with some grain noise dancing around in some scenes -- but I think it looks very good overall. The video aspect ratio is the intended Full Frame (1.33:1); with the original Mono audio pleasantly replicated here (in Dolby Digital 2-Channel form).
The DVD sports a French Mono audio track, too. Plus English subtitles. The Theatrical Trailer is also included. The trailer is the only "bonus" on the disc, but it's a honey. With a run time of 2:44, the trailer is the good old-fashioned type, which has dramatic phrases flashed in large, imposing letters on the screen to draw viewers into the theater. Enticing them to see (per this film's trailer) "The Most Electrifying Experience The Screen Has Ever Offered!" -- Think that might be a wee bit of an overstatement here? Well, in any event, that's up to each movie-watcher to decide I suppose. What is "electrifying" to one person might be nothing more than a wet sparkler to another. ;)
A two-sided, one-page insert comes in the Keep Case for "Sorry", with a Chapter List on one side (11 chapter breaks).
Some of my favorite dialogue from "Sorry, Wrong Number":
>> Miss Stanwyck, after being asked over the telephone by the rather shady "Waldo Evans" to repeat back a multiplicity of instructions intended for her husband --- "REPEAT IT BACK TO YOU!! ARE YOU INSANE?!" (The one hysterically-funny moment in the picture.)
>> "Well, who is this? What number am I calling?!" .... "Bowery 2, one-thousand, ma'am -- the city morgue."
If you're looking for a really good mystery/suspense story, "Sorry, Wrong Number" is a can't-miss choice. Just watch out for that guy on your stairs!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage noir with great acting coupled with a gripping and mysterious plot.,
'Sorry, Wrong Number' opens in a New York apartment with Leona Stevenson (Barbara Stanwyck), an immobile, bedridden wife trying to contact her husband Henry Stevenson (Burt Lancaster) by phone at his office but is accidentally connected to another line where she overhears two men plotting to kill someone later that night. She hears the specific details of how the murder will be done, but does not know who will be victim. It appears the call can't be traced and the details are too nebulous for the police to take action. So again, Leona tries to contact Henry and since he can't be found, she does some detective work by phone and learns an amazing amount about her husband over the phone for the remainder of the day.
Some very detailed flashbacks reveal the troubled relationship Leona and Henry. First, Leona is the heiress of a huge pharmaceutical business and she met Harry while in college although Henry didn't even finish high school and was working in a drug store. In spite of this odd relationship, they eventually get married but Leona immediately takes complete control of the relationship and Henry obviously feels trapped, emasculated and in deep need of proving his self worth even though he's been given an unchallenging job as a vice president for Leona's father's drug company. This sets up the rest of the movie where Leona learns a lot about Henry through various phone conversations and none of what she finds out is good and it builds up to a climatic ending.
The picture is unmistakably film noir and has plenty of convincing actors, especially Stanwyck, and has a very mysterious plot to hold the viewer's interest. I only have two critical comments about this film. One problem is there are several extreme coincidences that are put in place to make the movie work. The most obvious event that borders on the totally improbable is hearing this extremely relevant phone call by accident in a city as large as New York and to a slightly lesser degree receiving several extremely informative tips from various willing phone callers over the course of several hours. But the bigger problem is the ending where someone realizes that a serious crime is about to occur and this person calls several parties for help but none of these people are the police. It's an entertaining film and because of the acting and the noir look of the movie, I liked it, but I didn't love it.
The B&W DVD picture quality has virtually no signs of film deterioration, but was noticeably grainy. Some scenes, especially the ones shot on a beach, were very grainy and had poor contrast. The audio was good, but parts of the mysterious phone call were hard to hear. The only bonus is a trailer.
DVD Quality: B+
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SORRY, WRONG NUMBER (1948),
This film originally appeared in 1943 on the "Suspense" radio program and starred Agnes Moorehead in the role of Mrs. Stevenson. In expanding the 30-minute radio play to an 89 minute film, Lucille Fletcher employed a flashback device which, IMO, oiled a riveting suspenseful tale, effectively carrying the action along. Each flashback episode was ignited by a phone call and allowed the camera (thankfully) to stray outside Leona's bedroom.
It was during the flashback episodes that the wonderful cinematography of Sol Polito is used to best advantage. And it is stunning, espcially in the train station sequence wherein Sally (Ann Richards) is tailing her husband to find out what she can about her ex-boyfriend's involvement in a crime.
Barbara Stanwyck once again proves her stature as one of the greats (she received an Oscar nomination for this role). It must have been a real challenge trying to get the audience to sympathize with a rather unlikeable character. I believe she succeded in this challenge. Leona is spoiled and headstrong. She has convinced herself of having a life-threatening illness and, while she professes her love for Henry (Burt Lancaster), it's really just a sort of Narcisistic possesiveness. She won't hesitate to use her imagined illness to tightly control her husband, making his life a misery.
So, a fine cast, with a superb perfomance by Stanwyck, capable, if not excellent, direction by Anatole Litvak and a fine screenplay by Lucille Fletcher add up to a very good suspense thriller. It's the kind of film that, if condensed to its original 30-minute length, would have been a perfect vehicle for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". I say that mainly due to its shocking (though inevitable) conclusion. I am sooooo glad that they didn't weaken at the knees and provide some sort of phony ending wherein Henry saves his wife at the last minute and everything is hunkey-dorey.
Henry set the wheels in motion to commit murder, and though it's understandable that he might be made miserable by his controlling, overwhelming wife, a stronger man would have found a more suitable way to solve his problems. Our D-I-V-O-R-C-E, etc. and all that Tammy Wynette jazz. His attempt at warning her did little in my eyes to mitigate his role in the whole sordid business.
OK, is it noir? My vote would be yes. Stanwyck, from her sick bed, is the overwhelming femme-fatale. Lancaster the scheming, weak-willed husband. Henry is reacting to pressures from all sides: mobsters wanting to get back their piece of a very lucrative business, a wife, though perhaps not consciously, driving her husband away with her insane jealousy, an ex-girlfriend who's obviously still enough in love with Henry and not quite faithful enough to husband and family to stay out of it. And murder waiting in the wings. The death of Leona is horrifying and inevitable. Any other ending would have not been quite as logical.
This story rather reminds me of the writings of Roald Dahl (Lamb to the Slaughter) and would have fit in very nicely with one of Hitchcock's marvelous collections of short stories such as "Stories For Late At Night".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic suspense thriller,
This review is from: Sorry Wrong Number [VHS] (VHS Tape)Though not quite as gripping as the original radio play, this is nonetheless a fine exercise in suspense. Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster lead a fine cast through the classic story of the sinister plot overheard on the phone. Indeed, the telephone is a major player in the cast and plotline. There are some better film-noir thrillers out there, but this one is still a "must." Highly recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radio Suspense Makes Movie Thrills,
Hal Wallis would produce more than one excellent noir melodrama with Barbara Stanwyck in the lead, and Sorry, Wrong Number was one of their finest collaborations. Stanwyck gives a very brave performance for a star of her caliber, allowing the audience to see a selfish and controlling woman hard to like through most of this film. It created sympathy for Burt Lancaster as her husband, Henry, who may have been bullied too far, and be in on the plot to kill her. In those nail-biting final moments, however, when Stanwyck is stripped and vulnerable, we see that it was insecurity that fueled her behavior, changing our opinion and creating panic in our hearts, as someone makes their way up the stairs.
A telephone is the link between life and death when Leona tries to call her husband from bed and somehow overhears the detailed conversation of two men plotting a woman's murder at 11:15 that night. Not thinking for a moment it was her own murder they were plotting, she tries desperately to have the operator connect her to someone who can help. Through phone calls, flashbacks and inventiveness on Livak's part, everything prior unfolds until the viewer is hanging on the next scene, wondering if it's headed where they think it is, and engrossed in how it got to that point. Leona stole Henry away from his Grassville sweetheart, Sally Hunt. Ann Richards is wonderful in creating sympathy for the girl Henry probably belonged with but was weak enough to lose. She still cares for him, and when her attorney husband seems to be focused on something big involving him, she has to find out if he's in any danger.
It is moody and atmospheric as she tails men to the beach and a house where mysterious signals precede the arrival by sea she knows can be no good for Henry. As she goes from phone to phone booth to give the desperate Leona a warning as the clock ticks, a story of Leona's suffocating love driving a weak man to take his chance at something his own is revealed. When Henry gets too greedy, however, it could be a vulnerable Leona who has to pay the price. William Conrad, whose own career had ties to radio, portraying Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke for years, is first-rate as the smarter crook, Morano. At 11:15 Henry has a change of heart and Leona realizes the phone call was about her own murder. But the footsteps on the stairs may be impossible to stop now. The viewer will find themselves leaning forward, willing her to get to the open window and scream for help. Stanwyck is magnificent here, just as on radio. Interestingly, Stanwyck would appear in an episode of Jack Benny's radio show in which he and the gang went to see this film, and afterward had a dream about it. Stanwyck had some great lines, and the spoof proved to be one of the most hilarious Benny ever did.
Beautifully photographed by Sol Polito, and framed by a suspenseful Franz Waxman score, director Antole Litvak gives this lonely and atmospheric thriller the wider scope required for the film medium through the use of flashbacks and shots of the harbor and bridge outside Leona's bedroom window. It is done so well the viewer never gets the sense this was once a radio play confined entirely to an invalid's bedroom. Having Tangerine playing on the car radio as Leona seduces Henry away from Sally is also a nice atmospheric touch, as it was playing softly down the street in a famous scene from Stanwyck's Double Indemnity as well. Harold Vermilyea is excellent as Henry's amiable accomplice who realizes before he does they are in over their heads. Wedell Corey, who would star with Stanwyck in another great Hal Wallis production, The File on Thelma Jordan, offers some good scenes as the doctor who clues Lancaster in on Leona's real condition.
This is film full of suspense and atmospheric touches, with a tremendous performance from Barbara Stanwyck no one who has seen this film ever forgets. A must see for classic film fans.
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Sorry Wrong Number by Anatole Litvak (DVD - 2002)