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Sorry, Wrong Number

4.6 out of 5 stars 252 customer reviews

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(May 28, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster star in Sorry, Wrong Number, an odd telephonic thriller that starts off with a bang. Stanwyck, playing a shrill invalid, is at home alone and phoning around to find her husband. Thanks to a crossed wire, she overhears a murder plot, but she can barely get anyone to pay attention to her, let alone believe her. The rest of the film is played out in telephone conversations and flashbacks as our increasingly frightened heroine tries to find her husband and unravel the murder. Stanwyck, as always, gives a terrific performance, managing to make her character both unlikeable and compelling at the same time. Lancaster, as her kept husband, is handsome, virile, and trapped all at once. The plot, expanded to a film from a tight, dark little radio play, wanders at times but gathers itself back together for a corker of an ending. --Ali Davis

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards, Wendell Corey, Harold Vermilyea
  • Directors: Anatole Litvak
  • Writers: Lucille Fletcher
  • Producers: Anatole Litvak, Hal B. Wallis
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Black & White, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: May 28, 2002
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (252 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063URD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,478 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sorry, Wrong Number" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. DALTON on July 10, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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 provided a synopsis so I won't bother you with yet another. Suffice to say this a superbly acted thriller with beautiful elements of melodrama & a knockout climax. I've seen Barbra Stanwyck & Burt Lancaster in SO many films, but this is the one I keep coming back to. Feel the darkness, enjoy the rain, live the nightmare...
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Format: DVD
In "Sorry, Wrong Number", Barbara Stanwyck turns in one of the many memorable performances that made her the Queen of Noir. Leona (Barbara Stanwyck) is the spoiled daughter of a pharmaceutical magnate, now a demanding invalid wife to Henry Stevenson (Burt Lancaster), who must live every moment to please her. One evening she overhears a telephone conversation between two men plotting a murder. Unnerved by the call, alone in her vast apartment, and increasingly worried when her husband doesn't come home from work, Leona uses the only means she has to communicate with the outside world: the telephone. She calls everyone she can think of to find her husband, but what she learns only makes her more anxious as to his fate and her own.

"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.
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Format: DVD
Despite the fact the film came out in 1948, it still holds up and even exceeds many of today's so-called thrillers in terms of storytelling and 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.
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Format: DVD
Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster were two of the most dynamic stars in Hollywood history and together they generated fireworks in "Sorry, Wrong Number." Anatole Litvak directed this mystery classic along with "Snake Pit" and both were released in 1948. Both "Sorry, Wrong Number" and "Snake Pit" deal with psychiatric problems, a major winner during the period following Alfred Hitchcock's success in "Spellbound" three years earlier.

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.
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