Comedy set in Victorian times about a group bet on who'll be the last to die. A veritable who's-who of the sixties British comedy scene, 'The Wrong Box' concerns two brothers (John Mills and Ralph Richardson) who are the last surviving members of a tontine, an investment scheme set up many years before in which the last surviving member stands to receive a fortune. The pair's relatives, however, eschew waiting for fate and instead opt to hurry along the course of nature by a series of hilarious and unlikely attempts on the older men's lives. Michael Caine plays Mills' grandson Michael, a mindless medical student, and the ever-witty Peter Cook and Dudley Moore play Morris and John - Richardson's two schemingly avaricious nephews. Also features guest appearances by the Brit comedy icons Tony Hancock and Peter Sellers.
Years before the story proper in The Wrong Box
gets under way, a 'tontine' is drawn up on behalf several young British boys. Each of the boys' parents had placed £1,000 in a pool, to be invested and expanded upon. The resultant fortune will go to the last surviving member of the tontine. A series of montages depicts the various demises of the heirs (in one instance, one of them is inadvertently beheaded while being knighted by Queen Victoria). Finally, only two of the tontine participants are left: aged brothers Ralph Richardson and John Mills. On his last legs, Mills is determined that Richardson will not outlive him, and to that end attempts to kill his brother; each attempt fails spectacularly, with the doddering Richardson none the wiser. Standing to benefit from the tontine are Mills' dim-witted med-student son Michael Caine and Richardson's greedy nephews Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. When Richardson is supposedly killed in a train wreck, Cook and Moore don't want the authorities to find out, so they appropriate what they think is their uncle's corpse and ship it home in a box. Thus it is that Caine finds the body of a perfect stranger on his doorstep. The farcical complications begin flying about thick and fast from this point onward. Among the participants in this wacky gigglefest are such formidable talents as Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Wilfred Lawson, Thorley Walters, Norman Rossington, Irene Handl, and Cicely Courtenedge. Based on a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Wrong Box
is a delightful hark back to the glory days of Britain's Ealing comedies.