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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Stanwyck - Queen of the Screen, 20 Feb 2011
This review is from: SORRY WRONG NUMBER ~ region 2 compatable import DVD ~..Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster... (DVD)
This is Stanwyck at her magnetic and photogenic best.
The plot, briefly...
Leona Stevenson (Stanwyck) is the wilful, spoilt daughter of her business tycoon father (Ed Begley). She meets down-on-his-luck Henry (Burt Lancaster, in only his sixth feature film) and falls in love with him. He sees her as a meal-ticket to a brighter future and they get married. Unfortunately, things don't work out. Henry is given a prestigious job by Leona's father, as a vice-president of his pharmaceuticals company. But the post is empty and meaningless, created to keep him where Leona and her father want him. He comes to feel like a plaything in their hands, with no command over his own fate. She responds to his unhappy restlessness by developing psychosomatic medical conditions which she uses to emotionally blackmail Henry into compliance with her wishes. In desperation to assert his own independence and give his life meaning, Henry sets up an illegal drugs operation, using materials from the company. Eventually she discovers that Henry is plotting to have her murdered, so he can get his hands on her life insurance money and pay off the mob which has gained control over his operation. At the last minute Henry tries to call off the hit...

You can see this film develop as you watch it. To start with the dialogue is clunky and at times illogical, and the characterisation cliched and almost risible. But as time passes it settles down. The dialogue becomes fluent and engrossing and the characterisation subtle and multi-layered. We see why Leona is how she is, neurotic and demanding; it is the only way she can gain any independence and self-control from her domineering father. Henry, too, is portrayed as a man who does the best he can with what is to hand. Far from being shown as a classic black-hat villain, we see him do what any decent man would do - try to make the marriage work, attempt to infuse his role in the company with some meaning, search for another job when that doesn't work. We see his hope drain away as he tries to keep some control over his life - an impossible task given Leona's manipulative behaviour and her father's grip on the purse-strings. He is not a villain - he is You and Me.

There are clever and intricate sub-plots which you need to watch the film to understand, but above all there are the performances of Lancaster and Stanwyck. You can see why Lancaster became a major star - his acting is subtle and convincing, engaging the sympathy and understanding of the audience in a way that few actors could pull off with such a difficult, multi-tasking role. As with Marlon Brando, it is in such earlier roles that you see why he went on to become a cinema great.
But Stanwyck walks away with the laurels, as she usually did with any film she appeared in. She makes us understand the difficult and aggravating Leona, as Lancaster did with the manipulated and desperate Henry. And her fear, mounting to ungovernable hysteria as she realises her time has come, is almost unendurable. At the end, as the shadow of her nemesis creeps along the wall towards her you think My God, she's not acting, she is in real fear for her life. You will rarely if ever see such a convincing portrayal of mortal, abject terror as Stanwyck gives here.

This is Noir at its best. Don't miss it.

P.S. My DVD was a Korean import. I've had a few of these and they've all been absolutely fine, so if that's a worry for you, forget it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I've just had a terrible shock!", 1 Aug 2005
With its serpentine storyline and its dark machinations, there's no doubt that Sorry, Wrong Number is a noir classic of the highest caliber. It's certainly exciting, and with characters weaving in and out of the story at a moments notice, the film takes you on a sinister and menacing journey. Of course, the movie also stars the wonderful Barbara Stanwyck. This is the role she would become famous for and the one in which she would receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Using not just one flashback, but multiple flashbacks to enlarge the story, Sorry Wrong Number tells the story of Leona Stevenson (Stanwyck) who has recently been confined to her bed in her summer home of New York. The home is more like a mansion than a quaint home, with huge, empty rooms and a vast swirling grand staircase that seems to stretch on forever; Leona is ensconced in the top floor with the telephone being her only means of communication with the outside world.
Leona has been trying to get hold of her husband Henry (Bert Lancaster). She's panicky that he has left her alone and has been repeatedly calling his office to find out why he hasn't come home, but the line is always busy. Leona is insecure and highly strung type, and she hates being left unaided in this big, deserted house. Lately, she's suffering from heart problems, causing her to constantly wipe her brow and nervously suck on cigarettes.
Her mood becomes worse when she accidentally overhears a telephone conversation about a murder of a woman that is to take place that night at 11:15 p.m. She asks the telephone operator to help and tries to convey to her the dreaded conversation she has just overheard, but the operator tells her to call the police because the call can't be traced. The police, however, aren't interested telling her that information that she gave them is too vague.
Perhaps though, it is Leona herself that is the target of the murder? Her father (Ed Begley) calls her regularly from their permanent home in Chicago, where he owns a big drug company and where she lives permanently in the same mansion with her husband. He tells her that Henry should be home and that he has no company business, and that he'll speak to him tomorrow about just that.
Leona soon receives a telephone message wired by her husband that he is away on business for the weekend and won't be able to see her until Sunday morning. This makes her even more worried and anxious. Soon she receives several phone calls from different people, each with a diverse story to tell about her missing husband.
There's Sally (Ann Richards) an old flame of Henry's who had met Henry that day for a luncheon date. There's also her doctor (Wendell Corey), who told her husband a few weeks ago that she was as sound as a bell, and that her problems are mental: she's actually a cardiac neurotic and doesn't need medical help after all. And then there's Mr. Evans (Harold Vermilyea), an enigmatic chemist, who works for her father's company and tells Leona of her husband's plans to cheat the company by stealing one of their drug products.
Leona is forced to put the different stories together, like the pieces of a puzzle. However, as the mystery of her husband's disappearance is revealed, the poor woman becomes increasingly more fraught, with her precious and insular world threatening to break down right in front of her. The phone becomes her lifeline, her only link with sanity and safely and as the clock gradually approaches 11.15 pm, Leona realizes that it is perhaps her own life that is in serious danger.
This is a role that Stanwyck was born to play, and she manages to capture, with perfect resonance, Leona's mixture of vulnerability, hysteria, and perpetual self-indulgence. Leona has been doted on all her life by her wealthy father, and she's used to getting what she wants. She goes out of her way to trap Henry into a loveless marriage, and now he's become a kind browbeaten husband. She goes to pieces faking tantrums and heart attacks when he tries to assert some kind of financial freedom independent of her father.
Sorry Wrong Number is all about the trepidation of being left on one's own without the means to defend oneself. Even though Leona's handicap is probably just mental, she is just so paralyzed with fear and anxiety that the once familiar now holds danger and menace at every turn. She's so paralyzed that she can't even get up from the bed to defend herself. Director, Anton Litvak, manages to effectively capture the sinister claustrophobia of the story and he shoots Leona's bedroom as if it were a luxury prison where she's been confined for what seems like forever.
Sorry, Wrong Number ultimately stands as a testament to Stanwyck's finely tuned and hysterical performance as Leona. She's an arrogant, self-obsessed and conceited woman, but somehow in the madness and panic of the moment, and in the midst of terrifying horror, Stanwyck makes us actually feel sorry for her character. Mike Leonard August 05.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb thriller - a powerful performance by Barbara Stanwyck, 19 July 2008
By 
Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Sorry, Wrong Number was originally a half-hour radio script written by Lucille Fletcher. It was a huge hit. Agnes Moorehead performed the drama to radio-listening audiences. The story had such a strong following, Fletcher fleshed out the tale and turned it into a best-selling novel and later the script for the classic film noir

The movie features in its lead role one biggest Hollywood stars of all times: Barbara Stanwyck. Her presence on screen made her the ultimate black widow in noir.

The story is faily easy: a bed-ridden rich woman learns through listeing to a phone conversation that a woman is to be killed this evening and she realizises soon it will be her. The entrapment builds up a huge suspense and one feels fear creeping into the room and the body of the intended victim as she in her terrorized state pieces together the mystery why she has to die. The film is shot very dark, with looming shadows and circling camera shots used to maintain a high level of suspense. Stanwyck changes during the movie from a spoiled, wealthy hypochondriac, whi is used to bend all to her will and setting by that the reason for her murder into a terrified and helpless victim. Stanwyck's performance in Sorry, Wrong Number is so powerful the audience sympathy - unlike the radio drama - actually shifts to her not-so-bright would-be-killer husband played by Burt Lancaster. Barbara Stanwyck got one of her four nominations for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role.

A movie to be enjoyed - great acting and great photography have created a thriller of first order without modern constant blood-shetting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanwyck Terrorises Herself In True Style, 1 Oct 2008
This is one of the best performances of Barbara Stanwyck as the lonely ,crippled ,haughty,rich wife stuck in a plush apartment in New York ,as she tries to solve the riddle of some mysterious and anonymous phone calls that predict that she is in danger of being murdered before midnight ,initially she is amused but gradually it becomes truly menacing as she starts getting more details and the jigsaw puzzle starts to fall into place, piece by piece in an extremely sophisticated script .

Gradually a picture begins to evolve which is memorable horror as well as a dazzling and ingenious mystery thriller ,not to say a great drama as you get involved into this intelligent experience , where her husband affectively played by a young Burt lancaster, is playing psychological games with her and himself as he seems to feel let down by both his wife and her rich family who despise the realtively poor husband she chose in alliance ,contrary to their wishes .

The movie has to be seen to be believed as it is deadly and stylishy fastidious and you will never guess the finale even if you have seen every Hitchcock mystery,a genre which it has successfully managed to define in the master's own unique style .

Stanwyck is superb with a tremendously detailed script at her disposal,where every trivia is taken heed of and she has done full justice to a unique character driven plot, which is a great social drama too as it explores the reasons behind the present day events by divulging into the past where the two periods almost fuse in a deft manner .

Though the real star here is the telephone which becomes an instrument of true terror and torture as the director weaves his magical web and all the lurking shadows in the desolate Manhattan apartment ,and every squealing ring tone almost makes you jump as the callers ring the bed -ridden stanwyck ,and then even more calls are made to explore the mystery in a true 'Telephone drama'where the audio-visual medium is fully utilised in a 'claustrophobic' environment made memorable by a great actress .

This is essential cinema from the frustrated helplessness of Stanwyck and the desperately reticent husband ,Burt Lancaster,who is trapped in a Catch -22 just as much as his spouse because of their mutual marital misunderstandings.

The movie though is also an exploration of human behaviour and a profound psychological study of both class differences in society and the evils of materialistic greed which motivates the human mind in an unequal domain called civilisation and manages to turn love into hatred and breeds crime by promoting injustice.

The movie succeeds in the arduous task of delivering all it's multi-layered messages as well as being a terrific piece of cinema and all thanks to the deft direction as in lesser hands it could have been reduced to an inadvertent farce itself .
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy thriller, 8 Jan 2011
By 
This review is from: SORRY WRONG NUMBER ~ region 2 compatable import DVD ~..Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster... (DVD)
Bought this dvd because i was given a still from it a couple of years ago and was curious to see what it would be like to watch it. It is excellent. Very creepy and the tension is drawn out well with a couple of nice twists along the way. The direction is very good with some nice lingering shots of Babs in her bedroom panning down to the shadows downstairs and who or what may be lurking there and the ending is a genuine shocker, gut-wrenching and tragic. Babs was oscar-nominated for her role and she delivers.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sorry Wrong Number, 28 April 2010
By 
This review is from: SORRY WRONG NUMBER ~ region 2 compatable import DVD ~..Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster... (DVD)
Could not find this in the high street and some websites were vastly overpriced. Was dubious about it being Korean import but totally unfounded.Stanwyck plays the role enthusiastically, the suspense builds and your face scrunchs up as you just know what is going to happen but can't do anything.One of the classic film noirs of that era.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanwyck at her best!, 25 Jun 2012
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This review is from: SORRY WRONG NUMBER ~ region 2 compatable import DVD ~..Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster... (DVD)
I had seen this film years ago and then (lucky for me) it popped up on Amazons recommendations. I ordered it, settled down one rainy afternoon and it was great! The film keeps you gripped the whole time and Barbara Stanwyck does a tremendous job. I thoroughly recommend this film - as long as you like black and white thrillers!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Babs.... Whats not to like?, 27 Feb 2013
By 
C. MCCARTHY "bruises on my illusions" (Belfast. N,Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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Missy does bedridden and terrified. And she does it quite well. Campy, very old fashioned but still a classic in my book. If you are a Stanwyck fan get it. :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film Review Only., 2 May 2012
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
You can't live on dreams forever. Waiting only weakens you and your dream.

Sorry, Wrong Number is directed by Anatole Litvak and adapted to screenplay by Lucille Fletcher from her own radio play. It stars Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards and Wendell Corey. Music is scored by Franz Waxman and cinematography by Sol Polito.

In the tangled networks of a great city, the telephone is the unseen link between a million lives... it is the servant of our common needs ~~ the confidante of our inmost secrets... life and happiness wait upon its ring... and horror... and loneliness... and... death!

Excellent, near pure film noir that's shot in real time, contains flashbacks, looming shadows, fluid camera work and hapless protagonists on a one-way trip to bleakville. Tightly wound and paced to precision, Sorry, Wrong Number flourishes as a noir suspenser by projecting the story from one enclosed bedroom, we are primarily in the company of bedridden invalid Leona Stevenson (Stanwyck). Once she overhears a murder plot on a crossed telephone line, the walls begin to close in and the flashbacks reveal herself and her hapless husband, Henry (Lancaster), to be very flawed and unlikable characters. Plot unfolds with help from third and fourth party characters, all impacting greatly on the outcome by being either sketchy in motives, menacing or genuinely trying to help. And that denouement, when it comes, is classic film noir, with no cop outs and carrying with it that bleak inevitability that crowned the best film noirs of the classic cycle. Top dollar acting from Stanwyck and Lancaster to boot! 8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film Review Only., 2 May 2012
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: SORRY WRONG NUMBER ~ region 2 compatable import DVD ~..Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster... (DVD)
You can't live on dreams forever. Waiting only weakens you and your dream.

Sorry, Wrong Number is directed by Anatole Litvak and adapted to screenplay by Lucille Fletcher from her own radio play. It stars Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards and Wendell Corey. Music is scored by Franz Waxman and cinematography by Sol Polito.

In the tangled networks of a great city, the telephone is the unseen link between a million lives... it is the servant of our common needs ~~ the confidante of our inmost secrets... life and happiness wait upon its ring... and horror... and loneliness... and... death!

Excellent, near pure film noir that's shot in real time, contains flashbacks, looming shadows, fluid camera work and hapless protagonists on a one-way trip to bleakville. Tightly wound and paced to precision, Sorry, Wrong Number flourishes as a noir suspenser by projecting the story from one enclosed bedroom, we are primarily in the company of bedridden invalid Leona Stevenson (Stanwyck). Once she overhears a murder plot on a crossed telephone line, the walls begin to close in and the flashbacks reveal herself and her hapless husband, Henry (Lancaster), to be very flawed and unlikable characters. Plot unfolds with help from third and fourth party characters, all impacting greatly on the outcome by being either sketchy in motives, menacing or genuinely trying to help. And that denouement, when it comes, is classic film noir, with no cop outs and carrying with it that bleak inevitability that crowned the best film noirs of the classic cycle. Top dollar acting from Stanwyck and Lancaster to boot! 8/10
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