Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) movie poster

director Anatole Litvak
viewed: 01/05/2016

Lucille Fletcher’s Sorry, Wrong Number may have been, as Orson Welles called it “the greatest single radio script ever written,” it would be interesting to hear it.  Adapted by Fletcher for film and shot by director Anatole Litvak, it’s an interesting but somewhat convoluted affair, a story told in a series of flashbacks, through different characters’ memories, while a selfish, wealthy hypochondriac (played by the always entertaining Barbara Stanwyck) lingers on her satin sheets, connected to the world only by way of her telephone.

At times, nearly Hitchcockian, the cinematography and designs are vivid and intriguing.  Stanwyck’s apartment looks out over a shadowy New York and her father’s office, with its stately high ceilings is loaded up with taxidermied creatures.  The scene at the beach house is also very interesting.

It is also quite the complicated plot that unfolds, with heiress Stanwyck having stolen her working class husband (Burt Lancaster) from an old school friend (Ann Richards), an emasculated Lancaster looking for something meaningful in his gilded cage, to theft of chemicals and falling in with criminals.  What leads up to the film’s final line, a terse voice stating the film’s title over a phone, I found myself a little more confused than enthralled.

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