Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) 720p

Movie Poster
Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) bluray - Movie Poster
Drama | Film-Noir
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
89 min
IMDB Rating:
7.4 / 10 
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Directors: Anatole Litvak [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Leona Stevenson is sick and confined to her bed. One night, whilst waiting for her husband to return home, she picks up the phone and accidentally overhears a conversation between two men planning a murder. She becomes increasingly desperate as she tries to work out who the victim is so the crime can be prevented.


  • Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) bluray - Movie Scene 1
  • Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) bluray - Movie Scene 2
  • Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) bluray - Movie Scene 1

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classic noir

Bedridden New York cough-drop heiress Leona Stevenson (Barbara Stanwyck) calls her husband Henry (Burt Lancaster)'s office. The lines get crossed. She listens to a mystery man confirming with George on a plan to murder a woman that night at 11:15. In flashbacks, Leona stole Henry from sweet Sally Hunt. They get married despite her successful drugstore chain owner father's objection. Sally Hunt is now married to a lawyer from the D.A. office. She tells Leona about her husband's mysterious investigation and possible connection to Henry.

This is classic noir. Barbara Stanwyck is terrific in her posh room. I would be perfectly happy with less flashbacks and more of her in that room. The shadows and darkness outside give a claustrophobic sense of the situation. I'm not sure why Sally Hunt is trying to help Leona who was so cruel to her. Again, I would like less explanations except for that great Staten Island location. This has a lot of similarities with my favorite psychological thriller of all times Rear Window. Great noir!

Complex noir plot builds and builds...and builds, until...!!!!

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

You can tell this thriller was once a radio play--it is mostly talk, and often over the telephone. But what drama can be built on a string of conversations around the office, in cars in the rain, out on a lonely beach on Staten Island, and on the telephone, often filled with mystery and doom.\

Not that it's not a visual movie, either. There is a big gloomy house, and lots of dark city streets. Shadows and moving camera and close-ups of faces and telephones, all keep you glued and increasingly worried. By the end, the really jarring, memorable end, you are ready for what you can never be ready for.

Beware, the plot is confusing. Even seeing it twice I had to pay attention to who was who, and what turn of events had just taken place. Part of the reason is there is a bewildering use of flashbacks, even flashbacks within flashbacks, told by all kinds of different characters. The plot is laid out methodically, but take notes as you go, or at least take note. The initial overheard phone call is key to it all, and it gets reinforced later somewhat, but pay heed there.

And the person on the phone? A sharp, bitter, convincing Barbara Stanwyck, who really knows how to be steely and vulnerable at the same time. Burt Lancaster is more solid and stolid, and maybe less persuasive overall, but he carries a more practical part of the story. It keeps coming back to Stanwyck in bed, and the telephone which is her contact with the facts, as they swirl and finally descend.

Director Anatole Litvak has some less known but thrilling dark dramas to look for, including Snake Pit. But this is his most sensational winner, partly for Stanwyck, and partly for the last five minutes, which is as good as drama gets.

A Kept Man Tries To Claw Out

For her fourth and final Oscar nomination for Best Actress, Barbara Stanwyck starred in an expanded version of the Lucille Fletcher radio play Sorry Wrong Number. The original drama was only thirty minutes and it only concentrates on a crippled woman and her terror. We certainly get that in this film and it's when we do that Stanwyck went into Oscar contention.

Besides the moments of present terror, the story is fleshed in a series of flashbacks, sometimes flashbacks within flashbacks, although not approaching Passage to Marseilles which set some kind of record in that department. The people that Fletcher creates aren't the most sympathetic group of people you'd ever want to meet. Stanwyck is the spoiled only child of pharmaceutical millionaire Ed Begley and we her put on a full court campaign to sweep poor kid Burt Lancaster off his feet and away from Ann Richards. We see Lancaster trapped in a velvet cocoon of luxury, but not really being his own man. He's as kept as William Holden was in Sunset Boulevard.

As the story unfolds it actually becomes Lancaster's struggle to claw out of captivity. Stanwyck does not become the most sympathetic figure either as she wields her illness as a weapon as surely as Eleanor Parker did in The Man With The Golden Arm. Imagine Bill Holden's character in Sunset Boulevard married to Parker's from the Otto Preminger classic and you've got a really sick marriage.

The flashback story is a bit much to take, but when it comes to Stanwyck's present terror the film goes into high gear. Think of the extraordinary range of roles that Barbara Stanwyck was nominated for an Oscar. The white trash mother in Stella Dallas, the mob moll in Ball Of Fire, the evil wife in Double Indemnity and finally this psychosomatic clinging cripple in Sorry Wrong Number. All completely different from the others, yet all stamped with Stanwyck's indelible screen persona.

According to the Axel Madsen biography of Stanwyck she was not entertaining hopes of winning in 1948 in what proved to be her last shot at a competitive Oscar. She picked out exactly who was going to win that year and her other competition was Ingrid Bergman in Joan Of Arc, Olivia DeHavilland in The Snake Pit, and Irene Dunne in I Remember Mama. The winner in who Stanwyck said was the Best Performance for an Actress in 1948 was Jane Wyman for Johnny Belinda.

When Sorry Wrong Number concentrates on Barbara it's one of the best fright tales around. Would that the rest of the film was as good as her performance.
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