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SORRY, WRONG NUMBER starring BARBARA STANWYCK, BURT LANCASTER, WENDELL COREY, ED BEGLEY, LEIF ERICKSON, WILLIAM CONRAD and HAROLD VERMILYEA

This gripping, classic noir film is based on the famous 22-minute radio play, which Agnes Moorehead did to great acclaim in 1943. Moorehead was not a star and so when the play was made into a Hollywood picture, Barbara Stanwyck, then at the prime of her career, was cast in the lead. And she ran with it.
In a tour-de-force, Oscar-nominated performance, Stanwyck plays Leona Stevenson, a whining, paranoid, hypochondriac New York heiress, who has developed a psychosomatic illness that has made her a bed-ridden invalid. Leona lives in an upscale apartment with her milquetoast, trophy husband Henry (Burt Lancaster), but her only contact with the outside world is through the telephone.
One evening, while trying to reach Henry at the office, she overhears two men making plans. . .for a murder. (For younger folks, there used to be a thing called a “party line” which could be optioned on a standard wired telephone. You would save money on your phone bill by sharing the line with other subscribers.) She tries to contact Henry, then the police, then the phone company, to warn them of the impending crime, not realizing she is the intended victim. The clock is ticking fast; time is running out and the murder hour is approaching.
Yes, it’s a bit of a gimmick, but SORRY, WRONG NUMBER is a

Deadly.

Serious.

Film.

Anatole Livak, who also produced, directs with an assured hand a taut, supremely crafted film that benefits from the lensing of ace Sol Polito, who uses all the rich vocabulary of film noir, including stark light/dark contrasts and dramatic shadow patterning.
SORRY, WRONG NUMBER has become a test case for the genre. Lucille Fletcher, the writer of the original radio drama, penned her own screenplay, and used the opportunity to deepen the characters through well-written flashbacks. The good, largely male cast includes the young Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey, Ed Begley and Leif Erickson.

FULL SCREEN

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