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Sorry, Wrong Number

review by Zach B.

 

 

Not Rated

Running Time: 88 minutes

Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards, Wendell Corey, Harold Vermilyea

Screenplay by: Lucille Fletcher
Based upon her radio play

Directed by: Anatole Litvak

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Mono, French Mono, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (12 Scenes)

Released: May 28th, 2002

 

 

Based on one of the most popular radio plays of all time that is remembered by many who have fond memories of that era, and then adapted into many more mediums, "Sorry, Wrong Number" is classic thrills at its finest. Many are sure to remember at least one incarnation of the story, which has been replayed and remade several times. Still, I've now only seen the 1948 film version, and I found it to be quite riveting and engrossing. I do like classic movies, but I must admit I don't always get into them right away. However, from the start, where the plot kicks off into high gear immediatly, I was incredibly absorbed into the story. I was on the edge of my seat, actually. Simply put, it's classic storytelling at its best.

Lucille Fletcher wrote the screenplay, basing it on her famous radio play. It's most likely because of Fletcher all of this film does work out and succeeds quite nicely. Again, no time is wasted and the plot kicks into full gear almost instantly. While so many of us these days are used to us getting our thrills from far out settings, mysterious motives of standard characters, special effects, musical scores serving as cues and haunting overdone story themes, anyone looking for a natural thrill that doesn't involve anything fancy will surely enjoy "Sorry, Wrong Number." The key to the film that it revolves around normal and three-dimensional characters that aren't flat, but each serve a purpose to advance the story. The characters make the story so thrilling and absorbing, they're the ones who manipulate and control this plot. It all lies within what they're doing and what they have to say.

Anatole Litvak's directing is top notch. It's razor sharp, as he keeps this movie going at a great pace, never letting down anything. It all moves naturally. It's not bogged down in slow scenes or anything, there's always something to notice, find detail in and getting caught up in. The performances only add on to the filmmaking, as a young Burt Lancaster is quite convincing and charming as husband Henry. His sly ways and sharp persona make this a fine performance. Meanwhile, Barbara Stanwyck, who was nominated for an Oscar® for her performance, captures the distraught, terror and madness her character faces. It's a beautifully layered performance that is complex, as her character of Leona is very vulnerable.

So this leads us to our plot. Stanwyck plays Leona Stevenson, who, is sick in bed and tries calling her husband's office one night, only to listen in on a call where she hears two men planning out a murder of a woman. In panic, she tries to get help from the operator and police, but it's no use. Things just get more crazy when she recieves mysterious calls from people that are connected to her, and comes up with a theory her husband may be trying to kill her. What happens? For a good character suspense ride, "Sorry, Wrong Number" is a film worth dialing up.

 

Presented in its original 1.33:1 full screen format, the film actually looks pretty good. It's a bit old, and so, there are noticable flaws such as scratch lines, blemishes, pieces of dirt, grain and a somewhat musty look. Still, despite that, it has some shimmering too but keeps up with an overall fresh look to it.

 

Classic two channel mono here... in English or French. For an old film, it sound particuarly well. No, it's not the greatest mono track or anything, but given the age of the film and how it's classic and all, it's perfectly suitable and really fits the bill. Fidelity is pretty good, while dialogue is clear, so there should be no problems hearing what characters are saying. The sound effects have their nice touches in the track (particuarly phone rings and hang-up noises), and the music fits well. There is some slight hiss in the background now and then, but it's not too noticable. Solid stuff overall for old mono tracks. Also included are closed captions and subtitles in English.

 

An oldie but a goodie... the original Theatrical Trailer in full frame. Got to love these "suspense" trailers from the golden age of cinema.

 

"Sorry Wrong Number" is a fine classic movie, where the suspense is quite believable and is not done through fancy special effects or camerawork, but rather, through its characters. This DVD presents the film nicely. Decent mono tracks in English and French, a decent transfer and a fun theatrical trailer make this a worthy rental, and a nice purchase for fans of the film.