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The Wrong Box (1966)

The Wrong Box (1966)




John Mills

Ralph Richardson

Michael Caine

Peter Cook

Dudley Moore


Directed by Bryan Forbes


Based on the 1889 book of the same name The Wrong Box by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, which I have not read by the way. The movie has a lot of stars running around in what I believe was meant to be chaos in a wheel of madness. But what I got in the end was a disjointed script in a thorn of silliness which ended in a way that made absolutely no sense. It will leave you in the same wheel of madness, thinking it has achieved some sort of comedic uproar moment.

Set in the 19th century, the plot tells us about a group of 20 young boys who put into a tontine £1,000 each (their parents and guardians did it). What is a tontine? Well in the 18th and 19th century when this was popular it involves a group of people putting money together inform of an investment fund, where the proceeds are shared amongst the members annually. When one member dies, their payout entitlements devolve to the other participants. This will continue until the last man standing.

In this tontine, there will be no annual payout, the profits are rolled over, and the final lump sum will be given to the last living member. As the movie starts, we see 18 of the members die off over the years which would be between 60 – 70 years, living behind two brothers who don't talk to one another, even though they live side by side. We have Masterman Finsbury whose sole ward is Michael (Michael Caine), who is set to benefit from the tontine when Masterman’s brother Joseph dies. Joseph Finsbury has three wards Morris, John and Julia who also will get the benefit when Masterman dies.

Michael seems to be a dunce and he has taken a liking into Julia who also shares the same feelings. They seem to be in a world of their own, while Morris and John plot how to get the money. They have spent all their lives keeping Joseph safe and alive for the years. When they received a message from Michaeal that the elderly Masterman was dying and has asked to meet with his brother, they rejoiced. They were at that time out of town and were eager to make it back so they can claim their long-awaited reward.

The movie is about this journey back for Joseph, Morris and John. Which involved the death of an unknown man, mistaken identity and plans going up in smoke because someone delivered the wrong box to the wrong Finsbury house.

To note about the two Finsbury, Joseph was a very annoying fellow who never knows when to stop talking and can bore a living man to death with his knowledge of not so popular facts. Masterman is a crooked fellow whose wish of seeing his brother before he dies, is a ruse to make sure he is the last man standing.

The movie’s comedy was not funny, and the movie plays on the idea that every character is wonky down to the last one.

I did not enjoy my time watching this old movie.


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