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Sorry, Wrong Number

(1948 b 89')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Lucille Fletcher adapted her own radio play about an invalid woman who by telephone learns of a planned murder and then discovers how her husband is involved.

Leona Stevenson (Barbara Stanwyck) is trying to call her husband, but the line is busy. She hears two men planning a murder. Leona is an invalid, and she tells operators and the police that a woman on 2nd Avenue will be murdered at 11:15 that night. Her father James Cotterell (Ed Begley) calls, and she calls her husband's secretary (Dorothy Neumann), who says that Sally Lord (Ann Richards) came to see him. Waldo Evans calls Leona and asks for her husband. Leona calls Sally, who says she will call back.

Leona recalls meeting Henry Stevenson (Burt Lancaster) when he was dancing with Sally. Leona gets him to drive her new car. She says her father owns drugstores, and they kiss. Sally tells Leona to stay away from Henry. Leona argues with her father about Henry, and he gives in. Leona and Henry are wed and visit Europe. Leona finds Sally's photo.

Sally calls Leona and says that her husband Fred Lord (Leif Erickson) read about Henry and is investigating him. Sally follows Fred and two men to a Staten Island beach house. A boat brings a man, and she sees Fred carrying a briefcase. Sally meets Henry. Sally tells Leona that Henry left for a call and did not come back.

Leona hears the doorbell but can't answer it. Sally calls Leona and says the house was burned, and Evans escaped arrest. Leona hears a telegram that Henry is going to a convention. Leona calls Dr. Alexander (Wendell Corey), who tells how Henry learned of her illness.

Henry tells Leona he wants a new job, but she tries to stop him from leaving. Cotterell tells Henry that Leona had a heart attack. Cotterell won't let Henry work for anyone else. A year later Henry wants Leona to move with him into an apartment, but she says no and has another attack. Henry says a year ago Leona became an invalid; but Dr. Alexander says her illness is mental, and he wrote to tell her.

Evans calls Leona with a message for Henry not to bring the money because Morano was arrested.

Henry talks with Evans in the lab and his car, and he suggests they sell illegal drugs. Evans tells Leona they did it for seven months. In the Staten Island house Morano (William Conrad) asks Evans and Henry where the drugs are. Morano demands $200,000 and implies Leona could be killed.

Evans give Leona a phone number, but it is the morgue. Leona calls for a nurse. A man sneaks in a window. Henry calls Leona from New Haven, and she gives him the message from Evans. Henry sees it is 11:10 and tells Leona to shout out the window, but the man kills her. Henry calls back, and the man says, "Sorry, wrong number."

This complicated suspense thriller is drawn from the currently popular medium of radio plays and reflects how important the telephone has become in modern communication. The story also explores the issues of family wealth and the trap that can result from marrying into it.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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