Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Years before the story proper in The Wrong Box gets under way, a "tontine" is drawn up on behalf several young British boys. Each of the boys' parents had placed 1000 pounds in a pool, to be invested and expanded upon. The resultant fortune will go to the last surving member of the tontine. A series of montages depicts the various demises of the heirs (our favorite occurs when one of them is inadvertently beheaded while being knighted by Queen Victoria). Finally, only two of the tontine participants are left: aged brothers Ralph Richardson and John Mills. On his last legs, Mills is determined that Richardson will not outlive him, and to that end attempts to kill his brother; each attempt fails spectacularly, with the doddering Richardson none the wiser. Standing to benefit from the tontine are Mills' dimwitted med-student son Michael Caine and Richardson's greedy nephews Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. When Richardson is supposedly killed in a train wreck, Cook and Moore don't want the authorities to find out, so they appropriate what they think is their uncle's corpse and ship it home in a box. Thus it is that Caine finds the body of a perfect stranger on his doorstep. The farcical complications begin flying about thick and fast from this point onward. Among the participants in this wacky gigglefest are such formidable talents as Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Wilfred Lawson, Thorley Walters, Norman Rossington, Irene Handl and Cicely Courtenedge. Based on a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Wrong Box is a delightful harkback to the glory days of Britain's Ealing comedies. We were so wrapped up in the story that we didn't even notice all those TV antennae sprouting up on the rooftops of Victorian London.
brother, tontine, corpse, inheritance, murder-attempt, accident, con/scam