Anatole Litvak, 1948
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster
In Manhattan, the bedridden Leona Stevenson is trying to get in touch with her husband Henry when he doesn’t return home after work one evening. She is accidentally connected to a call where two men discuss a woman’s impending murder, which will occur that night at 11:15 p.m., timed with a passing train to make sure no one hears her screams. Leona, a spoiled heiress, dramatically insists that someone intervene (and find her husband0, but she is ignored by the telephone company, the police, and her doting father, who is hours away in Chicago; they all assume she is ill and bored. But soon, Leona herself begins to put the clues together and, after a series of alarming phone calls, realizes that she might be the murderer’s target.
Adapted from Lucille Fletcher's wildly popular radio play from Suspense, which originally starred Agnes Moorehead, this began as more of a Gothic suspense story, but was transformed into something closer to noir in this film adaptation. Gothic-noir was relatively popular during the period with films like Rebecca, Gaslight, I Walked with a Zombie, The Two Mrs. Carrolls, and others. Sorry, Wrong Number becomes less of a “woman’s picture” (as the above were known) and more a film noir thanks to its use of flash back, the disorientation of time and space, and the drug heist subplot that was played down at the Production Code’s insistence.