The Wrong Box

Synopsis: A tontine is established for twenty boys in 1818 England - a tontine being a kind of insurance wager in which money is invested by each participant, to grow with interest, with the last survivor to get the substantial payout. We watch the group dwindle until only two elderly brothers are left in 1882. One brother is watched by his nephews who will keep him alive at all costs; the other lives in ill health and poverty as the only support of his perpetually confused grandson. Statues and bodies are switched, in the wrong boxes, until everyone is sure that one (or both) of the brothers has died. Now if they can only make it seem as if the other brother died first, over a hundred thousand pounds (in Victorian England, when a pound was a pound) will be theirs.
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Director(s): Bryan Forbes
Production: Columbia Pictures Corporation
  Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
105 min


Gentlemen, I bid you welcome,

and beg at the very outset to be allowed

to express my extreme gratitude...

That you have seen fit to grace this noble room

with your presence this afternoon.

I... I have here to hand

a document of high concern

and vast importance...

Vast importance

to each and every one of you.

This document, gentlemen,

sets forth the rules regulating an agreement

to enter upon a venture known as a tontine.

"... tontine. "

A tontine is, in point of fact, a lottery,

a lottery, plain and simple, gentlemen.

"... simple. "

Into this tontine each parent - or guardian -

has placed for each of you and in your name

the sum of 1,000 sterling.

The sum so constituted is to be administered

by a self-perpetuating board

and held in trust by them

for whomsoever survives.

"... survives. "

This 20,000 will grow and grow,

under astute management,

who will charge but a nominal fee,

and this by then great sum

will be handed to the one amongst you

who is the last surviving member of the tontine.

It is as plain and as simple as that.

Therefore, allow me to say, in conclusion,

long life to all.

But since no other shall be present

when the winner has won...

"... has won... "

...let us cheer him now.

He whom fate sees fit to favour.

Oh. Hip-hip.


- Hip-hip.

- Hooray!

- Hip-hip.

- Hooray!

- Cannon reloaded?

- Cannon reloaded, sir.

- Then fire.

- But sir...

You heard me, man. Fire!

Never fear, ladies. He knows his prey.

Ah, see, yonder.


In the name of the Queen...

And so it gives me great pleasure

to name this ship Repulsion.

God bless all who sail in her.

You swine!

They're disorganised!

Victory must soon be ours. Sound the charge!

- Sound the what, sir?

- Give that to me, you fool.

Now, then, my good men, what's all this

poppycock about the mine not being safe, eh?

Speak up. What's wrong with it?

Not yet, Tumba.

You must learn the white man's code.

It is not sporting, it is not done,

to fire at rhino until he's actually charging.

When I die, my son...

...all this will be yours.

Yes, Father.

In recognition of your many and varied services

to the Crown...

...I dub thee...


We are frightfully sorry, Sir Robert.

- Michael...

- Yes...

Yes, Grandfather?

The time has come...


Yes, I really believe the time has come.

At last. At last.

Not so fast, sir! You're a very quick man

with the sheet, Michael.

Oh, yes, yes. You see, sir, I thought...

I know what you thought, sir.

But let me tell you something.

Death cannot be assumed

simply because signs of life are not present.

Hasn't medical school taught you

how to take a pulse?

Oh, we have touched on it, sir.

But mostly, we cut up things.


- Do you know what this is?

- No, sir. I gave it to you unopened.

- Hackett is dead.

- Hackett, sir?

Mm-hm. Ebenezer Hackett.

I went to school with him.

An unpleasant name for a dirty little boy

and an even dirtier old man.

Died of the pox, no doubt.

Now, the point is, sir, it only leaves

my brother Joseph and me in the tontine.

- Oh, yes, I see, sir.

- Do you, sir? Do you?

I doubt it. I doubt it.

But we're not concerned with you, are we, eh?

We're concerned with me -

my thoughts and feelings.

- That's right, sir.

- Yes.

Now, you're to go and get Joseph

and tell him I want to see him.

Yes, sir.

- Won't that upset you, sir?

- Upset me? But of course it'll upset me.

But nothing will upset me more

than not winning the tontine

and leaving you with a mountain of debts

and a doubtful future

as an idiot

in a profession of rogues and charlatans.

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Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, musician and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and A Child's Garden of Verses. Stevenson was a literary celebrity during his lifetime, and now ranks as the 26th most translated author in the world. His works have been admired by many other writers, including Jorge Luis Borges, Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Proust, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James, Cesare Pavese, Emilio Salgari, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton, who said that Stevenson "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins". more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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