TV Cream

Films: W is for...

Wrong Box, The

The definitive Sunday afternoon film, equally ideal for our patented ‘timing the Sunday roast by Sir Rich Ralphardson’s antics’ scheme, or a bit later in the day when it crops up on telly in the post-prandial plopped-on-the-pouffe slot. Sit back and lap up Sellers’ catnip quack, Pete and Dud’s pony and trap-piloting shifties with a thing about, er, ‘thing’, Wilfrid Lawson’s magnificently tenebrous butler to a just-about-bearably wimpish Mick Mucklebrass, Tony Hancock morosely plodding after all and sundry, and at the centre of it all, are John Mills and Rich Ralphardson as the tontine totterers, shambling from train wreck to graveside, the latter bewildering cabbies and serial killers alike with his constant stream of Potteresque blether. Is it really that good, though? Have the long years since we last properly sat down in front of it submerged the memory of the doubtless prevalent longeurs, leaving only the proud summits of the opening montage, the train crash and Peter Sellers going ‘Come in!’ poking gingerly above the surface of the amnemonic lagoon? Well, your guess is as good as ours (and probably rather less stupidly phrased to boot), but we’re willing to bet a strangler’s ransom it still comes up fresh as paint. Oh, and there’s no avoiding it with this one we’re afraid, so pardon us while we list rather alarmingly – Jeremy ‘Have Been Watching’ Lloyd, James ‘Double Kill’ Villiers, Graham ‘Cranes’ Stark, Nicholas ‘Goes to you, Clement’ Parsons, Willoughby ‘And Did Those Feet..?’ Goddard, Valentine ‘Just follow the humming’ Dyall, Leonard ‘Dog Ends’ Rossiter, Timothy ‘Mayfly and the Frog’ Bateson, Avis ‘Everybody Say Cheese’ Bunnage, Cicely ‘Buses’ Courtneidge, Peter ‘Not the Airplane! one’ Graves, Irene ‘Fruitbat’ Handl, The Late Great John ‘Relevance Factor’ Junkin, John ‘File It Under Fear’ Le Mesurier, Nanette ‘Contractual obligation’ Newman, Norman ‘People want big things!’ Rossington, Marianne ‘Temps’ Stone, Thorley ‘A real live Russian! They let you out, do they?’ Walters, André ‘Rillington’ Morell, The Temperance Seven, and the Bournemouth Strangler is played by the bloke who choreographed the meths drinkers in Theatre of Blood, in one of those perilously petty coincidences that warms our cockles but seems to freeze everyone else’s, judging by the silence that’s just descended on the room. Ho hey. ‘Slackly directed’, the critical nits aver, copying furiously from that last film guide to use that exact phrase. Well, Forbsy’s no Hitch, we’d be the first to admit, but then The Thirty-Nine Steps this manifestly ain’t. It’s a pitch-perfect Sunday afternoon film, a neglected genre of which certain gluepot hacks seem to have little knowledge. Not that we should really be surprised at that, mind. You can see the TV aerials too, but who bloody cares?



  1. Richard16378

    April 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Not forgetting the quirky animated cartwheel title sequence & the John Barry theme.

  2. Sidney Balmoral James

    July 1, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    This is a bit of a dog’s breakfast of a film but Peter Sellers is very funny. Ralph Richardson is very droll and everyone else either overacts – Pete and Dud, Wilfrid Lawson (well dur!), John Mills – or underplays -Hancock (near the end in more than one sense), Michael Caine, Nanette Newman. Not sure I’d ever sit through this again but worth looking up the Sellers sequences on YouTube.

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