Classic British campy comedy of errors. I laughed from begining to end. Filmed in 1966 it is based on a 1889 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne. The cast is made up of British actors. Top notch comic actors of the time. John Mills, Ralph Richardson, Michael Caine, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Peter Sellers, Irene Handl and Tony Hancock.
The plot is convoluted mishaps. Great comedic timing. It opens with two elderly brothers Masterman (Mills) and Joseph Finsbury (Richardson) who are the last surviving members of a tontine, or a lottery of life. It was set up when they were children. The goal is to be the last member living, thereby granting him a substantial fortune. Masterman is being taken care of by his grandson Michael (Caine), who is a going to medical school. His greedy cousins Morris (Cook) and John (Moore) do their best to keep their annoying uncle Joseph alive. Masterman, who hasn’t talked to his despised brother in many years, summons Joseph to his “deathbed,” intending to kill him so that Michael can get the money.
Meanwhile during a trip to London, Joseph escapes from his keepers, taking refuge in a compartment where a creepy little man is traveling. Joseph launches into boring this occupant with a litany of trivial facts (something he does with everyone he crosses paths with). The other man is actually the “Bournemouth Strangler” hiding out on the train. Joseph leaves to smoke a cigarette,and forgets his coat, which the strangler puts on. The train crashes head-on into another on-coming train. In the confusion, Morris and John find the stranger’s mutilated body and mistakenly believe his is Uncle Joseph.
Morris comes up with a scheme to try to hide Uncle Joseph long enough for Masterman to pass away. Morris and John put the body in a barrel and have it shipped to their London home, which is right next door to Masterman’s residence. However, it is delivered to the Masterman house, of course.
Joseph manages to get back to London on his own and visits his brother; they fight. Meanwhile, Michael meets and falls in love with Joseph’s ward, Julia played by Nanette Newman. Things become complicated when Michael discovers the contents of the barrel and, after learning about the fight between Masterman and Joseph from family butler Peacock, assumes that his grandfather has killed his brother. Now it becomes a real mess.
There is a great chase, tons of truly funny slapstick. The level of talent is this movie is outstanding. If you are in the mood to visit some fun 1960’s cinema look this one up. The Wrong Box.