The Wrong Box (1966) - full transcript

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.


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.

So, get him and tell him I'm dying.

Thank you, Peacock.

Privilege, sir.

How's your grandfather this morning?

- He says he's dying, Peacock.
- Oh, they always say that, sir.

But Peacock,
he wants to see his brother Joseph.

- Master Joseph?
- Yes.

But they haven't even spoken to each other
for 40 years.

Yes, I know, Peacock.

He must be dying!

Yes. Goodbye, Peacock.

Good day...


There's too much excitement in this house.

Yes? Who is that?

Oh, er... yes.

Er... is Joseph Finsbury at home?

I can't hear you. Could
you speak a little lower?

Is Joseph Finsbury at home?


Is Joseph...

Oh, er...

Joseph Finsbury. Is he at home?

- No, he is not.
- Oh.

Could you tell me, then,
when he is expected?

Who, may I ask, is enquiring?

Oh, allow me...

Allow me to introduce myself.

I am Michael Finsbury, of the same name.


Oh, I'm sorry to seem so inhospitable,

but in the past 12 months alone,
over 320 girls in the Greater London area

have been attacked by persons unknown,
and many of them unnecessarily mutilated.

- Do come in.
- Oh, yes.

Thank you.

They do say
it's something to do with the weather.

Oh... yes.

So, you're Michael Finsbury?


Actually, Michael Hubert Gregory Finsbury.

And I am your cousin Julia.

Yes, I know.

- Do come in.
- Thank you.

Oh, yes...

Er... do you er...

- Do you breed birds?
- Oh, no.

Cousin Morris is an
ardent collector of eggs.

He has spent most of his adult life
in the pursuit of them.

- Most commendable.
- Oh, do you think so?

I find them... obscene.

Well, yes, yes, of course.
They are obscene.

I suddenly see now how obscene they are.

He doesn't pursue birds, I take it?

No. Only eggs.

Well, I'm glad,
because that would be even more obscene.

Oh, I can see you are a
deep thinker, like me.

What is your particular interest?

My consuming interest is the human body.


Oh, I am studying to be
a surgeon at St Mary's.

Oh, I see. So, that's where you go
every morning. I see you often...

er... through the window.

Oh, what an extraordinary coincidence!
I look at you through the window.

And I've often had a burning desire...
to nod.

But my grandfather
does not approve of such things.

Nor does my Uncle Joseph.



There it is, then.

Is he at home, your Uncle Joseph?

Oh, no. He is in Bournemouth, taking the
sun, with Cousin Morris and Cousin John.


Might I enquire why you are enquiring?

- Well, my grandfather is dying.
- Oh...

Oh, it's nothing serious.
He's been dying for years.

But now he seems
to have taken a turn for the worse,

and he wants desperately to see his
brother, before it is too late.

Well, you...
you could send Uncle Joseph a telegraph.

They say the telegraphic service
has much to commend it.

Yes. I've heard them say that.

What an excellent idea!

I've never sent one.

One should always broaden one's horizons.

Oh, yes...



That's what I'll do, then.

Oh, thank you for pointing out to me

how obscene eggs are.

It was a most... Excuse me.

It was a most illuminating observation.


It was superb of you to call.

Oh, not at all. I hope I shall
see a great deal more of you.

Well... off to St Mary's.

Oh, yes, I'm... I'm...

I'm sure they have need of you there.

Along with everything else, Uncle Joseph
says there are 124 tropical diseases

that can be contracted here in England.

Mainly from fresh fruit,
returning travellers and...

...hand towels in public places.

- 124?
- Yes.


I must make a note of that. Goodbye.


Oh! Oh!

Listen to me, all you eggs. I met him!

I've finally met him!


- Yes?
- It's Michael Finsbury again.

Oh... we mustn't make a habit of this.
People will begin to talk.

Oh, I fully agree.

It's just that...
I don't know where to send the telegraph.

Oh. Mrs Goodge's Boarding House...

Mrs Goodge's Boarding House...

...Flodden Road...
...Flodden Road...


- ...Hants.


John! What are you doing? You're supposed
to be looking after Uncle Joseph.

Ah! Uncle Joseph. I knew there was somebody
I was supposed to be looking after.

Erm... I merely threw my body
across this young lady,

to protect her from the falling... thing.

You realise you made me drop my grebe?

Oh, I'm awfully sorry, Morris.

Come outside.

Oh, Mr John,
do you think he'll get me my notice?

Oh, don't worry. I'll take care of Mrs Goodge.
Tonight, then, at eight, behind the bandstand.

Oh, you insatiable creature!

John, I'm waiting!

You must control this obsession you have for
chambermaids and other girls of that class.

I try. Night and day, I try.

Oh, there you are, boys.

I was just about to take this telegraph
to your uncle.

Telegraph? From whom?

I don't know, Mr Morris.
Private matters are private with me.

I'll take it.

We must relive our madness tonight.

Ten o'clock, under the pier.

I'm coming, Cousin.

- What is it, Cousin?
- Look at that.

We're going to win!

We're going to win!
We're going to win! We're going to win!

We're going to win! We're going to win!

Later. Later. No time for celebration now.


Have you been smoking again, Uncle?

And you're in a draught. The window's open.

Well, shut it, and get his coat and things.

Uncle, dear, you're going out.

Going out? Well, that'll be jolly.

Yes, you're going to London.

London? Yes.

Now, where did I put it? Where is it?

Ah, here it is. Now, London.

Now, if you ascribe a number
to each letter of the alphabet,

beginning with A as one and B as two,
culminating with the letter Z as 26,

then the letters that compose
the word London add up to 74,

which, coincidentally, is my age.

- Lovely, Uncle. Now, read this.
- Yes. Get into your coat.

Why... Why this unseemly haste?

- Your brother is dying.
- What did you say?

What? Masterman? Masterman dying? This
must be the effect of the nutmeg tarts.

Nutmeg tarts!

At Harrow he lived on little else.

- Where are your gloves?
- I don't know.

I have for some time
been compiling exhaustive notes

on the peculiarities
of spices and herbs in common use,

and I have discovered
that it can be authoritatively proved

that the excessive indulgence in nutmeg

leads to hallucination and
general debilitation.

Pepper, on the other hand, in any form
or variety, passes through the body

without any effect on the organs.

It has absolutely no value,
nutritive or otherwise.

But, in the case of cinnamon or cloves...

- Uncle...
- Yes? You have a question?

Read your paper.

- Tontine!
- Lovely word!

- Tontine!
- A derivation from the name Lorenzo Tonti,

a banker of Neapolitan persuasion.

Read your paper, Uncle.

Morris, have you any idea
how much it's worth?

Well over £100,000.

And we've earned every penny of it.

True, Cousin. True.
We've devoted our lives to him.

We were two little orphans.
We waited on him hand and foot.

It wasn't easy, keeping him alive.

Yes, it was difficult.

We kept him from the draughts.

We warmed his shoes before we put them on.

- We tucked him up in bed at night.
- Fed him every sort of tonic.

- Never thinking of ourselves.
- First in our hearts, first in our minds.

And now, after all these years...

he's gone.

He's gone?

You go that way.

- Excuse me, sir.
- Excuse you, sir?

Mannerless young pup!
Ought to be in the Army.

I beg your pardon, sir.
I take it these seats are not reserved.

I see you are proficient
in the ancient and noble art of knitting.

I'm sure you know that examples of
knitting, much like your afghan there,

date back to the mainstream

of the Egyptian civilisation.

Ah, the avocational activities of man
are many and varied.

Some demand skill - yours, for instance.

Carpentry, or the playing of games
with balls of various sizes.

- Have you found him?
- No.

Come on, then. This way.

Some demand inspiration -

oil painting or the writing of epitaphs.

The rest of us, an uninspired
lot, collect things.

My nephew, for instance...

...with whom I'm travelling...
collects birds' eggs.

And I, for the last 63 years,
have been collecting facts.

- He seems safe enough.
- Yes.

What a joy it is to indulge in convivial
conversation with a fellow being, a kindred spirit.

This will prove the most amiable journey -

you pursuing your hobby and me mine.

"Bournemouth strangler escapes.
Large-scale murder hunt in three counties."

Ah, murder and murderers.

I once gave an informal
lecture on the subject.

I wonder if you're aware, sir, of the fact

that there is an increasing number
of unsolved murders every year.

Now, this fact I gleaned from a pamphlet

by the noted criminologist
Sir Henry Stanhope -

whose own murder, I might add,
was never solved.

My word, sir, I perceive we are
travelling at a goodish rate.

You realise, sir, I state
only facts, no opinions,

and this fascinates everyone I meet.

Oh, don't be alarmed.

I shall continue, but for the moment,
I must take my leave.

Next stop: Basingstoke!

Basingstoke, next stop!

Er... Morris,
I may or may not be back in a moment.

Uncle, where are you going? Uncle!

- How dare you?
- My apologies. I'm looking for my uncle.

- Well, do I look like anybody's uncle?
- No, no. I'm terribly sorry.

- What do you make that out to be?
- What's that?

- 'Tain't, is it?
- It is, you know.

It's the 4.40 out of London!

It's the 4.50 out of Bournemouth!

Help me! Help me, somebody!
I think there's been an accident.


- Yeah?
- We haven't heard the last of this.

Drag them out of the cab!

What's going on here, sir?
Control yourself.

Look here! Stop all this damn rioting.

Now, look here, you men.
Dowse that fire in the baggage van.

Now, the children will arrange themselves by
height, and the women in alphabetical order.

Now, I want a couple of volunteers.
You and you. Now, follow me.

Get those bags down. Form a human chain.

Sir... I didn't lose my right eye in the
Indian Mutiny to have my left eye offended

by the youth of England
standing with their arses hanging out.

Dress yourself, sir. Dress yourself.

One of the most disgusting sights
I've ever seen. Dress yourself, sir.

You are, I suppose, aware of the fact
that accidents occur with more frequency

on standard-gauge railways?

Abigail? Abigail? Abigail?

Has anyone seen Abigail?

John! Come out of there at once.
Where's Uncle Joseph? Where is he?

Er... I... was just having
a look for him in there.

- Come along.
- Morris...

Do you realise
it's a criminal offence to wear that coat?

I'm not wearing any trousers.

But... but that too is a criminal affair.

Uncle Joseph?

- I hope you don't mind if I take my leave.
- Oh, would you, sir?

Uncle Joseph?

Uncle Joseph?

Uncle Joseph?


Oh... oh, no.

Oh, don't tell me. I can't bear it.
Is it him?

- Of course it's him!
- Well, how do you know?

Well, look at his coat. It's his coat.

Is he dead?

What's left of him is very dead indeed.

Are you going to say a prayer or something?

Not at a time like this.

Now, you listen to me, Uncle Joseph.
You may be dead, but you listen to me.

You're a nasty, mean,
spiteful, vindictive old man,

to do this to two little orphans.

Your brother's on his deathbed.
Couldn't you have waited a day?

You stupid oaf!

- Look, I'll get some help.
- What's the use?

Wait. Let me think.

- Into the woods.
- Oh. Right. Yes.

- With him!
- Who?

- Uncle Joseph.
- Into the woods with Uncle Joseph?

Don't stand there.
The tontine - we may still win it.

- But he's dead.
- He's not dead until I say he's dead.


Hey, sir!

Ah. I wonder, sir, if you and your fine
bay gelding are heading for London.

- I am, sir.
- And what would you ask a passenger?

- Your company would be payment enough, sir.
- Oh...

Well, thank you.


Well, I wonder if you realise how many times
the word "whip" occurs in the Old Testament.

174 times.

Oh, I see you are impressed.
But that figure is infinitesimal,

when you consider that the Bible contains

774,176 words altogether.

And it is a remarkable fact...

Do get on, or we'll be here all night.

Well, a penknife's not
the ideal tool, is it?

Anyway, I don't think we ought to do this.
I don't want to go to prison.

Don't start snivelling
in that revolting way.

If you can't dig a hole for him, cover
him in leaves or something. Cover him.

But why do I always have
to do the dirty work?

Because you are remarkably stupid.

Yes, I forgot that. Sorry.

In any case, I have to look after my hands.

Petal-soft hands are the mark of a great
ornithologist. Now, get on with it!

Morris, I beg of you -
let's have done with this.

Let's get an undertaker. He won't be too
expensive and he'll do a professional job.

- We're not burying him.
- We're not?

We're merely hiding him.

- Merely hiding him.
- What we need is a venal doctor.

But uncle Joseph's dead! It's too late.

Not for him, for us. Now, you remember
that chamber maid you got into erm?

- Thing.
- Thing. Who was the doctor who did the er?

Thing. Er Pratt. Dr Pratt.

Was he venal?

I didn't like to ask.

- Well, did he do the?
- Thing. Yes.

- Good.
- But what's he got to do with it?

He's part of the plan.

Now, you and I are the only two people in the
world who know that Uncle Joseph is erm...

- Thing.
- Dead. And we won't tell anyone.

But people are bound to
find out sooner or later.

Not quite yet.

Now, Uncle Masterman, at best,
has only two or three days to live.

When he goes, I'll announce that Uncle
Joseph has died of a heart attack

on hearing the tragic news
of his brother's death.

I then go along to your
accommodating Dr er...

- Pratt.
- Thing.

He provides me with a blank death
certificate for Uncle Joseph.

I fill in the date and the tontine is mine.

- Ours.
- We'll go into that later.

There come moments in life, cousin,
when every man must find moral courage.

Your moment is about to come.

- It is?
- It is.

I'll go to London, tell everybody that
you and Uncle Joseph have been delayed.

You go back to Bournemouth
and remain there till I send for you.

I see, but erm... what about him?

I'm coming to that.

You must find a suitable box or container,
crate him up and send him back to London.

We shall, after all,
need him at the funeral.

Crate him in a box? What sort of box?

Something of suitable size and robustness
for a man in that condition.

If you'll allow me, sir.

I will take charge of the
rest of the packing.

All right, Peacock.

But don't lean too far in the barrel.

I say! We've received a telegraph.
It must be from Uncle.

Oh, drat.

No. It's from Lady Pitman.

She's sending back that statue we sent her,
says it's a fraud.

"I am having it crated
and sent back to you at once."

Was it a fraud, Peacock?

Life is a fraud, Master Michael.

Yes, Peacock.

Well, this is all right, isn't it? This
should fetch a good price at Sotheby's.

Well, if it arrives in one piece, sir.

Well, there's nothing else to sell.

Except the piano.

It's all right, Peacock, I'll answer it.

Michael Finsbury, do I presume?

- Yes?
- I'm your cousin, Morris Finsbury.

- Oh, do come in.
- Thank you.

- Isn't Uncle Joseph with you?
- Alas, no.

My dear uncle, like your beloved grandfather,
is of advancing years and declining health.

Grandfather will be disappointed.
May I take your coat?

No, thank you. No, thank you.

Uncle Joseph is naturally deeply concerned
with his brother's death - I mean, illness.

- Or is he already?
- Oh, no, no, not yet.

What a relief to us all.

I know you are a medical student, cousin,

so I need hardly remind you
that blood is thicker than water.

Yes, five times, as I believe.

Uncle Joseph is valiantly gathering
what remains of his strength

in order to come to London
in the next day or two

to be with his dear brother... at the end.

I do hope he will be in time.

Uncle Masterman is that low?


Oh, I am filled with an immense grief...

that that proud and lovely man should...

Oh, my God.


Sir, it's me - Maurice.

Oh, look at that noble face ravaged
by time, those eyes filled with pain.

Oh, I should never have forgiven myself,
if I hadn't seen you before.

- Cousin...
- But you shouldn't be out of bed.

- Cousin, this is our butler.
- No need to call him.

I can assist my own flesh and blood.

Who's the butler?

I have that honour, sir.

How dare you embrace me!

Grandfather is upstairs, sleeping.

All right, Peacock, you may go.

Thank you, Master Michael, sir.

Thank you, too, Colonel.

I, too, must be on my way, cousin.
I have some urgent, pressing business.

You will let us know
the moment Uncle Joseph arrives.

As soon as I've got the date.
That is, immediately.

A great pity, cousin, that grief is the
agent responsible for bringing us together

after all these years.

Cousin Morris had no trousers on, Peacock.

If you say so, sir.

For heaven's sake, Julia.

Oh, it's you, Morris. I thought it was
the Bournemouth strangler.

It says in the papers
he might be in London.

Do I look like the Bournemouth Strangler?

Well... yes, you could be, Morris.

Why are you wearing that strange coat?

Because it suits me to wear it.

I think you should have it shortened.

Isn't Uncle Joseph with you?

Er... no, erm...

the news in The Telegraph came
as a great shock to him.

He is remaining in Bournemouth
with Cousin John.

And now I must bid you good night.

Good night, cousin.

You won't always wear that coat, will you?
It's very frightening.

It could easily have been
the Bournemouth Strangler instead of you.

I might have been stalked by him and, in
fleeing, been trampled by a runaway horse.

Perhaps a large hole in my head, my brains
spilling out all over Shaftesbury Avenue.

Oh, wouldn't that have been
a homecoming for you,

going to the mortuary to identify my poor,
crushed body?

Body? What body?

No body, Morris. I was just thinking aloud.

You mustn't use that word.
It isn't becoming.

Oh, I meant a dead body, Morris.

Not what is under a person's clothing.


Now, why... did I say that?

See that it gets on the
first available train.

If I could help you with your baggage.
It's rather heavy.

There have, of course, been many editions
of the Bible, some famous, some infamous.

For instance, there is the Wicked Bible,

so called because the word "not"
is omitted from the seventh commandment,

making it read: "Thou
shalt commit adultery."

A small error which could encourage certain
sections of the populace

to a frenzy of immorality unknown
since first-century Rome.

Speaking of which, have you heard
that the Emperor Heliogabalus?

I'm afraid, sir, that
this is as far as I go.

What? Oh, splendid. Excellent, excellent.
Many, many thanks.

13 hours seemed but so many minutes.

Well, perhaps you might care to know
who your fellow traveller was.

Non other than Joseph Finsbury,
scholar extraordinary, lecturer,

and one of the two Englishmen living
who can speak pure Swahili.

Well, said, sir.

Well, well, who knows,
perhaps our paths may cross again?

- God save us.
- Ah!

Oh! Good.

Good, yes. Thank you, Peacock.

It is Peacock, isn't it?

It is, sir.

Ah! How long has it been?

I came as quick as I could.

It's Master Joseph, Peacock.

Master Joseph!

Oh! Forgive me, sir.

It must be all of 40 years.

- Yes.
- Yes, yes.

I remember clearly the last time I saw you.

On that very day, the American, Colonel
Colt, inventor of the Colt revolver,

used electricity to detonate a torpedo,

thereby destroying a brig in full sail
upon the Potomac in Washington DC.

The present, not the former capital of the
United States, New York City, being the first...

I take it my brother is upstairs?

Yes, sir.

- May I announce you, sir?
- No, no. I will announce myself.

You might perhaps bring me a cup of tea.
I am a trifle piqued.

With pleasure, sir.

China, of course. You'll remember,
I developed a taste for it in Turkey

during the 23rd revolution there.

Oh, ha ha, yes.



Is that you, Mother?

It is I - Joseph.


Brother Joseph.

What unexpected joy.

Don't tax yourself, brother.

I am raised in spirits already.

Doesn't raise mine to find you so,

lying in the very bed
in which our dear papa passed from us.

I am soon to follow his example, I fear.

Never say it.

But I do say it.

Last week old Hackett.

Next week, or even before...

...old Masterman.

Ah, yes. Poor Hackett.

I must somehow attend his funeral.

Our generation, brother,
is on its way to Valhalla.

Or, as the Red Indians so aptly put it,
the happy hunting ground.

Let me... give you a
glass of good cheer. Hm?

It will seal the occasion...

and revive your spirits.

Oh, no, thanks. I've asked for some tea.


Ah... Ah...

Oh, what... What is it, brother?

Shall I send for a physician?

Oh, no, no. No, send for no-one.

I only want you.

- Jo-jo.
- Oh... oh, Jo-jo.

Jo-jo. Oh, those boyhood names.

Oh! What fond memories they recall.


My goodness! My gracious!

What... What is it?

Are you hurt?

No, no, no. I needed some air.

I must... I must have air.

Open the window, Joseph.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Oh. Bless my soul.

You're down again.

Here. Let me...

Come on. Oh.

Yes, now, you lie here...
and let me open the window.

What was that? What was that?

Surely... Surely the populace
are not demonstrating?

Yesterday, do you know,
I had the narrowest of escapes.

- Upon my soul, I could have been killed.
- Killed?

I was in the water closet
of the Bournemouth Express,

when it quite unaccountably exploded,

thereby extensively damaging
the rest of the train.

I can't really think that I was to blame,
although at the time I was smoking.

But it didn't... damage you?

No, no, no.

Thanks for the thought.

I confess, I am a trifle ruffled.

Yes... I think I'll lie low
at the club a few days.

My nephews have been most annoying of late.

Oh, brother, no, no. Don't test yourself.

Sit down. It's you who should sit up here.

You may have a nutmeg poisoning.

Take a sip of your glass of good cheer,
dear old chap.

It may prove effective.

Do you know, it's the
most astonishing thing,

there is a tribe of aborigines
in Southwest Tasmania

who distil the chewed
bark of the banyan tree.

Enough, you pedantic, boring old poop!

A pedantic, boring, old...

- Poop!
- I shall leave you... brother.

You've lost your reason.

Reason? Reason, yes.

But not... not the tontine!

Here it is!

Too late to apologise.

- Name of Finsbury, sir?
- Yes?

Sign here, please, sir.

Where do you want it, sir?

Anywhere, my good man, anywhere.

Er... thank you for the tea and cakes.

I shall taste them all
through my dissection class.

Would you say your work
is in the nature of a vocation?

No, no, not quite. My
grandfather wished it.

He believes that if one cannot join
the ruling classes,

one must do one's best to deplete them.


Who is it?

Finsbury? Name of Finsbury, ma'am?

- Yes?
- There's a shipment for you, ma'am.

Cousin Morris must have excelled himself.

We're always having shipments of eggs,
but never anything like this before.

A little assistance would not be refused,
ma'am. If the staff were available.

- Oh, yes.
- Oh, allow me to help.

Oh, won't you miss your class?

Oh, that's of no consequence.
I doubt if my class will miss me.

- Would you hold my coat?
- Oh...

Dr Pratt?

Dr Pratt?

Dr Pratt?

Are you Dr Pratt?

What? What?

Are you Dr Pratt?

Are you?

Are you from the police?

- No.
- Then I am Dr Pratt, yes.

I was referred to you by a slight
acquaintance... for professional advice.

Oh, yes, yes.

Yes, mm.

Is it? Is it night or day?


Did you have an appointment to see me, sir?

I'm afraid not.

Then I will give you
a day appointment immediately.

Thank you very much.

Sit in that chair.

Don't sit on that moggy, sir.

She's the finest ratter in the East End.

- I'm terribly sorry.
- That's all right.

Quiet, Tiger.

Now, then, take off your clothes, sir...
and cough.

Doctor, it's not me.

It's certainly not me, sir.
It's probably one of my cats.

- Doctor!
- Come in!

- Come in!
- Doctor!

I am not here
on a matter of my personal health.

Would you be so good, sir,
as to er... say that again?

I did not come here
for reasons of my personal health.

What is the young lady's name?

- It is not that, Doctor.
- No, no, it isn't, no.

- I wanted to make a somewhat unusual request.
- Yes, yes.

I was wondering... do you by any chance...
happen to have any...

...death certificates?

Do I happen to have any death certificates?

What a monstrous thing, sir.

What a monstrous thing to say to a member
of the medical profession!

You realise the enormity
of what you have just said?


Do you have any death certificates?

- How may do you want?
- Just the one would be sufficient.


And if you'd be so good as to simply sign
your name and leave the remainder blank...

It'll cost you five shillings.

Price is no object.

Right, ten shillings,
then, payable in advance.

Stay there, I'll just get my medical pen.

Sorry, Button.

I keep them here. Yes.

Oh! Would you like to buy a moggy?

No, thank you, Doctor.

They make lovely pets.

You'd like to have a moggy in the home.

I collect eggs, Doctor.

Eggs? Oh, yes, I enjoy an egg myself.

Yes, they don't make god pets, though.

You can never get 'em in at night.
They're too quiet. Yes.

All I want is a death certificate, Doctor.

Don't we all? Yes, yes.

Yes, indeed.

Erm... you may return for it this evening.

I will have one of my staff collect it
from the place of its origin.

Meanwhile, keep taking the pills.

This evening, Doctor.

Take them this evening
it's as good a time as any, yes.

That's better.

Of course, I was not
always as you see me now.

I am sure you weren't, Doctor.

No, I had a magnificent practice
in the fair confines of Camden Town.

A charming area.

The sick and groggy travelled from all
over the world to queue at my door.

Wonderful work.

I specialised, you see, in rare,
malign diseases of the spleen.

How very interesting.

The accolade itself was
not beyond my grasp.

- Within it, I'm sure.
- Yes.

Until that unfortunate episode
with the Lord Mayor's wife.

Goodbye, Doctor.

Come in. Come in.

We are both old enough
to know what kisses lead to.

- Oh, yes.
- And if I may be blunt,

our children would be idiots.

Why? Is there insanity in your family?

What? Oh, no, no.

What I mean is, it is a proved medical fact
that marriage between cousins...

Oh, but we're not cousins.

Uncle Joseph is just my guardian.

I am an orphan.

- An orphan?
- Yes.

Oh, me, too. I never knew my parents.
They were killed in a balloon ascension.

I only knew mine vaguely.
My father was a missionary.

He was eaten by his Bible class.

- And your mother?
- She too.

They never eat one without the other.

Oh, it's... it's destiny!



Have you just made a delivery to number 11?

That's right, sir. Yeah.

Thank you.

Ah, cousin.
How is your dear grandfather this morning?

- Oh, she's well.
- What?

That is to say, he's just the same -
my grandfather, of course.

Well, I must be off to my Bible class.

Cousin... I mean, Julia.

Master Michael, sir, come quickly!

Your granddad! Come quickly!

Oh... Dr Slattery.

- Am I too late?
- No, no, no. I've just given him a sedative.

Is it anything serious?

As you know, I'm a medical student and I
would understand a more detailed diagnosis.

I see. Well, in that case, what I
think he had... to the nearest guess,

technically speaking, that is,
was a conniption fit.

Oh... yes.

Yes, well, don't worry about it.

Oh, what are you blubbing for, boy? Hm?

Such a good man.

Such a gentle soul to be taken from us.

- What are you talking about?
- My dear departed Uncle Masterman.

He's no more departed than you are,

probably less so, judging from
the last time you consulted me.

How are the boils, by the way, hm?

Miss Julia.

Excuse me.

Come, Julia. Good day, cousin.



What is this? I thought they'd all gone.

I took it to be Lady Pitman's
goods returned, sir.

Oh, dear.

A perfect day ruined.




- Uncle Joseph...
- Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you.

He came and went.

- Came and went?
- Yes.

It was terrible, sir.

- Oh, terrible, it was.
- What was?

The altercation between them.

- Altercation?
- Yes, terrible.

Things flying around.

Words, angry words.

And objects.



...Grandfather has murdered Uncle Joseph...

And then suffered a conniption fit.

No, never say...

And he did it because he wanted me
to have the tontine.

Mercy on us.

See for yourself, Peacock.

See for yourself.


What shall we do, Master Michael?

What shall we do?

There's only one thing to do, Peacock.

We must inform the police.

But your grandfather's good name, sir?

I shall say I did it.

No. I am an old man.

Let me say I did it.

- What was your motive?
- Money.

- They'd never believe you.
- Why not, sir?

After all, I haven't been
paid for seven years.

Begging your pardon, sir.

No, Peacock.

It's a noble gesture...

but I shall plead guilty to the crime.

But think of your career, sir.

You have your whole life before you.

Yes, there is that, of course.

Well, we must think of
something else, then.

Who is it?

I don't know, sir. Shall I ask?

I don't know.

Could it be the police already?

- I don't know. Do they work that fast?
- I don't know.


Oh, it's Miss Julia.

Listen, listen, listen.

Take your time getting to the door.


I'll slow it down a bit.

Thank you.

I've brought some broth
for Uncle Masterman.

My Uncle Joseph says it has
strong recuperative qualities.




Oh, I've brought a little sustenance
for your dear grandfather.

I thought that...


What is it?


You haven't any furniture.

- What?
- Oh, how sad.

I always knew you were poor,
but I never imagined anything like this.

- Oh, really?
- Would you mind if I looked around?

- Would you like to look around the hallway?
- I've always wanted an empty room of my own.

Ours is so cluttered.

We have lots of empty rooms.
Would you like to see another one?


Oh, how sad.

All you've got left is your piano.

- I learned the pianoforte as I child, but...
- Oh, yes?

...I can never practise.
- No.

Cousin Morris will not a permit
an instrument in the house.

He says the vibrations
might shatter his eggs.

Yes, of course.

I think you'll find the
piano's rather out of tune.

Oh, I'm sure not.

My repertoire is somewhat
limited, I'm afraid.

I think I hear my grandfather calling me.

No, I don't think so.

I'm terribly sorry.
It must be cousin Morris calling you.

Yes, that must be it.

In either case, it's one or the other.

And I think we ought see which one of them
wants to see which one of us.

- Goodbye.
- Oh!


Forgive me!

What to do, Peacock?
What to do? That's the question.

If I may be allowed to say, sir.

Anything, Peacock, anything.

I have heard that there are, in certain
sectors of this great city, men...

...unscrupulous men, sir,

who, for a price,
will perform the most unsavoury tasks.

Dr Pratt?

Rouse yourself, Dr Pratt.

I assure you, the lady was already dead,
when I arrived, Constable.

- Dr Pratt.
- Come in. Hm?

I was here earlier. You asked me to return.


Oh, yes. Yes, yes. I remember.

- I've got what you wanted.
- Thank you, Doctor.

Blackcurrant jelly.
It contains 12 grains of arsenic.

Just spread it on your
mother's bread and butter.

Doctor, I wanted a death certificate!

Oh, you've done her in already, have you?

- What's this? Is that it?
- Mm? What?

- What's that?
- Oh, yes, this is...

- This is a death certificate.
- Yes.

- I've signed a lot of these in my time.
- Could you sign this one?

Yes, yes, I'll sign this one.

- Give me a hand.
- Up you get, Doctor.

Yes. Yes.

Oh, yes. Before I sign this,

I must do my ablutions according to the
sterile principles laid down by Lord Lister:

"Cleanliness in all things,
even the humblest of tasks."

Oh, that's better.

Now, then.

Oh, look at that. Look at that!
Scarcely human.

- I'll have to see a vet about it.
- Doctor...

- Come in.
- Come on!

Keep taking the pills. You'll be all right.

- Are you all right, Doctor?
- Yes, I'm all right. It's just a fur ball.

It's nothing.

Strange. I haven't had fur for a fortnight.

Now, let's see...

Now... Yes. Er... That's it.

There they are.

- Doctor...
- Mm?

Oh, you want it signed in two places? Yes.



- P, Doctor. P.
- Oh, yes.

- P.
- R.

- R...



"Pratt MD". Is that your name, as well?

Oh, I've gone and blotted it, now.
It's a small world.

You'd never think that there were
two Pratts in one room, would you?

There we are.

- Thank you, Doctor. Good night.
- Yes. Come in.

Of course, you know...

...I was not always as you see me now.

Was I, Mervin, eh?

Oh, no, you are too young to remember.

Stay away, lad. It's not good for you.


Are you mad?

A scream like that
might have shattered my eggs.

Oh, but I was dreaming I was an egg, Morris,
and that an eagle was trying to hatch me.

- Please cover yourself.
- Oh...

What erm...

What news of next door?

Oh, well, very peculiar, Morris.

I took Uncle Masterman some broth

and Michael... Well, he seemed to...

How shall I say it? I...
I think he threw me out.

- Threw you out?
- Yes! What do you think it means, Morris?

Well, it means that erm...

What it means is that erm...

I... don't know what it means.

Morris, am I pretty?

Let me think.

Oh... Never mind.

He's up to something.

It's happened. I know it's happened.

And Michael's trying to cheat us.

Trying to cheat two orphans
out of the tontine.

That must be it!

Peacock? Peacock!

Where is the old fool?

The house is full of fools!

I'm coming, blast you!

I'm coming! I'm coming!
Wait a minute! Wait a minute!

I'm... Oh! Aagh! Oh!

I'll turn the cart round and stand guard.


- Funny.
- Funny, Daddy.

What's all this malarkey
about a piano, then?

Still, he must be the one. Can't be two
in the same house, can there?

Come on, let's get him wrapped up now.

Here, you take his legs,
I'll take his shoulders.

Right, well, thanks for the business, sir.
Good night.

You, there!

- Where are you going with that?
- Er... Chelsea Undertakers, sir.

We have a dead person
what has just deceased.

I see. Well, be about your sacred business.

Thank you, sir.
The compliments of the night to you, sir.

And so, gentlemen, the great tontine
has been won after 63 years

by your uncle erm... Joseph of Finsbury.

Yes, we've telegraphed him in Bournemouth.

He will erm... arrive shortly.

- A most magnificent sum!
- Erm... could we ask... just how magnificent?

Oh, yes. Well,

it's the magnificent total of
£111,000 three shillings and thruppence.

We could continue to administer the fund.

No, no, no, no, no. Erm... my uncle
gave quite explicit instructions.

He wants the entire amount
handed over to him.

- Oh?
- In cash.

- Immediately.
- Oh. That is most unusual.

Oh, well. However...

Well, in that case...

...would it be convenient for you
to return, say, at three o'clock?

Ah! We were thinking
more immediately than that.

Erm... Unless, of course, our new legal
friend could bring it to the house.

Yes, that would suit. You see, this is sure
to prove a trying day for our dear uncle.

Mm! The shock of losing a brother, you see.

Plus the shock of winning the tontine

- might prove too much for his... weak...
- Terribly weak.

- Mm!

That's no good. Here! Give it to me.

Leave it, leave it, leave it! Give it
to me. Now, this time. This time, pull!

- Pull!
- You know what that is?

That is stuck. That is what that is.

Is this the Finsbury residence?

- Who asks?
- Kindly address me as "Major".

- Are you a member of this household?
- The butler, Major.

Does your employer answer to the name
of Masterman Finsbury?

That was the case, Major.

Then he is delivered up
and safely returned.

This poor, misguided man attempted to
take his own immortal life last night.

- We fished him out of the river.
- Mercy!

Yes? Did somebody call?

Later, Mercy. Later! First things first.
Pass him through.

Come along! Come along!

Now, you two, give a hand. Come along!

Get the piano out of the way!
Come on, get moving! Get moving!

- Where is he usually kept?
- First door.

Forward, the Army!

Take him upstairs.

You ought to count yourself lucky
we were on our toes last night.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways

when He is raising money for our cause.

He will have to move very mysteriously... raise any boodle here.

Boodle? What do you mean?

I am not in charge of the finances.

You have to wait till
Master Michael returns.

We can wait.

- Agh, Master Michael! Oh, poor!
- Ha!

Here, that boy!

- Do you want to earn a penny?
- Yeah.

Here, go to St Mary's hospital.

- Ask for Mr Michael Finsbury.
- Michael Finsbury?

Good morning.

May I be of service in your hour of need?

Oh... Oh, yes, I've come
to pay my respects.

Who, may I ask, do you
suffer the sad loss of?

My uncle, Masterman Finsbury.


"Finsbury" as in "Park"?

No, the only soul reposing here

belongs and answers to the name
Wilfred Ebenezer Hackett.

Oh. Well, Uncle was called many names,

but that was never one of them.

- When did your uncle die?
- Late last night.

In that case,
allow me to present you with my card.

Er... Er...

Oh, I appear to have run out.
Business is so brisk these days!

It is quite obvious, my dear young lady, that
you are in need of my entire organisation.

When you leave me at the undertakers',
go back to the house, unpack Uncle

and place him in the hallway,
so that it appears he fell down the stairs.

Why do I always have the packing
and unpacking to do?

You're quite right. I can't trust you with
the simplest task. I'd better handle it.

We haven't got much time.

Here we are. Get out!

Tell the undertakers, a simple coffin.
Nothing expensive!

Now, if you'll excuse me, Miss Finsbury.

Brothers and sisters,
our prayers were for nought.

Hymn 231.

♪ Onward Christian soldiers

♪ Marching as to...

Most unusual.

Most unusual!

I think we'd better pay a call on...


Hm... Yes!

I think we'll pay a call on...

- Michael Finsbury, sir?
- I know, I know!

Michael Finsbury, naturally.

- Bring that down, will you?
- Right, sir.

Mr Patience.

- What means this?
- Our dead uncle.

My cousin should never have broken
the glad news at the top of the stairs.

- Why? What happened?
- Well, the poor old chap...

...broke his noodle.
- I see. You mean it... it proved fatal?

Oh, totally. Excuse me.

Allow me.





Excuse me.



Patience is here with the boodle.
Where is Uncle Joseph?

- I say, she's a bit of all right!
- "Where is Uncle Joseph," indeed, you cretin!

- I sent him to you in a barrel!
- Oh? What's this?

- You realise we're ruined?
- I think I know what's happened.

- There's been a mix-up.
- You imbecile!

Let go of me!

♪ Leads against the foe

♪ Forward into battle

♪ See His banners...

- Oh, help him up!
- Are you all right?

- Are you all right? Get him on his feet.
- Yes.

And that, sir, is that.

The doctor left this death certificate.

One moment!

Pray, what is going on? Hmm?

Ah! Erm... Thank you.

Well, what... what is this?

- What's what?
- Well, today's the 12th. This is dated the 13th.

Well, here today and gone tomorrow.

Surely a mere formality, sir?

You have our words as English gentlemen
that our uncle is... no longer with us.

I wonder... I wonder if you could give us
a few more moments alone with him

- before you remove his mortal remains.
- Of course, sir.

- Please indulge yourself.
- Thank you.

Well, in that case, perhaps it'd be as well if I
returned another day for the transfer of the...

Oh, no, no.

- What must be done... must be done.
- Er... yes.

- We must...
- Curb our natural grief.

- Exactly.
- Yes.

♪ With the cross of Jesus going on before

♪ Onward Christian soldiers

♪ With the cross of Jesus going on before


Brothers and sisters,
our prayers have been answered!

Hymn 224!

♪ All things bright and beautiful

You were too keen to get me buried, sir!
The point is... The point is,

I did not kill my brother Joseph!
I tried to, but I failed.

Grandfather... - Stop your
spluttering and allow me to speak!

The point is, the tontine is ours!

Well, it certainly isn't yours
and it must be returned!

- It must be returned at once!
- You can't!

You can't ask that of two
innocent little orphans!

You couldn't take it back now!
You gave it to us. It's ours!

I put it to you, gentlemen, that Masterman
Finsbury is alive and your uncle dead.

- I have his death certificate!
- It's a mistake! It says he died tomorrow!

- Relinquish that dresser.
- Never!

And please do not touch me!

Ooh! You touched me!

- Er... you may remove the body now.
- Certainly, sir.

Stop them! Stop them! They have the money.

Get this...


Come on!

Stop them!

- Stop them, they've got the tontine!
- Julia!


Stop them! They've got the tontine!
Stop them!

Could you tell me
where I could find Michael Finsbury?

It's Morris Finsbury you want!
He's just made off with £100,000!

- What? Where?
- That way!

In a hearse!

This man was a witness.

Seize him.

It's obvious we are not needed here.

We brought the Gospel,
but they would not listen.

Damn them all!

♪ Triumphant march

Come on. Come on. Hey!

Halt! In the name of the law...

...follow those hearses!
- Stop! Wait for me!

♪ Upbeat march

♪ Solemn funeral march

♪ Solemn funeral march

Giddy-up! Giddy-up!

♪ Upbeat march

♪ Lively trumpet solo

It is, as you know, a statistical fact

that in London one person dies
every 25 seconds,

which means it is extremely probable
that one of us

may not even live to
arrive at the cemetery.

Morris, I think there's
been another mix-up.

- We've got a body instead of the boodle.
- What?

We must go to the cemetery!

Quick. Get the flag. They'll never notice.

I will recall, Mrs Hackett,

that your late husband showed me
another kindness on February 3rd.

- No, February 4th. Another kindness, by...
- And it was kind of him to pass on, wasn't it?

Wasn't it? Gave you a better chance
of the tontine! Hypocrite! You hypocrite!

Don't touch me!

Now, come, Mrs Hackett.
You mustn't spoil this beautiful occasion.

Perfidious! How dare...

What have you done with Mr Hackett?

Look at the size of that coffin!

That's only part of him!
He weighed 15 stone.

And look at that ridiculous flag!

He hated England!

Excuse me, you have our body.
Erm... our Yorkshire terrier.

He would have been 14 tomorrow.

Poor little beggar.

Hey! Get back!

Excuse... Excuse me!

Stop! Thief! Stop! Thief!

Let us remember where we are!

- Aaah!
- Aargh!

- Oh!
Oh, my!


That's him.

Please. May we begin?

Dearly beloved, we are gathered
together in the sight of God

and in the face of this congregation
to join this man and this woman...

No, no - that's not it. Er... Er...

- Aah!
- Ugh!

I must have quiet! I demand the silence
due this solemn occasion!

Uncle Joseph!

- Just where you belong, Jo-jo.
- Oh!

Please! I beg of you, sir!

- Get off him, all of you!
- Ladies! Gentlemen!

I beg of you to conduct
your business elsewhere.

- What do you mean, elsewhere?
- Not you, of course, Mrs Hackett.

Uncle Joseph.

Let us begin...

Man that is born of a woman
hath but a short time to live

and is full of misery.

He cometh up and is cut down like a flower.

He fleeth as it were a shadow

and never continueth in one stay.

In the midst of life, we are in death.

- Of whom may we seek for succour...
- Stop! Stop this funeral.

I demand the money to be returned.
The tontine has yet to be won.

If fate names me the winner,

the entire amount goes to my ward, Julia.

Julia, my darling, I've always loved you.
Be mine tonight.

Better still, be mine.

Let us begin. Man that is born of woman
hath but a short time to live

and is full of misery.

What's going on? What is it? Come on.

Please, sir, I beg of you.
There's a dead man here.

All right, no-one move!

- Finsbury?

- Morris Finsbury?
- Yes.

Morris Finsbury, I arrest you
for stealing £100,000.

- But the money has been returned, sir.
- And who are you, sir?

- Some sort of accomplice?
- Certainly not! I am his solicitor.

You've brought a solicitor
with you, have you?

- I've met your type before.
- No, I'm the administrator of the tontine!

- "Tontine"?
- Named after Lorenzo Tonti,

- a Neapolitan banker.
- And who are you, sir?

- I...
- He's nobody. He's my young brother.

- And who are you, sir?
- None of your business.

I shall have you arrested
for indecent exposure!

My grandfather was recently buried, sir.

And who are you, sir?

He is Michael Finsbury.

And who are you, madam?

She is Julia Finsbury, shortly to become...

...Julia Finsbury.

Young man, did you know
there was a body in the piano?

I did it.

- Who is he?
- He is the butler, sir.

- The butler did it?
- No, sir.

- I put the body there.
- Is this true?

- Yes, sir.
- Then you are entitled to a reward of £1,000.

You are responsible for bringing
the Bournemouth Strangler to his just end.


Oh, but I... I don't deserve it.

- The body just arrived in a barrel.
- I sent it.

- And who are you, sir?
- He is of diminished responsibility, Officer.

It was all my doing. If there's any justice
in this naughty world, the reward is mine.

And who are you?

You remember me. Morris Finsbury.

I was falsely accused of stealing £100,000,

whereas, in fact, it was me and me alone

who was responsible for bringing the
Bournemouth Strangler to his just deserts.