powered by AFI
The film opens with the following written prologue: "In the tangled networks of a great city, the telephone is the unseen link between a million lives...It is the servant of our common needs-the confidante of our inmost secrets...life and happiness wait upon its ring...and horror...and loneliness...and...death!!!" The 1943 radio play on which the film was based starred Agnes Moorehead as "Leona." The show was so popular that it was re-broadcast every year for ten years, and in 1947, Hal Wallis commissioned author Lucille Fletcher to expand her radio play into a full-length screenplay. According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, the original story was titled "Murder on the Telephone." Fletcher published a novelization of her radio play and screenplay in 1948, co-authored by Allan Ullman.
According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the script was initially rejected by the PCA because of its focus on illegal drug traffic. Reacting to an early draft of the script, a March 12, 1947 PCA memo also commented that "the present ending of the story indicates a criminal, the husband, going off scot free [and] an unacceptable scene in which a doctor urges divorce as a cure for a wife's hysteria. This we could not approve...." By January 1948, the PCA was still hesitant about approving the script despite several deletions with regard to drugs such as opium, stating "...it is almost impossible to treat the illegal dope traffic and not stimulate curiosity. We finally suggested in one last effort to get away from the illegal drug traffic that Stevenson and Evans would be engaged in the following activities: They would divert products of all kinds from the Cotterell Drug Co. to Morano, a fence, who would dispose of this stolen material, not in any sense in a drug traffic or drug enterprise...." This alteration to the story prompted the PCA to approve the final script.
Barbara Stanwyck was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for this film. According to a Paramount News news item, the opening scene of a telephone switchboard was shot on location at a telephone company office on Gower St. in Hollywood, CA. Although actor John Bromfield worked on the film Harpoon in 1947, that film was not released until October 1948. Consequently, Sorry, Wrong Number marks his motion picture debut. On January 9, 1950, Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster reprised their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the play. In November 1954, NBC-TV broadcast a television version of Sorry, Wrong Number, starring Shelley Winters on the Chrysler Climax series.