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The Wrong Man
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This film claims to be--and in fact is--a true story (it was based upon a 1952 LIFE magazine article "The True Story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero") and Hitchcock went to great lengths in minimizing the fictionalization of any part of this narrative. The result is quite a serious film. Henry Fonda plays Manny Balestrero, a devoted family man who plays bass at night for local nightclub band. Based on faulty eyewitness identification, he is accused of committing a string of armed hold-ups that have been plaguing his neighborhood.
Now, in the usual Hitchcock film, the hero of the story would go on the lam, meet up with a beautiful blonde, and set about solving the mystery and clearing his own name. That does not happen here. We follow Balestrero through the tedious but very real process of being accused, processed, and jailed while his wife Rose (Vera Miles) slowly suffers a complete mental breakdown. So serious is this film, in fact, that Hitchcock forgoes his usual cameo role and instead appears during a prologue to the film explaining the film's basis in fact.
THE WRONG MAN has a documentary feel to it reflecting the considerable efforts by Hitchcock to be true to the real story. In many cases, in fact, the picture was filmed in the actual locations where the true to life events took place, including The Stork Club in Manhattan, the police precinct house in Queens, and the actual insurance office where one of the original armed robberies took place.Read more ›
I would consider this film a great tragedy.
Fonda just blew me away with his portrayal of Manny Balestrero, a New York City club musician wrongfully accused of armed robbery. His pithy and grounded performance really gave this film a realistic and poignant feel. You feel a sympathy towards his character as he is churned through the justice system, gutted out physically and emotionally, and ultimately ends up in jail.
Vera Miles' portrayal of his wife Rose was a departure from what Hitchcock fans would expect...this is NOT the goody-goody gutsy sister of Janet Leigh in "Psycho". Vera Miles performance is startling. We see her character descend into mental instability as she places the blame of Manny's incarceration on herself.
The cinematography, of course, is excellent. Here is where Hitchcock makes his signature on an otherwise laid-out story. The backdrop of NYC lends its own gritty feel. All in all, this is a wonderfully rich film. It is an excellent contrast to Hitchcock's more sophisticated, glossy films like Vertigo and Rear Window, and the acting is simply superb.
A must for any Hitchcock fan.
"The Wrong Man"'s primary objective is to give the impression of a loss of control. The most disturbing aspect of Manny's predicament is that he is at the mercy of an impersonal system that doesn't know or care about him and from which he cannot escape. Manny is an easy-going guy who is bewildered by the unjust turn of events but always optimistic. His wife Rose is less naïve and more proactive at first, but more emotionally fragile, ultimately tormented by feelings of guilt and persecution. Manny's helplessness and distress are expressed graphically in his scenes of confinement in the jail. Alfred Hitchcock excels at communicating the horror of being caged, though I could have done without the camera moving in circles. That conveyed a feeling of nausea more than confinement. "The Wrong Man" has some nice scenes of New York City circa 1956, including some filmed inside the Stork Club.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well constructed story worth watching in its own right. Also, essential viewing (1) for all judges in the criminal justice system and (2) last, but far from least, to see where... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
I had a so-so opinion about Henry Fonda before I saw "The Wrong Man". The character he plays in this film is accused and then arrested for a crime he did not commit. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anthony N Williams
Compared with Alfred Hitchcock's more well-known movies, THE WRONG MAN is comparatively low-key in tone, with few of the visual flourishes characteristic of his directorial style. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dr. Laurence Raw
Excellent movie. A true story showing shows how easy it can be to have one's life ruined by mistaken identity. They say everyone has a double. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dave Murphy
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