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Shocking and infuriating story better told by Hitchcock before.
Alfred Hitchcock's courtroom drama The Wrong Man (1956) is only an average movie among Hitchcock's immense filmography. The idea of the mistaken identity case is better handled by Hitchcock himself just 3 years prior to The Wrong Man in his brilliant film I Confess. Hitchcock directs with the occasional cool visual of a distressed character in a close-up, but many of his wide and medium shots are so bland in The Wrong Man. I Confess had more style and heart. Here, Hitchcock is trying to present this shocking true story realistically, but the virtues of an actual account are not interesting by themselves. There are even some seriously poor choices like the revolving camera shot trying to show Fonda's mind spinning in circles once he's in prison, but it looks so dated.
Bernard Herrmann's score is exciting and beautiful at times, but Hitchcock barely uses. Most of The Wrong Man is cascaded in ultra serious silence to try and make the narrative more mature. I think this was a waste of lovely compositions from Herrmann. The Wrong Man should have utilized a genius composer like Bernard Herrmann much more frequently to keep audiences engaged. The Wrong Man is only 105 minutes, but it feels much longer due to the lack of music and momentum from the lethargic editing from George Tomasini's infrequent cuts. He lingers far too long on many insignificant shots. Robert Burks' cinematography starts out interesting and loses interest as dull flat shots of room and people feel thoughtless compared to his previous work on the far superior I Confess.
Henry Fonda is an iconic actor for good reason. He is superb at finding the heart and empathy for a character in 12 Angry Men or creating depravity with his villain in Once Upon a Time in the West. However, Fonda is oddly wooden in The Wrong Man, which is strange as it's such an emotional role. He chooses shocked and subdued instead of indignant, outraged, or frightened. The result being an uninteresting performance in an average Hitchcock movie.
Vera Miles gives the best performance as Fonda's distraught wife. Her slow fall into insanity and misery is fascinating and very realistic. She plays it so well with subtle nuance and plenty of care. It's her dead eyes that are so startling in The Wrong Man which is shocking because she's so alive in the beginning. I just wish Hitchcock had used Vera Miles more for The Wrong Man as she's barely in any of the movie!
Anthony Quayle is really good as Fonda's righteous lawyer, but he gets lost in a sea of forgettable supporting characters. I could not tell you the name of any other character or actor in the movie. The Wrong Man's success depends upon Fonda and Miles' acting and that's about it. In all, Hitchcock did this same style of story better before within I Confess. Watch that instead.
Scary Look at How Police Framed People, Particularly minorities in the 1950s
Modern police techniques were already known to police departments by this time. You should not question witnesses in the way seen here, and to rely on testimony from people with other substantiation was frowned upon. Here we have the police breaking their own rules, a common occurrence, to convict a Hispanic man and cause havoc throughout his extended family. The police do everything wrong, in terms of justice and the law, but they can get away with it. Watching their schemes to wrongfully convict Fonda turns your stomach, but this kind of police action did occur and is still occurring. The sheriff of my county routinely arrested American citizens of Mexican descent and wrongfully accused them of any and every crime he could imagine. They only got him for racial profiling, although several deaths lay in his wake. Injustice is very hard to watch, but it IS reality, and we must remain vigilant so that it becomes a thing of the past.
Gripping and tragic. since Fate strikes down the strong man, everyone weep with me.
The best thrilling movie ever made!
Fan of Hitchcock and a fan of Fonda, but for me, this might be the most overrated film in Hitchcock's oeuvre. I felt no investment in any of the characters, including Fonda's, who spent the entirety of the film with a look of incredulity on his face and no believable character arc. Cinematography was substandard for a Hitchcock film of this era. Pacing was dreadful. Perhaps worst of all, it strains the limits of willing suspension of disbelief despite being based on a 'true' story.
Hitchcock changes his usual style to make this incredibly hard hitting and true to life depiction of how wrongful accusations destroy your life. Made with Hitchcock's genius skill but also with historical accuracy of highest standards in this real life story. Fonda is perfect as the innocent man hit with injustice.
The first 45 minutes of The Wrong Man really stressed me out. I kept putting myself in the shoes of the protagonist and wondering what I would do. After that, however, I felt like this movie lost its way, and started to wander before finally reaching the conclusion. It's a good film, but it's not one of Hitchcock's greats.
Hitchock's first true-story film isn't always narratively even, but it's made up for with realistic dialogue, a solid cast, and meaningful direction.
One of Hitch's more underrated films.
Alfred Hitchcock directed 1950s film noir thriller based on actual events rather than the escapism thrillers so often associated with Hitchcock.
The film is one of his last shot in black and white and uses actual New York City location photography.
The screenplay concerns a jazz musician Manny Balestero (Henry Fonda) wrongly accused of holding up an insurance office.
The film is almost like a documentary due to its true events.
Fonda plays Balestero with a bewildered look throughout. I mean his world is literally falling down around him. A musician, happily married with two young sons..
The procedure of Balestero's ridiculous arrest at the police station, indictment and trial are excellently conveyed by Hitchcock.
The best acting in the film probably goes to Vera Miles as Balestero's psychologically effected wife Rose who actually suffers a breakdown and ends up being treated for two years in a mental institution.
Hitchcock conveys the indignity and shock of the whole process. The black and white images probably adding to the gloom.
Little known and underrated Hitchcock film if I am being honest. I found it as entertaining as his more well known thrillers I have watched.
The cameo that Hitchcock usually makes in his films is sensibly omitted as the great director delivers a prologue at the beginning explaining the outline of the true life events.