Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero - Manny to his friends - is a string bassist, a devoted husband and father, and a practicing Catholic. His $85 a week gig playing in the jazz combo at the Stork Club is barely enough to make ends meet. The Balestreros' lives will become a little more difficult with the major dental bills his wife Rose will be incurring. As such, Manny decides to see if he can borrow off of Rose's life insurance policy. But when he enters the insurance office, he is identified by some of the clerks as the man that held up the office twice a few months earlier. Manny cooperates with the police as he has nothing to hide. Manny learns that he is a suspect in not only those hold ups, but a series of other hold ups in the same Jackson Heights neighborhood in New York City where they live. The more that Manny cooperates, the more guilty he appears to the police. With the help of Frank O'Connor, the attorney that they hire, they try to prove Manny's innocence. Regardless of if ... Written by
Alfred Hitchcock filmed one of his usual cameos, standing in a restaurant as Manny sits, but decided on using a narrated prologue instead. See more »
Twice when Manny enters the house we are presumed to believe that he has left the door open. The first time he enters he makes a slight closing motion but nothing happens and the second time a door is heard closing, yet because of the camera position it is presumed that it couldn't be possible to close the door. See more »
This is Alfred Hitchcock speaking. In the past, I have given you many kinds of suspense pictures. But this time, I would like you to see a different one. The difference lies in the fact that this is a true story, every word of it. And yet it contains elements that are stranger than all the fiction that has gone into many of the thrillers that I've made before.
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Disquieting, a steely Fonda, and amazing Hitchcock. But it might make you edgy.
The Wrong Man (1956)
There's no question Alfred Hitchcock has pulled off something amazing here, a kind of experiment. Entirely based on true events, and without any sense of chase, romance, or high intrigue, and without special effects or even witty dialog, he makes you feel for the main character, Henry Fonda, a man accused of a crime he did not commit.
It's often pointed out that Hitchcock had an enormous fear of the police, and of being accused when innocent. This shows up in many of his films, but never more clearly or more painfully than here. To watch is an adventure in frustration, almost to the point you have to turn it off. But of course, you can't just get up and leave. You have to know what happens.
And the turns of events are so reasonable and yet so unbearable, you just want to get up there and say, do this, do that! It's weird to say, this is not an enjoyable movie. But it's a very good one, maybe flawless in its attempt to trap you as much as the main character was trapped. The surrounding cast is terribly believable, the cops, the wife, the kids. And it unfolds with such dramatic relentlessness. The camera angles (thanks to Robert Burks) are psychologically intense (and edited for discomfort). And the music (Bernard Herrmann, soon to score Psycho) only adds more tension.
Beautifully. As an exercise in precision, and in sticking to the facts, this is as good as a dramatic (non-documentary) film can get. Wikipedia has a small amount of helpful information, and tcm.com has a lot (click on articles or reviews on the left for a range of texts). But of course, watch it straight. See some period New York City scenes (from streets to jails to what looks like the amazing 57th St. bridge at dusk). A wonderful, if not uplifting, movie.
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