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: narrating the film's prologue. This was the only time that he actually spoke in any of his films. See more »
When Manny enters prison, a prisoner shouts "What'd they get you for, Henry?", using the actor's name, Henry Fonda. 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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This is a terrific, dark, taut thriller from Hitchcock, based on a true story. Not his usual ostentatious style, but it plays on the theme of a wrong man caught up in extraordinary events beyond his control (REAR WINDOW, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, PSYCHO).
It may be Hitchcock's most cynical film. Henry Fonda plays a man falsely accused of armed robbery. He is a quiet man, whose life gets turned upside down as a result.
Hitchcock spares us nothing of the horror of the predicament of Fonda's situation. He shows many of the details of how Fonda is accused, arrested, and tried in real time, so we are as fully worn down as the protagonist.
The plot was quite unbelievable by 1950s standards that Hitch needed all the realism he could muster. For example, Hitchcock himself introduces the film in a prologue, to verify that it is indeed based on a true story. Also, don't look for his trademark cameo - he did shoot a scene where he was a customer in a store, but that scene ended up getting cut. Hitchcock personally interviewed all of the participants in the real live drama. And the doctor at the sanitarium is played not by an actor, but by a real doctor.
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