THE WRONG MAN

(1957)
With Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle, Harold J. Stone, Charles Cooper
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Black and White
Reviewed by JL and JB

Baby Henry quickly outgrew his bassinette     Certain elements of several Hitchcock films (FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, ROPE, PSYCHO, et al) were based on true incidents, but THE WRONG MAN was more than just "based" on truth: its sad and powerful tale of a wrongly convicted man (Henry Fonda) was completely faithful to the real-life events, to the extent that Hitchcock took no dramatic license even when it might have heightened the drama.  There were few of Hitchcock's creative visuals here; instead, the director's goal was documentary-like realism, achieved in part by filming in the actual New York locations where the events took place.  The film was both suspenseful and touching, a combination that succeeded largely because of Fonda's superb performance.  Made during Hitchcock's most fertile period, it was perhaps the best of his experimental films. - JL


      The premise is pure Hitchcock: an average guy is accused of a crime he didn't commit.  Usually, Hitchcock will then allow such a character to run all over the world to find the real killer, but since THE WRONG MAN is so solidly based on a true story, Hitch concentrates on the legal process, which turns out to be even more of a nightmare than any of the usual wild scenarios Hitch cooks up for his films.  THE WRONG MAN  was obviously something of a pet project for Hitchcock, and it was a box-office disappointment.  It's not really an entertaining film - nobody hanging off Lincoln's nose on Mount Rushmore, no treks to exotic locales - but it is a minor masterpiece, and features a beautifully understated yet emotional performance by Henry Fonda in his only film with The Master. - JB

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