Plot -In 1953, an innocent man named Christopher Emmanuel “Manny” Balestrero is arrested after being mistaken for an armed robber – The Wrong Man.
Director – Alfred Hitchcock
Released – 1956
Of the many films that Hitchcock made using this trope, it should come as no surprise that The Wrong Man is one of the most entertaining and timeless. This is why I find it so surprising that more people don’t consider this one of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces?.
True, he does seem to tone down his style slightly in favour of making a more straightforward story, which at its core is a tale about a man falsely accused of multiple armed robberies and sure, the film doesn’t have the same level of tension and risk seen in other crime thrillers like Strangers on a Train or Psycho. But to me it shows him returning to his experimental roots and in the process making the film feel more believable, thus making the film downright scary at times.
Fonda was the perfect choice of lead considering the material that’s based on a true story. The skill he employs helps keep you guessing about his guilt right to the very end. Has he been hiding this double life from his friends and family, or is this a terrible case of mistaken identity that will cost a good man his freedom?.
Fonda when coupled with Hitchcock a level of recognisable terror I’m sure everyone would find scary. With Vera Miles is equally compelling as his worried wife, who finds the whole ordeal entirely too much and becomes closed off to the world and institutionalised. An element I was certainly not expecting but adds to the authenticity of the story, it’s easy to see why Hitchcock wanted her as his lead in Vertigo.
Although not one of the big-budgeted or flashy ones, I would still rank The Wrong Man among my top five Hitchcock’s movies. This is a genuinely frightening and underappreciated movie in which the incredibly powerful story lives long in the memory, purely because of how realistic it remains.
If you liked: Murder! Spellbound, The 39 Steps.