Sergio Leone Web Board

Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: cigar joe on April 18, 2012, 06:46:44 PM



Title: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: cigar joe on April 18, 2012, 06:46:44 PM
Director: Alfred Hitchcock, starring Stars: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles and Anthony Quayle.

(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/TWM01.jpg)

Storyline from IMDb

True story of New Yorker Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero (Fonda)- Manny to his friends - who 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 (Miles) 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 (Quayle), the attorney that they hire, they try to prove Manny's innocence. Regardless of if they manage to prove Manny's innocence or find the actual hold-up man, the situation may cause irreparable damage on the Balestreros.

Fonda as Christopher Balestrero
(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/TWM02.jpg)

Hitchcock slowly builds the helplessness and desperation of Fonda as he is accused of crimes he did not commit showing us his apprehension as he is picked up by the police and questioned, the booking procedure, and his incarceration all from his point of view. We get nice period shots of the Stork Club and its actual owner Sherman Billingsley, the 5th Ave Subway Station, Jackson Heights, Queens, One Court House Square, Long Island City (a location used in OUTITW), Cornwall, New York, and the Queensboro Bridge.

(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/TWM04.jpg)

Miles as Rose

(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/TWM03.jpg)

The helplessness is compounded with despair when Fonda and Miles on a mission to clear Fonda discover that two of the witnesses that can place Fonda in a card game at an upstate NY resort have died. Adding to his problems Miles has a nervous breakdown. One of these sequences is used in one of TCM's bumpers: screen cap below

(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/TWM05.jpg)

The film depicts that neo-realistic phase of Film Noir with a compelling true story, one of Hitchcock's bleakest movies. 7/10


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 18, 2012, 07:43:14 PM
I discussed this a while ago and had the impression that Stone tried to frame Fonda during the 3d degree. What do you think?

Anywy, 7\10 is a rather low rating. You should explain what's wrong with it.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: cigar joe on April 18, 2012, 08:08:28 PM
I discussed this a while ago and had the impression that Stone tried to frame Fonda during the 3d degree. What do you think?

Anywy, 7\10 is a rather low rating. You should explain what's wrong with it.

You mean with having him write the note twice, yea a bit over zealous.  I gave it a 7/10 for personal reasons, 1.) it was a depressing story, 2.) not much action at all, 3.) no real babe. Its not a film I'll re-watch soon so I gave it a 7.

But I guess you couldn't do much following a true story, it reminded me of Call Northside 777 and compared to it Northside was better an 8.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 18, 2012, 08:50:41 PM
You mean with having him write the note twice, yea a bit over zealous.  

And Stone (and Hitchcock) don't show the supposed original: and that makes no sense unless Stone needs two samples to frame Fonda, having so at his disposal the "original" and the Fonda's dictate. I think H. deliberately did it to make the viewer get a hint without openly accusing the police. 

Anyway, I saw this 3-4 times and always found it excellent and our friend Groggy seems to agree with me. :o. Northside 777, on the contrary, is very weak and melodramatic.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: Groggy on April 18, 2012, 08:53:43 PM
None of CJ's complaints are what I'd consider a flaw.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 18, 2012, 09:09:17 PM
None of CJ's complaints are what I'd consider a flaw.

In fact he specifies they're personal.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 18, 2012, 11:51:55 PM
yeah, I mean "no real babe" is not a negative if the story doesn't call for it. Many of Leone's movie have no real babe either, and it's for the best.

Vera Miles is a very pretty woman, but in this movie she is playing a poor housewife with children who is worried over a falsely accused husband and having a nervous breakdown; not exactly the sort of role that calls for her looking particularly glamorous. Having a "babe" in this movie would be wrong, and I agree with rating a movie low cuz of no real babe about as much as I agree with rating a movie high just cuz u see Ronda Fleming in various states of undress.

This movie is an 8/10.

So yeah, cj indeed has some very personal reasons  ;)



Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: cigar joe on April 19, 2012, 04:16:19 AM
yeah, I mean "no real babe" is not a negative if the story doesn't call for it. Many of Leone's movie have no real babe either, and it's for the best.

Vera Miles is a very pretty woman, but in this movie she is playing a poor housewife with children who is worried over a flasely accused husband and having a nervous breakdown; not exactly the sort of role that calls for her looking particularly glamorous. Having a "babe" in this movie would be wrong, and I agree with rating a movie low cuz of no real babe about as much as I agree with rating a movie high just cuz u see Ronda Fleming in various states of undress.

This movie is an 8/10.

So yeah, cj indeed has some very personal reasons  ;)






It all depends I guess on what strikes my fancy at the time I review it initially. Take Noirs for instance if what I'm craving at the time is neo realistic visuals of late 40's-1950's urban decay that I have a personal connection with I'll rate that film generously based on those. If a film doesn't have very good visuals comparatively but a great story, great acting, and a babe, well those may or may not trump my visual requirements. Over time as I get more and more Noirs under my belt I adjust my initial ratings as I can compare one against another.  

for example:

I initially rated Call NOrthside 777 as a 10/10 great story, great acting, great visuals, and a bittersweet ending. I've since compared it to more and more Noirs and have dropped it a couple of notches on the Noir scale to an 8/10. (I don't like the police procedural Noirs as much as other types)

I'm rating The Wrong Man as a 7/10 initially, even though it has visuals of a subway and a route I used to ride all the time and a neighborhood I'm very familiar with Astoria/Jackson Heights where I grew up, and even upstate location I'm also very familiar with. Fonda is great, and Miles is adequate, I don't quite buy British actor Quayle as the NY lawyer, I'd seen him in too many parts where he's playing a British subject, so for me anyway that "cinematic memory" in this instance is a hinderance to the story.

now our drinksanddestroy may lower this even more or turn it off altogether after 20 minutes because it moves at a snails pace, pace is one of his criteria for a rating.

A babe is always worth a +1, and Gloria maybe even .5 more, lol, but that is just me

Now for say The Big Heat It has great acting, great actors, great story, cinematic memory, barely any visuals and a babe too boot Gloria Grahame, In this case the visuals are trumped by everything else so still a 10/10
 


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 19, 2012, 10:09:45 AM
well of course we all have our own "personal" reasons for giving a movie a certain rating. But I wouldn't include in that something so personal like rating a movie high because I get a kick out of seeing my subway station!

The famous train-car chase in The French Connection is filmed by the elevated train near my house that I take all the time. Sure, I got a kick out of that. But it didn't increase my rating of the movie


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: cigar joe on April 19, 2012, 05:26:48 PM
well of course we all have our own "personal" reasons for giving a movie a certain rating. But I wouldn't include in that something so personal like rating a movie high because I get a kick out of seeing my subway station!

The famous train-car chase in The French Connection is filmed by the elevated train near my house that I take all the time. Sure, I got a kick out of that. But it didn't increase my rating of the movie

Well, that is you, so its all relative to our tastes  ;)


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 22, 2012, 08:21:21 PM
And Stone (and Hitchcock) don't show the supposed original: and that makes no sense unless Stone needs two samples to frame Fonda, having so at his disposal the "original" and the Fonda's dictate. I think H. deliberately did it to make the viewer get a hint without openly accusing the police. 

Another explanation is possible. The police notice the mistake Fonda makes the first time, and they give him a "do-over" to see if he makes it again. He does, so they think they've got their man. It is possible to ascribe incompetence rather than venality to the police in this case.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2012, 09:27:33 PM
Yeah I didn't think the cops were trying to frame Fonda here.

Fonda has the terrible luck of being falsely accused and therefore made to go through "the system." But (as I recall it), the individual police involved all acted reasonably fairly in following the system -- not saying The System isn't screwed up, but I don't think the cops here were trying to screw Fonda.

I just wish they had gotten a better look-alike for Fonda. The criminal looks nothing like Fonda, except having a head that is roughly the same shape/size


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 22, 2012, 09:44:33 PM
Yeah I didn't think the cops were trying to frame Fonda here.

Fonda has the terrible luck of being falsely accused and therefore made to go through "the system." But (as I recall it), the individual police involved all acted reasonably fairly in following the system -- not saying The System isn't screwed up, but I don't think the cops here were trying to screw Fonda.
It's pre-Miranda, so a lot of the protections to prevent self-incrimination were not yet in place. The cops may have just been doing their jobs, but in the easiest ways possible.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2012, 09:59:07 PM
It's pre-Miranda, so a lot of the protections to prevent self-incrimination were not yet in place. The cops may have just been doing their jobs, but in the easiest ways possible.

Is asking Fonda to provide a handwriting sample really an indication of trying to frame him? I think it's pretty standard procedure. I see no reason to believe that the cops were in any way trying to frame or be unfair to Fonda.
I think Fonda is supposed to be a victim of A) the real crook; B) chance; and C) The System. In whatever order you prefer.



BTW, did it bother anyone that the movie so clearly presents Fonda as being the wrong man, that there is never any doubt whatsoever about the truth? should it have left something of a doubt to make the ending somewhat in question?


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 22, 2012, 10:20:00 PM
Is asking Fonda to provide a handwriting sample really an indication of trying to frame him?
I thought you were a lawyer. Don't you understand that issues of self-incrimination operate regardless of the motives of the police? If he'd had an attorney at his side, there's no way Fonda would have been allowed to provide that handwriting sample at that time and under those conditions. The lawyer would have arranged matters so that Fonda could provide the sample without incriminating himself.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 22, 2012, 11:03:51 PM
 Why H. never shoots the supposed sample from behind Stone's back? That is very unnatural, cinematographically speaking.
So how we are made sure that Stone doesn't make use of Fonda's second sample as the supposed original?


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2012, 11:34:43 PM
I thought you were a lawyer. Don't you understand that issues of self-incrimination operate regardless of the motives of the police? If he'd had an attorney at his side, there's no way Fonda would have been allowed to provide that handwriting sample at that time and under those conditions. The lawyer would have arranged matters so that Fonda could provide the sample without incriminating himself.

I wasn't referring to shoddy police work; i was referring to attempts to actually frame Fonda. But even post-Miranda, something like 85% of those who are arrested and advised of their rights, waive their rights nonethless and speak with police. It is a terribly stupid thing for anyone to ever do. But most people don't know all about this, so they voluntarily waive their Miranda rights even today.
People also, equally foolishly, often waive their right to an attorney.
And this is all after all those inroads on criminal procedure made by the Warren Court (constitutional or otherwise, they are a fact of life today). So the fact is that if people do all these dumb self-incriminating stuff that they don't have to do even today, how much more so was it plausible that defendants were doing this stuff in the 50's when then there were much less requirements as to what rights they had to be made aware of.

So yeah, Fonda would have been better off with a lawyer from the first moment. But people often don't do that even when read their rights; and this was before the reading of the rights.

Furthermore, even in the post-Miranda days, they only have to read the rights to someone who is being placed under arrest , not just anyone being questioned by police. During all these things that Fonda was doing (eg. handwriting, being shown off to the women at the insurance company, etc.) he was never under arrest, and everything he did was voluntary. The definition may seem absurd (eg. was he really feel comfortable  telling the cops, "I don't wanna answer." ?) But he was happy to cooperate cuz he knew he was innocent, so in hid mind, he woulda been happy to rescind the Miranda protections, even if they had been in place during that time.

Again, overall I think the cops acted pretty much reasonably, insofar as the system they are operating under requires


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 22, 2012, 11:55:26 PM
I wasn't referring to shoddy police work; i was referring to attempts to actually frame Fonda.
I never said they were trying to frame him, that's titoli's line.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 23, 2012, 01:30:20 AM
I never said they were trying to frame him, that's titoli's line.

Nobody here is explaining though what all this calligraphy shenanigan is leading to: it should be a proof of Fonda's innocence if it were something made to rules, shouldn't it? Still we don't know what is made of it and why the comparison of the (supposedly) two handwriting isn't made, not even by the director putting the camera behind Stone's shoulder framing the (supposedly) two samples side by side. I am curious about what the original story made of the whole incident.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 23, 2012, 01:33:07 AM
Nobody here is explaining though what all this calligraphy shenanigan is leading to: it should be a proof of Fonda's innocence if it were something made to rules, shouldn't it? Still we don't know what is made of it and why the comparison of the (supposedly) two handwriting isn't made, not even by the director putting the camera behind Stone's shoulder framing the (supposedly) two samples side by side. I am curious about what the original story made of the whole incident.

who knows how much of what we see in the movie is actually from the original story.

Anyway, why do you feel compelled to say this is anything but a standard handwriting comparison which is done all the time with criminal defendants?


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 23, 2012, 02:00:18 AM
Anyway, why do you feel compelled to say this is anything but a standard handwriting comparison which is done all the time with criminal defendants?

Because H. makes much of it but we are kept in the dark as to its result which should make Fonda's innocence clear form the start. I can't understand how you and jenkins cannot see what it is very clear: or this comparison is made on the level, and then Fonda is proven innocent; or it isn't: and then you explain also why Fonda is made to write again what it shouldn't be needed a second time.  Why we are not informed about the result of the presumed "comparison"? Of course because if we were told that the comparison proves Fonda guilty, then you would have to explain how can he be innocent. That scene can have its end only if the police's behaviour is criminal: there's no way out of there. But of course Hitchcock cannot be explicit about it and leaves to the viewer to deduct what has happened.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: cigar joe on April 23, 2012, 04:00:29 AM
Because H. makes much of it but we are kept in the dark as to its result which should make Fonda's innocence clear form the start. I can't understand how you and jenkins cannot see what it is very clear: or this comparison is made on the level, and then Fonda is proven innocent; or it isn't: and then you explain also why Fonda is made to write again what it shouldn't be needed a second time.  Why we are not informed about the result of the presumed "comparison"? Of course because if we were told that the comparison proves Fonda guilty, then you would have to explain how can he be innocent. That scene can have its end only if the police's behaviour is criminal: there's no way out of there. But of course Hitchcock cannot be explicit about it and leaves to the viewer to deduct what has happened.

Yea H & the film give the impression that the two policemen are handwriting experts that can immediately spot that the note & Fonda's copy are identical. But we know that they can't possibly be identical since we follow Fonda's every move, what would be the percentage of those odds. I agree it would behoove us to investigate the real case and get the facts.

The story was based on the book The True Story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero by Maxwell Anderson.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: Groggy on April 23, 2012, 04:25:47 AM
Yeah I didn't think the cops were trying to frame Fonda here.

Fonda has the terrible luck of being falsely accused and therefore made to go through "the system." But (as I recall it), the individual police involved all acted reasonably fairly in following the system -- not saying The System isn't screwed up, but I don't think the cops here were trying to screw Fonda.

I thought this the first time around but after a rewatch I'm inclined to think otherwise. I don't believe they were deliberately malicious but as Jenkins say they aren't especially thorough or competent in their investigation. They certainly come off as jerks more interested in getting done with their job than doing it well.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 23, 2012, 10:01:31 AM
Yea H & the film give the impression that the two policemen are handwriting experts that can immediately spot that the note & Fonda's copy are identical.

The impression I had  from the first watching that scene is that the behaviour of the cops is murky. But if your impression is right, then the case is all the more explainable along my lines.   



Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 23, 2012, 10:04:20 AM
I thought this the first time around but after a rewatch I'm inclined to think otherwise. I don't believe they were deliberately malicious but as Jenkins say they aren't especially thorough or competent in their investigation. They certainly come off as jerks more interested in getting done with their job than doing it well.

Still that doesn't explain the handwriting scene.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 23, 2012, 10:38:06 AM
it's also important to remember that we are watching the movie from Fonda's point of view. We all know all along that he is innocent -- heck, it's Henry Fonda, and it's even in the title, and we see him as a good family man etc. We all know with 100% certainty that he is innocent. Therefore, whatever is done to him seems excessive. If the movie was made from a neutral point of view, we may have a different opinion of him.

It's an ugly system to be involved in, that's for sure. (This is true even today, after Miranda and the liberalization of criminal rights following Miranda; it was probably much more so in the 50's, when the cops could pretty much do whatever they wanted to).

I saw the movie once, about a year ago, but as I recall it, the cops were looking to match Fonda's handwriting; the cop then says he wants to give him another chance just to be fair with him. Fonda makes the same mistake as the crook -- he writes "DRAW" instead of "DRAWER" -- did he only make that mistake once, or did he do so both times?

Otherwise, he goes through what seems fairly typical -- goes to court to make a plea, gets released on bail, has to make some more appearances with his lawyer to schedule a trial, etc. This is the sort of thing that is pretty typical of what a criminal defendant will go through. It's certainly a horrible thing to go through, especially for one who is innocent; but I think it's pretty typical.

If someone who has the dvd can upload the video of the handwriting scene to YouTube and provide a link so that I (and I am sure others here) can watch it again, maybe I'll change my opinion. I should really withhold judgment till I see it again, but I am not gonna rent the dvd again just so that I can watch that scene. So I'd appreciate if someone can upload that scene.

Also, if it is indeed true that the cops are out to get Fonda and being unfair with him, it doesn't make sense that that  would only be in one matter (the handwriting scene)? If the point is that they are being unfair with him -- ie. treating him worse than a criminal suspect should expect to be treated --  does it make sense that it would only be in one instance?


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 23, 2012, 11:05:29 AM
 But there's no need to watch it because the point is: the test should solve the question, as I doubt that Fonda has the same handwriting as the real culprit.  Otherwise it is useless: so why the cops bother to do it at all? And why it isn't mentioned anymore during the rest of the movie letting us presume  Fonda failed it? The only possible explanation is the one I gave, there's no getting round to it. The strange behaviour of the cops during the test only confirms what I say.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 23, 2012, 01:37:39 PM
I saw the movie once, about a year ago, but as I recall it, the cops were looking to match Fonda's handwriting; the cop then says he wants to give him another chance just to be fair with him. Fonda makes the same mistake as the crook -- he writes "DRAW" instead of "DRAWER" -- did he only make that mistake once, or did he do so both times?

Yeah, this is the crux of the matter. Originally the cops are looking to compare writing samples (at least, that's what they claim), but when Manny under dictation produces the same spelling error the robber made they forget about comparing handwriting (which they aren't really capable of doing anyway) and figure they've got something even stronger. Of course, they need to reconfirm, so they have Manny write the words again. When he again writes "DRAW" for "DRAWER" they reckon they've got their man. Of course, it's a common enough error, almost as common as substituting "to" for "too" or "effect" for "affect" so it shouldn't signify anything, but the cops are sloppy thinkers.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 23, 2012, 02:27:05 PM
Yeah, this is the crux of the matter. Originally the cops are looking to compare writing samples (at least, that's what they claim), but when Manny under dictation produces the same spelling error the robber made they forget about comparing handwriting (which they aren't really capable of doing anyway) and figure they've got something even stronger. Of course, they need to reconfirm, so they have Manny write the words again. When he again writes "DRAW" for "DRAWER" they reckon they've got their man. Of course, it's a common enough error, almost as common as substituting "to" for "too" or "effect" for "affect" so it shouldn't signify anything, but the cops are sloppy thinkers.

So the cops want to make a comparison of handwriting 1) though they are not able to do it AND then 2) "forget" to do it. So I have to assume they're Keystone cops. And I keep wondering why the supposedly "original" message is never shown: if the spelling mistake were where it's at, then H. wouldn't have any problem showing it.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: Groggy on April 23, 2012, 03:03:03 PM
So your complaint is that the cops, in a film based on a true story, are shown to be incompetent. Huh.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 23, 2012, 03:08:54 PM
So the cops want to make a comparison of handwriting 1) though they are not able to do it AND then 2) "forget" to do it. So I have to assume they're Keystone cops. And I keep wondering why the supposedly "original" message is never shown: if the spelling mistake were where it's at, then H. wouldn't have any problem showing it.
Maybe. As D&D said, the event comes from Manny's account of things and reflects his point of view. The cops never showed him the original, so we don't get to see it either.

In any case, the cops don't use it as legal evidence against him; it's merely a means to identify him as a suspect, and also has some psychological value (they might be able to force a confession on the strength of it). What does Manny in are the "eye-witnesses". Never very reliable to begin with, these people are in effect coached by the police to ID Manny. This is the point where the system actually fails.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: cigar joe on April 23, 2012, 03:12:56 PM
I'm thinking that back in the day the eye witnesses identifications held quite a bit of weight (though now we know better), the cops may have been looking for a quick easy collar and sort of railroaded Balestrero.

Something is not kosher with the story as it plays on the screen, perhaps Hitch in order to be able to shoot in the actual criminal justice locals, had to play politics with NYPD and not tell all the facts.

edit found this:

http://books.google.com/books?id=CkgEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA97&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false (http://books.google.com/books?id=CkgEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA97&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false)


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: titoli on April 24, 2012, 12:02:55 AM
I'm thinking that back in the day the eye witnesses identifications held quite a bit of weight (though now we know better), the cops may have been looking for a quick easy collar and sort of railroaded Balestrero.

Something is not kosher with the story as it plays on the screen, perhaps Hitch in order to be able to shoot in the actual criminal justice locals, had to play politics with NYPD and not tell all the facts.

edit found this:

http://books.google.com/books?id=CkgEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA97&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false (http://books.google.com/books?id=CkgEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA97&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false)

So he was told to write it a half-dozen times UNTIL he misspelled it: that's my guess.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 24, 2012, 01:35:20 AM
So your complaint is that the cops, in a film based on a true story, are shown to be incompetent. Huh.

-- I think that that those who are arguing that the cops are the villains here are arguing that the cops are actually out to get Fonda, and not merely incompetent.


-- Btw, I do not know how advanced the science of matching handwritings was in the 50's; was it something that any cop thought he could spot easily, or was it like it is today, a very specialized science?

-- does anyone remember whether Fonda misspelled "DRAWER" on both of his samples, or only the second one?


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: cigar joe on April 24, 2012, 03:37:14 AM
-- I think that that those who are arguing that the cops are the villains here are arguing that the cops are actually out to get Fonda, and not merely incompetent.


-- Btw, I do not know how advanced the science of matching handwritings was in the 50's; was it something that any cop thought he could spot easily, or was it like it is today, a very specialized science?

-- does anyone remember whether Fonda misspelled "DRAWER" on both of his samples, or only the second one?

not off hand.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 24, 2012, 04:30:14 AM
not off hand.

I assume that reply on my third point?

If so, do you know anything about my second point (ie. how advanced the science of handwriting analysis was in the 50's)?


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 24, 2012, 05:39:24 AM
So he was told to write it a half-dozen times UNTIL he misspelled it: that's my guess.
I went back and watched the scene in the film again. After Manny writes out the two notes, the cops put the "original" aside and hold up the two Manny has written. What is apparently the first note Manny wrote partially obscures the second note, but the word "DRAWER" is clearly visible on the first note (at least, it's visible on an upscaled DVD on a 46" monitor). So titoli is right (as far as the movie is concerned): Manny spelled the word correctly the first time, the second time he didn't, and the cops stopped the exercise once they got the result they wanted.


Title: Re: The Wrong Man (1956)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 24, 2012, 05:57:41 AM
(ie. how advanced the science of handwriting analysis was in the 50's)?
That's not even quite the issue, as they were comparing samples of printing rather than cursive. Of course, there may be ways to compare printing also, but the differences would be even more subtle than what one typically sees in handwriting comparisons. How would cops be able to eye-ball those differences? Clearly, the cops are using the "handwriting" angle as a pretext as they go on their fishing expedition.