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Author Topic: The Wrong Man (1956)  (Read 6019 times)
titoli
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« Reply #15 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?

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« Reply #16 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

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« Reply #17 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.

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« Reply #18 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.

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« Reply #19 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?

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« Reply #20 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.

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« Reply #21 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.

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« Reply #22 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.

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« Reply #23 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.   


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« Reply #24 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.

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« Reply #25 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?

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« Reply #26 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.

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« Reply #27 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.

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« Reply #28 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.

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« Reply #29 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.

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