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Author Topic: The Wrong Man (1956)  (Read 6007 times)
cigar joe
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« on: April 18, 2012, 06:46:44 PM »

Director: Alfred Hitchcock, starring Stars: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles and Anthony Quayle.



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


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.



Miles as Rose



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



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

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« Reply #1 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.

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« Reply #2 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.

« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 08:11:06 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #3 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. Shocked. Northside 777, on the contrary, is very weak and melodramatic.

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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 08:53:43 PM »

None of CJ's complaints are what I'd consider a flaw.

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« Reply #5 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.

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« Reply #6 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  Wink


« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 10:04:38 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #7 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  Wink






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
 

« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 04:18:44 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #8 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

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« Reply #9 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  Wink

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« Reply #10 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.

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« Reply #11 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

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« Reply #12 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.

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« Reply #13 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?

« Last Edit: April 22, 2012, 10:00:27 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #14 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.

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