The Wrong Man (1956)

The Wrong Manwrong man poster
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Maxwell Anderson and Angus MacPhail
Warner Bros.
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
#326 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Lt. Bowers: An innocent man has nothing to fear, remember that.

This moving true story is surely the saddest that Hitchcock ever made.

Manny Balestrero (Henry Fonda) plays the bass fiddle in the orchestra at the Stork Club. Not the stereotypical musician, he is a quiet family man with a wife, Rose (Vera Miles), and two young sons.  He doesn’t drink and is always on time.  The family is barely scraping by so, when Rose must have expensive dental treatment, he decides to see if he can borrow on her life insurance policy.  Then the nightmare begins.

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When Manny goes to the insurance company, one of the workers is sure she recognizes him as the man that held up the office at gunpoint twice before.  She asks around and soon everybody agrees with her.  So the police pick Manny up, they think they have additional proof of his guilt, and soon he is under arrest for armed robbery.  Things go from bad to worse as Rose starts blaming herself for the whole mess.

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I’m a bit of a true crime buff and you rapidly learn that there is nothing quite so unreliable as eyewitness testimony.  That’s all the police really had on Manny.  Yet while you are watching the film, you can understand their point of view completely.  The tragedy of the thing is that this crime is a matter of every day routine for the cops and the prosecutor, who don’t mean badly, but it has the potential to ruin Manny’s entire life and that of his family.  Fonda is perfect in this part.  I like this one a lot.  Recommended.


5 thoughts on “The Wrong Man (1956)

  1. This was precisely my position on The Wrong Man and why I love it. It may be a crazy coincidence, but it is made perfectly believable. The scene where the staff at the insurance office is talking themselves into believing Manny was their hold-up guy is both infuriating and perfectly understandable.
    Loved it.

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