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MPAA Rating - NR

    105 Minutes


Original Release Date:
    Sep 7, 2004

    Alfred Hitchcock

    Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle, Harold J. Stone, Charles Cooper

Movie Summary
Director Alfred Hitchcock lets us know from the outset that The Wrong Man is a painfully true story and not one of his customary fabricated suspense yarns, through the simple expedient of walking before the camera and telling us as much (this introductory appearance replaced his planned cameo role as a nightclub patron). The real-life protagonist, musican Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero, is played by Henry Fonda. Happily married and gainfully employed at the Stork Club, Balestreros life takes a disastrous turn when he goes to an insurance office, hoping to borrow on his wifes (Vera Miles) life insurance policy in order to pay her dental bills. One of the girls in the office spots Balestrero, identifying him as the man who robbed the office a day or so earlier. This, and a few scattered bits of circumstantial evidence, lead to Balestreros arrest. Though hes absolutely innocent, he can offer no proof of his whereabouts the day of the crime. Lawyer Frank OConnor (Anthony Quayle) does his best to help his client, but hes up against an indifferent judicial system that isnt set up to benefit the little man. Meanwhile, Balestreros wife becomes emotionally unhinged, leading to a complete nervous breakdown. As Balestrero prays in his cell, his image is juxtaposed onto the face of the actual criminal-who looks nothing like the accused man! Utilizing one of his favorite themes-the helplessness of the innocent individual when confronted by the faceless bureaucracy of the Law-Hitchcock weaves a nightmarish tale, all the more frightening because it really happened (the films best moment: Fonda looking around the nearly empty courtroom during his arraignment, realizing that the rest of the world cares precisely nothing about his inner torment). Hitch enhances the films versimilitude by shooting in the actual locations where the real story occured. His only concession to Hollywood formula was the half-hearted coda, assuring us that Mrs. Balestrero eventually recovered from her mental collapse (she sure doesnt look any too healthy the last time we see her!) Watch for uncredited appearances by Harry Dean Stanton, Bonnie Franklin, Tuesday Weld and Charles Aidman. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


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