Manny Ballestero is an honest hardworking musician at New York's Stork Club. When his wife needs money for dental treatment, Manny goes to the local insurance office to borrow on her policy. Employees at the office mistake... more » him for a hold-up man who robbed them the year before and the police are called. The film tells the true story of what happened to Manny and his family.« less
"Just rented it and had to watch it three times. An amazing film! Where's the DVD version! This simple grim tale a man wrongly imprisoned for robbery and the heart-breaking subsequent mental breakdown of his wife will haunt you. I would argue that this film demonstrates Hitchcock's films in its purest form. No bird attacks or shriveled corpses here but then some of us who love Hitchcock's works believe they are really in the end about people and how they survive, or come to be trapped by, dire circumstances. Watch this movie along with "Vertigo," "Psycho," "The Birds," and "Marnie." Like "Psycho" and "The Birds," we see both physical and psychological imprisonment of the characters (or being caught in a kind of trap might be the relevant metaphor here) and like "Vertigo" and "Marnie," we see the overwhelming power of mental disturbance have on one's ability to control one's own life. I have found that it always helps to compare Hitchcock's films with each other as certain themes seem to occur over and over again, almost as if Hitchcock had some compusive fixation on it.I would consider this film a great tragedy."
A Man Caught in the Wheels of Justice
Michelle Lee | Bloomfield, NJ United States | 12/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is definitely not your typical Hitchcock. Based on a real life case of mistaken identity, we really see the cinematic magic that happens when a captivating story is told by a director with uncanny instinct and depicted by actors with tremendous scope and talent.
Fonda just blew me away with his portrayal of Manny Balestrero, a New York City club musician wrongfully accused of armed robbery. His pithy and grounded performance really gave this film a realistic and poignant feel. You feel a sympathy towards his character as he is churned through the justice system, gutted out physically and emotionally, and ultimately ends up in jail.
Vera Miles' portrayal of his wife Rose was a departure from what Hitchcock fans would expect...this is NOT the goody-goody gutsy sister of Janet Leigh in "Psycho". Vera Miles performance is startling. We see her character descend into mental instability as she places the blame of Manny's incarceration on herself.
The cinematography, of course, is excellent. Here is where Hitchcock makes his signature on an otherwise laid-out story. The backdrop of NYC lends its own gritty feel. All in all, this is a wonderfully rich film. It is an excellent contrast to Hitchcock's more sophisticated, glossy films like Vertigo and Rear Window, and the acting is simply superb.
A must for any Hitchcock fan."
"An innocent man has nothing to fear, remember that"
Jeremy W. Forstadt | Pawtucket, RI | 11/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Apparently the innocent man has plenty to fear, and that is the subject of this curious film by Alfred Hitchcock. Although the theme of false accusation is one that Hitchcock would use repeatedly throughout his career, THE WRONG MAN is a different kind of a Hitchcock film in many ways.
This film claims to be--and in fact is--a true story (it was based upon a 1952 LIFE magazine article "The True Story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero") and Hitchcock went to great lengths in minimizing the fictionalization of any part of this narrative. The result is quite a serious film. Henry Fonda plays Manny Balestrero, a devoted family man who plays bass at night for local nightclub band. Based on faulty eyewitness identification, he is accused of committing a string of armed hold-ups that have been plaguing his neighborhood.
Now, in the usual Hitchcock film, the hero of the story would go on the lam, meet up with a beautiful blonde, and set about solving the mystery and clearing his own name. That does not happen here. We follow Balestrero through the tedious but very real process of being accused, processed, and jailed while his wife Rose (Vera Miles) slowly suffers a complete mental breakdown. So serious is this film, in fact, that Hitchcock forgoes his usual cameo role and instead appears during a prologue to the film explaining the film's basis in fact.
THE WRONG MAN has a documentary feel to it reflecting the considerable efforts by Hitchcock to be true to the real story. In many cases, in fact, the picture was filmed in the actual locations where the true to life events took place, including The Stork Club in Manhattan, the police precinct house in Queens, and the actual insurance office where one of the original armed robberies took place. Hitchcock even filmed in the psychiatric ward where Rose Balestrero was committed with the real doctors playing themselves!
THE WRONG MAN is not an exciting film and it lacks the usual humor of a Hitchcock outing, but it was never intended to be exciting or funny. This film is pure drama and realism, and one gets the feeling that this film was made because Hitchcock felt that it was immensely important to make. Still, Hitchcock had his reservations about his results. He once stated "it's possible I was too concerned with veracity to take sufficient dramatic license." Nevertheless, THE WRONG MAN is a remarkable film in the catalogue of realism and should not be missed.
Jeremy W. Forstadt"
Atypical thriller helped by terrific performances
A. Gammill | West Point, MS United States | 08/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Fans of Alfred Hitchcock's more popular films like Vertigo, Rear Window and North By Northwest may be at first a bit put-off by the serious nature of this film. To be sure, the film is well-directed and generates some real tension. But that suspense comes not from breath-taking chases or fabulous set pieces, but from the investment the viewer puts into the characters.
I admit I'm a huge fan of the Hitchcock colloborations with James Stewart, so I wasn't sure how well I would like Henry Fonda. But he is excellent as Manny...very believable and sympathetic. Even more impressive is Vera Miles as Manny's wife, who goes from adoring partner to a closed shell of psychosis by the film's end. In fact, I for one forgave the script's last-act change of focus (from Manny to his wife) because I was so caught up in Miles' performance. In all of Hitchcock's impressive body of work, only Vertigo has a more downbeat resolution.
Although it's certainly not as technically brilliant as many of the director's better-known works, THE WRONG MAN is worth seeing for the excellent casting, and the fact that it's really unlike any other Hitchcock film.
Patrik Lemberg | Tammisaari Finland | 03/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an extraordinary Hitchcock film. It's very powerful and very different. "The difference lies in the fact that this is a true story - every word of it"; a quote of Hitchcock's from the opening of the film. It is sad that a story like this is true and that it has happened, but it's part of what makes the film as powerful as it is. Another power-factor is the black and white cinematography , which lends a whole other mood, than if it had been shot in colour. Great acting, great directing. I'm very much looking forward to this film's being released on DVD, I'm surprised that it isn't available yet, considering how much of Hitchcock's work is.
Enter your e-mail address above, and thus vote for the release of this disc, everybody - it's a lock!"