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Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Wrong man (released in 1956) staring Henry Fonda, struggling to prove themselves innocent

This movie was adapted from a book by Maxwell Anderson, “The True story of Christopher, Emmanuel Balestrero” and is based on a true life incident.
It deals with a couple who fight for justice when the husband is convicted as a result of a mistaken identity. Manny Balestrero, a musician in a night club and his wife Rose live a hand and mouth existence. He tries to borrow money against Rose's insurance for some dental work which needs to be done. While he is at he insurance office, the clerk notices that he resembles the armed robber who had robbed the office. He calls in the police and soon the witnesses are marched in who swear to have seen him robing the office. Manny tries to prove his innocence, but fails. Even in his handwriting sample, in his nervousness, he misspells the same words that the robber himself had mis-spelt. Soon Manny is taken in to custody and the trial begins.
The couple hire Frank O'Connor as the defense attorney who builds up the case in their favor. He argues that Manny and Rose were on a vacation during the first robbery. But the 3 witnesses who had seen them during the vacation had died and this alibi also fails to impress. During the second robbery Manny had a swollen jaw which would have been easily noticeable by the insurance agency employee.



Rose is unable to bear the strain of this ordeal and soon buckles under pressure. She is confined to the sanitarium and is treated for depression. During the trial a bored Juror passes a remark which makes the judge to declare a mistrial. Manny is forced to await another trial in prison. As luck could have it the real robber is arrested and Manny is set free. He reaches Rose with the happy news but finds her apathetic. Soon Rose is cured and the family moves to Florida.
This movie was based on a true life story and is the last movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock for Warner bros. After this he made pictures only for Paramount. This movie is said to have been the only true story in Hitchcock's entire body of work. He is said to have hated the police and this sentiment is amply reflected in this movie. Hitchcock even did a cameo as the story teller in the movie and this is the only time he has appeared in any one of his pictures. He even cast the real Balesstrero witnesses in small parts for the movie. The real life Frank O'Connor is a New York Senator who rises to a appellate Judge.
The wrong man failed to impress at the box office, but is considered a classic. This movie has significant influence on many directors, and was influenced in making of the 2006 movie Lucky Number Slevin.

The Wrong man (released in 1956) staring Henry Fonda, struggling to prove themselves innocent

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