The Wrong Man

Screening on Film
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle.
US, 1957, 35mm, black & white, 105 min.

An austere black and white fable dating from the period of Hitchcock’s Technicolor epics, The Wrong Man is the crowning expression of the director’s interest in documentary realism and one of his most overtly religious films. Hitchcock’s favored motif of the cathartic return to a scene of trauma figured into the production itself, with a film employing actual locations and real-life participants to dramatize the true story of a New York musician falsely accused of robbery and his wife’s subsequent mental breakdown. Hitchcock’s characteristic preoccupations with madness, policemen, doppelgangers, money and the transference of guilt are all precisely delineated without the usual leavening of comedy and adventure. Instead, the director patiently interlaces subjective and objective camerawork to draw us into Manny Balestrero’s waking nightmare. A police procedural narrated from the prisoner’s view, in which even the most routine mechanisms of the law seem ominous, The Wrong Man’s saving grace cannot dispel its cruel revelations of fate.

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