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Wrong Man, The (1956)

The Wrong Man is one of the bleakest movies Hitchcock ever made. Henry Fonda plays Manny Balestrero, a New York jazz musician who is mistakenly identified as the man who robbed an insurance office.

Though he’s released on bail, the worry and disgrace begin to affect his wife Rose (Vera Miles). They try to find the people who can confirm Manny’s alibi, but they fail.

Shot in black-and-white with almost documentary-style realism, The Wrong Man is based on an actual case, as stated by Hitchcock himself in a short prologue.

It explores one of Hitchcock’s perennial themes – that of the man accused of a crime he did not commit (North by Northwest (1959) has a similar situation).

The director brilliantly conveys how readily the procedures of indictment and incarceration conspire to impart a sensation of guilt even in the innocent.

In a masterly sequence making use of a subjective camera, we see Manny suffer the humiliation of being booked, searched and fingerprinted – the dirty ink on his hands seeming like a confirmation of his guilt.

Only distinguished English thespian Anthony Quayle seems out of place in a role that needed an American actor. Still, a fine and disturbing work that meant so much to Hitch he made it without salary and does deserve to be better known.

Christopher Emmanuel “Manny” Balestrero
Henry Fonda
Rose Balestrero
Vera Miles
Frank O’Connor
Anthony Quayle
Lieutenant Bowers
Harold J Stone
Mrs Balestrero
Esther Minciotti
Detective Matthews
Charles Cooper
Gene Conforti
Nehemiah Persoff
Constance Willis
Laurinda Barrett
Betty Todd
Norma Connolly
Ann James
Doreen Lang
Mrs O’Connor
Frances Reid
Olga Conforti
Lola D’Annunzio
Gregory Balestrero
Robert Essen
Robert Balestrero
Kippy Campbell

Alfred Hitchcock