Monday, 14 February 2011

The Wrong Man

And now tot he final film for past days The Wrong Man, a lugubrious film with an excellent performance from Henry Fonda and Anthony Quale as his lawyer with Vera Miles as the wife who becomes also catatonic with her sense of personal failure.
What interested me is that the film is based on a true story which was published in the book by Maxwell Anderson The true Story of Emannuel Balestrero and also Life Magazine June 29th 1953. I have not been able to confirm if the film is accurate.

The beleaguered hero is a musician who plays at the Stork Club and he and his wife have constant money problems. When he goes to get a loan on the life insurance to pay for dental treatment his wife needs, staff call the police because of his likeness to the man who has robbed the counter staff twice and not been caught. He is unable to provide an alibi especially when no one is able to confirm that he stayed at a small hotel on a fishing trip on one fo the days when a robbery took place. He is able to get the names and addresses of two of the three men also staying at the hotel at the same time but finds that both have since died and the third name cannot be found. His lawyer does his best to make the case for mistaken identity and his interrogation of one witness upsets a juror who speaks out that forcing the course to determine a retrial at a later date.

Fortunately the actual robbery commits another hold up at a store and is apprehended. In the film teh detective who arrested Fonda sees the man being brought into the police station and makes the connection. I would not be surprised if in reality the man admitted to the previous offences and this resulted in Fonda being cleared. However the sub story that the impact fo all this on his wife as she becomes so depressed because she feels she is responsible by not managing their budget more effectively and being the cause of his visit to the insurance office for the loan. Her illness is such that the doctor feels she needs a sympathetic peaceful environment so he arranged for her to be treated in a small residential institution. When the credits role they tell the audience that it was a further two years before she recovered. The film also makes the point about the danger is using identity parades alone to make a prosecution especially because there was a time gap between the robberies and his visit. The film was produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock and therefore has a well scripted element of suspense for those unfamiliar with the story

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