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*** SPOILER ALERT ***

After watching the indescribably wonderful documentary, "Hitchcock/Truffaut," last night, I leapt into the film "The Wrong Man," which is the one film by Alfred Hitchcock about which then-critic Jean-Luc Godard wrote his longest-ever piece of criticism - Both Godard and François Truffaut, pioneers of the "French New Wave" of Directors, were then working as critics for the legendary French publication, "Cahiers du Cinéma." so this film fits right in with the Hitchcock/Truffaut documentary, and was mentioned in it as well.

This is the only Hitchcock film where Hitchcock himself came out and addressed the audience at the beginning, assuring them that it was a true story, and that the facts that went into the tale were just as fantastic as most of what he's written about as fiction in the past.

"The Wrong Man" stars Henry Fonda as a respectable, but struggling musician in New York City, Manny Balestrero, and his wife, Rose, played by Vera Miles. Rose has an impacted set of wisdom teeth, which can only be fixed to the tune of $300, which is money the two don't have - the next day, Manny goes into the bank and asks to borrow on Rose's insurance policy, but three female tellers are certain that he is the same man who came in recently and robbed the bank - they pacified him, and told him to come back in with his wife, while putting the authorities on full alert.

In a scene which came shortly afterwards, I was certain I recognized the lady who played Manny's mother, Esther Minciotti, and sure enough, Minciotti had played the wonderfully endearing role as Marty's (Ernest Bourgnine's) mother in the 1955 Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, "Marty."

If you watch the Hitchcock/Truffaut documentary first, you'll remember very well the scene in which Manny first gets thrown into his jail cell. He looks around - not at the locked door - but at all different angles, and it gives the viewer a real sense of being locked up. This is his very first experience in jail, and his fear is palpable.

Halfway through this movie, I am awestruck at how realistic it is - there's no fluffing anything up; it's as if we're watching a real story unfold (which we are). I'm a little surprised that Manny is so stoic about everything, but he seems completely shell-shocked to this point - almost like he's unable to get hold of his facilities.

Hitchcock *really* takes his time setting this plot up - Manny doesn't even meet his attorney, Frank O'Connor (a real attorney, played by Anthony Quayle), until about two-thirds of the film is over. Fortunately, O'Connor - seemingly a decent man - accepts the case.

Some interesting notes: Shortly after meeting with O'Connor, Manny and Rose run into two giggly girls living at an apartment: One of them is a twelve-year-old Tuesday Weld (of "Looking for Mr, Goodbar"), and the other is an eleven-year-old Bonnie Franklin (of "One Day at a Time"). It's noteworthy how many known actors and actresses are in this film - when Rose has a mental breakdown, she sees a psychiatrist, Dr. Bannay, and it's none other than Werner Klemperer - Colonel Klink on "Hogan's Heroes." During Manny's trial, one of the jurors is Barney Martin (Jerry Seinfeld's father on "Seinfeld"), and finally, Harry Dean Stanton (Brett in "Alien") plays a Department of Corrections employee, though I couldn't find him when I looked. I believe none of the people mentioned in this paragraph are credited, and for some, it's the debut film of their career.

This is about the closest thing to being a "non-fiction" film I've seen without actually being one - it's "based on a true story," and is so faithful to it that it doesn't seem right labeling it a "crime movie" or a "suspense movie." It's clear that Hitchcock took great pains to stay as true to the base story as he possibly could have, so I'm going to go ahead and label this movie "non-fiction" even though that may not be technically correct.

A magnificent film.

Apr 17, 2013 - "History of Film Criticism: Godard on 'The Wrong Man'" on torontofilmreview.blogspot.com

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There are two major Hollywood stars whose screen presence and acting style I simply can't bear, and consequently make it very difficult to enjoy any of the films they were in. One is Henry Fonda, the other is James Stewart. I can't really explain what I find so annoying about them, but they make my skin crawl every time I see them. And really, Stewart wins the best actor Oscar for "The Philadelphia Story" and not Cary Grant? That just disgusts me.

I don't think I've ever seen "The Wrong Man", but I'm not a big Hitchcock fan, and Henry Fonda makes my flesh creep, so I'm probably not going to see it in the future.

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I enjoyed this film. In some ways it is classic Hitchcock and in others, it is the polar opposite of anything else he did. After watching the film, I looked up articles about the real Manny Balestrero. The person who committed the crime bore an uncanny resemblance to him, more so than Fonda and the actor who played the stick-up-man in the film.

This article contains a photo of both men, as well as a link to Manny's appearance on the television game show, "To Tell the Truth."

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19 hours ago, The Hersch said:

There are two major Hollywood stars whose screen presence and acting style I simply can't bear, and consequently make it very difficult to enjoy any of the films they were in. One is Henry Fonda, the other is James Stewart. I can't really explain what I find so annoying about them, but they make my skin crawl every time I see them. And really, Stewart wins the best actor Oscar for "The Philadelphia Story" and not Cary Grant? That just disgusts me.

I don't think I've ever seen "The Wrong Man", but I'm not a big Hitchcock fan, and Henry Fonda makes my flesh creep, so I'm probably not going to see it in the future.

How tastes differ.  I think Jimmy Stewart is one of the best actors to ever appear on film and I'll pick one of his films over any other rerun drivel almost every time.  It's a tough call between Grant and Smith in Philadelphia Story, I'll give you that much, but I think Stewart's part had a lot more nuance that had to be conveyed than did Grant's.

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25 minutes ago, weezy said:

How tastes differ.  I think Jimmy Stewart is one of the best actors to ever appear on film and I'll pick one of his films over any other rerun drivel almost every time.  It's a tough call between Grant and Smith in Philadelphia Story, I'll give you that much, but I think Stewart's part had a lot more nuance that had to be conveyed than did Grant's.

Yes, tastes differ. To convey some sense of what I enjoy and admire in (male) film actors of Hollywood's golden age, these are among my very favorites:

Cary Grant

James Cagney

Charlie Chaplin (for the handful of talkies he made)

Fredric March

(If you want to see an example of how great Fredric March was, watch the American Film Theater production of The Iceman Cometh, which was his last film appearance, in the role of Harry Hope.)

Laurence Olivier

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2 hours ago, weezy said:

How tastes differ.  I think Jimmy Stewart is one of the best actors to ever appear on film and I'll pick one of his films over any other rerun drivel almost every time.  It's a tough call between Grant and Smith in Philadelphia Story, I'll give you that much, but I think Stewart's part had a lot more nuance that had to be conveyed than did Grant's.

I was going to write this last night, but I'll go ahead and issue a follow-up on your post.

I, too, really like Jimmy Stewart. However, I'm not the biggest Henry Fonda fan either - that said, I think Herschel might like this more than any other Henry Fonda picture because it's such a stolid, morose part he plays that it's almost like he's not Henry Fonda (if you click on the Henry Fonda tag, we have a pretty fair representation of his films here). Personally, this was my favorite role I've seen of his because he is incredibly believable as Manny Balestrero. I don't remember "On Golden Pond" very well since I saw it when it was released, but I remember liking him in that also because he played such a gentle man.

The "To Tell the Truth" episode is worth watching.

The Iceman Cometh is 4-hours long.  <_<

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