The Wrong Man (1956)
Genre: Crime Drama Noir
Starring: Henry Fonda (12 Angry Men; The Grapes Of Wrath)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Murder!; The Man Who Knew Too Much)
Overview: When a man is identified as a bank robber, he does all he can to help prove his innocence, yet somehow they've not convinced that they've got the wrong man.
Acting: So Henry Fonda. You either love him or hate him, and those who hate him are complete morons who don't grasp the concept of the 'resolute everyman'. He's softer than those hard guys, yet his characters are all ultra-humanist and they're the type who keep hope with plans to persevere with a stoic resolve. Again we have that sort of man here, and awesomely done. His wife, the cops, everyone plays a role familiar and expected, while still gracing us with a unique take, personalizing it with a hint of subtext.
Cinematography: The choice of using black and white film and doing a stark recreation of a heavily stylized film noir and juxtaposing it with a normal everyman's tale lends us a nice context, adding drama to what needs none, given the person suffering is someone we all know. What I was impressed with were the art shorts and camera tricks that Hitchcock used. That put this just nice over the top. I turned to Girlfriend of Squish and said, "how Hitchcock can make a man walking up stairs have so much suspense, I'll never understand."
Script: The normal and everyday dialogue hits home rather well. I think my biggest issue with the film were the naive police parts, but I guess if it's based on a true story of real situations as they occurred in the Fifties, then it turns bone-chillingly weird. Cops honestly declaring details to the suspect, jurors standing up in court and talking. It's so strange you've got to believe it.
Plot: This is not a mystery with a twist. Going in knowing that makes it even better, because then you're left with just an honest man's story of how he is taken by a system that does everything by the book and how this sort of thing could happen to any one of us. In fact it's based on a true story, and that's what makes it amazing.
Mood: What I liked best about this story is the way it unfolded more as a personal testament than a dramatic portrayal that wrapped itself up nicely. As this is based on a true story, this has far more human elements, adding suspense in the processes rather than climaxes. Walks to the police station, confusing bureaucratic shuffles, moments spent reflecting alone, these are the things that allow us to get into the haunting experience of a man. There's no great shoot outs or terrors to reap the soul, just a constant underlying fear. The fear that everything hangs on a thread. The fear that this could happen to any single one of us.