The Film (4.5/5)
With a career of over 5 decades and 53 films I would be understating things by saying Alfred Hitchcock had a large and diverse filmography. I have been a fan of Hitchcock's work almost as long as I have been a fan of film, since the day my Dad bought me a bargain VHS of Psycho. However, I have not seen every film by the master, and have actually missed a good number of them. Occasionally I have thought that I have must have at least seen all of his films worth seeing, and then this week Warner Archives the direct to Blu-ray subsidiary of Warner Brothers sent over his 1956 film the Wrong Man starring Henry Fonda and Vera Miles, and I was to find out that I was very very wrong.
The Wrong Man came out during the 1950's Hollywood Golden period of Hitchcock's work found neatly between the remake of his own The Man Who Knew Too Much, and one of his most iconic films Vertigo. The film is based on the true story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero (played in the film by Henry Fonda) a bass player at New York's trendy Stork Club who one day while trying to make a loan against his wife, Rose's, (Vera Miles) insurance policy finds himself arrested for a robbery he did not commit. The film then follows Manny as he is known and Rose as they try to prove his innocence.
The film did not do well for Hitchcock upon it's 1956 release. Admittedly, the film is a darker affair for the director. This would be more due to the fact that that the subject is based in the true crime arena, and when the director's signature suspense style is applied to such an event it could almost be too much. This was after all 3 years after the event was in the public consciousness. Watching it in 2016, however, I was struck by how well Hitchcock manipulated the event similar to Kafka's the Trial.
The events leading to to Manny's arrest began with a rumor around an insurance office, and then little incidental things like handwriting samples began to dig him further into an inevitably jail sentence. Hitchcock almost treats the event as a force of nature coming down on one man. The Wrong Man as such becomes a riveting experience sure to keep even the most jaded of viewers on the edge of their seats as they await a final resolution to Manny's case.
The performances from Henry Fonda and Vera Miles are truly excellent. With Vera Miles being quite of note as she goes from supporting and determined wife, to withdrawn, wracked with guilt, and insane from the experience. Fonda, it should go without saying brings Manny to the cinema screen very well offering a very classic portrayal of a man determined to make it through the dark, and prove his innocence.
Warner Archives brings Hitchcock's the Wrong Man to HD with startling results. The black and white documentary style cinematography translate beautifully to the format with deep blacks and solid whites and grays. There is a nice level of detail present, and the grain structure is natural, but unobtrusive. The audio is presented in a similarly solid DTS-HD MA 2.0 track with dialogue and score coming through clearly, and no issues to note.
The WAC Blu-ray release of Hitchcock's the Wrong Man comes with a 80 minute documentary entitled Guilt Trip that details the film, making of, and more. It features a plethora of Hitchcock experts and is an excellent addition to this release. There is also the film's theatrical trailer.
The Wrong Man is not one of Hitchcock's most well known films, but it is an intense and suspenseful experience. The Blu-ray from Warner Archives looks and sounds fantastic. The extras are limited, but excellent, and this release comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.