The Wrong Man

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Year Released: 1955
Rating: 3.0

Not one of Hitch's better known works but still worth finding and exploring, as most of his films are. Despite being done in a non-Hitchcockian style (since it's a quasi-documentary, it's shot at the same places the incidents actually took place), it carries with it a typically Hitchcockian theme: that of the man who is falsely accused of a crime he is completely unaware of (today, it's a cliché, but for Hitch it was a concept he was rather preoccupied with). Here, Henry Fonda - in his only teaming with the Master - plays the Kafkaesque hero (think The Trial) who is mistaken for another man, arrested, and loses his identity. The first forty five minutes is fantastic - the mood is calm and disorienting, and Fonda internalizes everything perfectly (he's basically expressionless - shocked to the point of being silenced), but the last part of the film - when he's released into the comforting arms of his wife - is when it disintegrates, and Hitch essentially switches his narrative focus from Fonda to his wife (Vera Miles), who, despite what everyone else, seems to be overacting. Her storyline - in which she goes "crazy" and ends up in an institution, leaving Fonda to not only balance his life but hers as well - never comes off as being completely believable. Had the second part maintained the same "feel" as the first it would be ranked as one of his more important films.