As any regular reader of this blog will know, I’m currently in the middle of a Dr Who review project, where I review each story from the William Hartnell Era all the way through to the present day.
It’s a fun little project that keeps me writing and it has plenty of followers.
But some readers have asked that I mix it up more often in my reviews because they aren’t all that interested in the BBC’s most famous Doctor.
So what to do? If there isn’t much on TV or if I haven’t been to the cinema, what else is there to write about?
Well I thought I would try doing a Hitchcock review project, going through as many of his films as possible and offering my opinion.
Chances are that these reviews won’t be anywhere near as extensive as some of my Doctor Who ones as there’s less to write about, but I’ll try my best.
To start, I’ll review a film I thought I had never seen before – The Wrong Man.
What’s It About?
Henry Fonda stars in the true story of a band musician – Christopher Emmanuel “Manny” Balestrero – mistakenly identified as and arrested for a number of armed robberies of local businesses in the 1950s New York.
The stress of the arrest and subsequent trial takes its toll on Manny and his wife (played by Vera Miles), with her having to be committed because of a nervous breakdown.
As it turns out, all charges against Manny are dropped because the real criminal is caught holding up another shop.
How Highly Is It Rated?
The Wrong Man comes in with a score of 7.5 on imdb.com and has a Rotten Tomatoes Approval Rating of 89%
Thoughts – An Un-Memorable Affair
You’ll note above that I said I thought I’d never seen The Wrong Man before, but I realised around 20 minutes in that I actually had done a few years ago.
And therein lies the immediate problem with The Wrong Man – it’s not memorable in the slightest.
The question is ‘Why?’.
Well what you have to consider is that this is based on a true story. Indeed, Hitchcock himself starts the film by telling the audience that this is unlike any film he’s ever made before because of that very fact.
But the unfortunate truth is that true stories are often a bit dull.
So Manny is arrested, and that’s all very stressful for him, but that in itself just isn’t exciting enough to carry an entire plot.
There is no suspense, there are shocks and there are no twists or turns, and even if it is the truth, the fact that it’s resolved by the real criminal being caught in the act towards the end just makes the whole thing feel like a colossal waste of time.
Basically it’s just: Man gets arrested. Man goes to trial. Man gets off because of something totally outwith his control. Not the most exciting of plots.
On a similar note, the very end of the film has Manny leaving his wife in care because she’s too far gone to understand that the charges were dropped, and then it’s followed up with a caption saying “Manny’s wife recovered and now they live in Florida”. Why not just have a scene from when she got better?
In fairness, Henry Fonda is perfectly acceptable in the lead role because of his innocent nature. While someone like Cary Grant would seem miscast in a role like this, Fonda just doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would commit such crimes and so he’s believable in the part.
The direction is also good, with some great lighting, approach shots through doors and lingering close-ups of the characters that did a grand job of getting their emotions across.
Furthermore, the film also does an important job of highlighting what can happen in cases of mistaken identity.
Is It Deserving of Its Rating?
While I can praise aspects like direction and casting all day, a good film needs an engaging plot and this just doesn’t have it.
The big thing for me is that I couldn’t remember watching it the first time and that says it all.
It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not worth the high ratings it seems to attract.
One to avoid.