The Wrong Man
This 1956 crime drama may focus on one of Alfred Hitchcock's favorite themes--an innocent man blamed for a crime--but The Wrong Man nonetheless stands outside the director's work. Instead of feeling like a heavily constructed movie, The Wrong Man seems more natural, caught somewhere between Italian neo-realism, thanks to its great on-location New York shots and overall pessimism; an American folk ballad, thanks to its simple plot line and Henry Fonda's haunted performance; and a New York docu-drama (it's based on a true story). Manny Balestrero (Fonda) is a loving husband, doting father, and bass player at the famed Stork Club when he is picked up by the cops for a series of holdups he didn't commit. Fonda's plain-spokenness, deeply set eyes, and gaunt, stooped figure in a hat and trench coat lend the movie a gravity not usually found in Hitchcock's movies. Furthering the darkness, Manny's wife, Rose (Vera Miles), suffers a nervous breakdown because of the false accusation, her travails palpable not only in her voice but also on her skin. While marred slightly by some '50s psychobabble, The Wrong Man is impressively depressing and even tragic at times.