The Wrong Man (1956)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Guilt Trip: Hitchcock And The Wrong Man
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1956
Running Time 101:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Henry Fonda
Vera Miles
Anthony Quayle
Harold Stone
John Heldabrand
Doreen Lang
Norma Connolly
Lola D'Annunzio
Robert Essen
Dayton Lummis
Charles Cooper
Esther Minciotti
Laurinda Barrett
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Bernard Herrmann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film is the youngest of the four films included in the newly released Warner Home Video collection of Alfred Hitchcock films made for Warners between 1950 and 1957. They are not available separately. The reviews of the first two films from this set are here (Stage Fright) and here (I Confess). The last one (Dial M for Murder) will be reviewed soon. As I divulge in those reviews, I am a lover of Hitchcock's work.

    The Wrong Man is a very serious film, and even more serious than I Confess. The tone is quite tense and emotional, focusing on the effects of mistaken identity on the life of an average man, Christopher Emanuel 'Manny' Balestrero (Henry Fonda). To my knowledge, this is the only Hitchcock film based entirely on a true story. Manny is a bass player in the band at a swanky club in New York and struggles to support his wife, Rose (Vera Miles), and two sons. He is seemingly a good and honest man, who is very reliable and loves his family very much. When his wife requires some dental work, he goes to the office of the insurance company with whom they hold life insurance policies. His plan is to see how much money they can borrow on the policy to pay for the dental work. When he arrives, the staff at the insurance company believe him to be a man who robbed them twice in the last few months. They, of course, call the police who proceed to arrest Manny. Due to other circumstantial evidence, the police charge him with the life insurance company robbery and various other robberies which have occurred in the area. He enlists the assistance of a lawyer, Frank O'Connor (Anthony Quayle), to represent him at the trial. The main focus of the movie is the psychological effects of the situation on Manny and his family.

    This film has many wonderful touches and elements, however, in my opinion suffers from not having an interesting enough story, which can be a problem with films based on true stories, especially years after they were topical. I am sure this film's storyline would have been more interesting when it was made in 1956 due to the topicality of the true story from 1953 and the fact that the storyline of a mistaken identity had not been made into a film as many times as it has now. Regardless, there is much here to enjoy for the Alfred Hitchcock fan, with many of his signature touches including his focus on people's eyes, his use of shadow, interesting camera angles and tricks such as viewing Manny's cell through the eye slit, or the circular motion of the camera while Manny is in his cell. Interestingly, this is one of the few Hitchcock films without a cameo unless you count his prologue, where he appears as a silhouette in a darkened studio and announces the true nature of the story to be portrayed. Henry Fonda is quite good as Manny, without really standing out, however Vera Miles is wonderful as his wife, portraying the various emotions which his wife goes through during his ordeal. I was interested to note that Hitchcock wanted her to play the lead in Vertigo but she got pregnant. Another interesting member of the cast in a small role is Werner Klemperer who would be known to Hogan's Heroes fans as Colonel Klink. Another wonderful element is the score by Bernard Herrman, his third for Hitchcock. It really adds to the tension of the movie.

    So, a well made film, based on a not overly interesting true story. Worthwhile for Hitchcock fans, of less interest for others.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good for a film of this age.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close enough to the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 to not make a huge difference, although the picture seems to have been horizontally cropped. This is the only film in the box set which was originally in widescreen.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout despite the grain (which was heavy at times), with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was pretty good, however some scenes were designed to have impenetrable blacks.

    The black and white contrast was quite good with blacks dark and solid and good distinction between the various shades of grey and white.

    Artefacts were present as you would expect with a film of this age, however they were not too bad. I noticed one spot of extremely minor aliasing on a striped dress at 97:50.There was some minor edge enhancement. On the film artefacts front, I noticed some minor specks and some lines and a larger mark at 60:40.

    There are subtitles in 6 languages including English and also English & Italian for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear, easy to read and reasonably close to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 61:46 and is very well hidden.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French & Italian.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there were no major problems with audio sync, although it did seem slightly out during the scene at the doctor's office at 78:00.

    The score of this film by Bernard Herrmann is excellent, significantly adding to the feel and tension of the film. The music comes across extremely well despite being only in mono.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included stills, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

Guilt Trip: Hitchcock and The Wrong Man (20:17)

    Similar in format to the documentaries on the first two discs but with less interesting information to convey. Features interviews with a number of film historians and the Art Director of The Wrong Man. He discusses some of the challenges which Hitchcock gave him, such as making sets to a different scale due to the way Hitchcock wanted to shoot them. Also covers location shooting issues and music and sound effects used. Made in 2004. Still worth watching.

Theatrical Trailer (2:27)

    Not a bad trailer, with a voiceover by Hitch himself.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is in the same format as that in Region 1 except for PAL/NTSC differences.

Summary

    Another well made film from Alfred Hitchcock featuring an excellent performance by Vera Miles, but a slightly sub-par story.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    The disc has a small selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, December 27, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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