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Hitchcock's THE WRONG MAN


classiccinemafan
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what do you all think of Hitchcock's directing in the Wrong Man ? a couple things bothered me about his directing in this movie.

 

The scenes were Fonda is locked up in a jail. Some of the directing looks sloppy and amateurish to me. The way the camera was going around I think could of been done better. Hitchcock could of had two cameras. One in the front of Henry Fonda and the other from on top of the cell.

 

The scene (If I had directed it) : I'd have close ups of Henry Fonda's face. His eyes and sweat going down his face. The scenes cutting back and forth from the top of the cell to close ups of Henry Fonda's emotions in his face. I'd have the camera in the front move closer and closer to Henry Fonda as it was spinning around the cell going from top to bottom faster and faster.

 

Another thing that bugged me was each sequence in the film where after each act , the scene fades to black and a new scene begins. I've noticed this was done in other of Hitchcock's works such as The Trouble with Harry. But then when I watched it , I was bothered by it.

 

Edited by: classiccinemafan on Jan 23, 2014 1:40 PM

 

Edited by: classiccinemafan on Jan 23, 2014 1:46 PM

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> The scene (If I had directed it) : I'd have close ups of Henry Fonda's face. His eyes and sweat going down his face. The scenes cutting back and forth from the top of the cell to close ups of Henry Fonda's emotions in his face. I'd have the camera in the front move closer and closer to Henry Fonda as it was spinning around the cell going from top to bottom faster and faster.

 

 

If I get this correctly, you'd have pioneered back then a technique that now is a well overused cliche in movies today.

 

Sepiatone

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>classiccinemafan wrote: The scenes [where] Fonda is locked up in a jail. Some of the directing looks sloppy and amateurish to me. The way the camera was going around I think could of been done better. Hitchcock could of had two cameras. One in the front of Henry Fonda and the other from on top of the cell.

 

 

 

Hitchcock's stylish camerawork is one of the things for which this film will always be remembered. The jail scene in which the shadows of the bars appear on Fonda's face is a classic.

 

The other well-known scene in "The Wrong Man" is the double-exposure shot in which the face of the real robber is superimposed over Fonda's face.

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To me Fonda was the wrong man to play the part of a jazz bass player.

 

He was a good fit for being the wrong man as it relates to be a criminal. I guess the original story had the character as a bass player but if I was the producer I would of changed his job to someone that worked in insurance. i.e. a boringdry type of profession.

 

But if I remember correctly working at night was part of the plot so in that sense being a bass player works.

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>finance wrote: Didn't Hitchcock use the same cinematographer (Robert Burks) in most of his films, including this one?

 

You are correct. Burks was the cinematographer for most of Hitchcock's films between 1954 and 1964. His only Oscar win was for "To Catch a Thief" (1955).

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You mentioned The Trouble with Harry, the Hitchcock film that has always bothered me. My impression was that Hitch meticulously shot each scene, and nothing was there that was unintended, or conversely, nothing left out that should be there. Wondering if something wasnt working out between Burks and Hitchcock in their early films, and some shots werent quite as intended. I'm not too bothered by the fade to black between scenes, but the small, almost hidden characters in some of the outdoor scenes are curiousities. Thinking he might have intended them to be there, but why? Have you noticed the figure putting on a coat at the rear corner of the church in the very first scenery shot? Or Jerry Mathers in the meadow, in the fourth shot? They are so small, I didnt even see them the first few times around. And I'm still wondering about the song, credited to John Forsythe, but obviously not his voice.

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It's a very good movie, but there seems to be a fatal plot flaw in it.

 

When Fonda goes to the insurance company to see if he can get a loan on his insurance, that's when the office girls recognize him and think he is the robber.

 

But if he was the robber, he would never go to a place he robbed before, to try to get a loan. He would have simply robbed it again.

 

Fonda in the film never pointed that out to the police.

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Hibi and Finance,

 

PS: This is still a fine film.

 

I believe things like this become noticeable only to people who watch films over and over again. It's like that kid in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, who puts his hands over his ears just before the gunshot in the restaurant. I saw that film probably more than 20 times, but I never noticed that kid doing it until someone pointed it out in a documentary, yet it is so obvious once we do notice it. :P

 

I figure that the directors, film editors, screen writers, etc. were usually well aware of certain flaws in some of their films, but they had enough experience to realized that most audience members would just not notice them, especially if they saw the films only once or twice.

 

Fred

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"I figure that the directors, film editors, screen writers, etc. were usually well aware of certain flaws in some of their films, but they had enough experience to realized that most audience members would just not notice them, especially if they saw the films only once or twice."

 

 

Perhaps, but certainly the critics would have seen the flaws and brought them to the attention of prospective audience members.

 

Too bad the film ended the way it did. I would have loved to have seen Fonda's character sue the police dept. and those "eye witnesses" for false arrest, defamation of character, and mental anguish. He would have cleaned up and wouldn't have had to take that loan against his wife's life insurance policy.

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>Fred said: I believe things like this become noticeable only to people who watch films over and over again.

 

I wholly agree with that assessment.

 

But I also have become disenchanted with Hitchcock and for the most part find his films overrated. While there are a few gems in his crown, the majority of his films fail overall...while Billy Wilder or Fritz Lang's work is consistently more satisfying for the viewer.

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>FredCDobbs:

>But if he was the robber, he would never go to a place he robbed before, to try to get a loan. He would have simply robbed it again. Fonda in the film never pointed that out to the police.

 

Of course not, the police would have realized how stupid they were to have suspected him. An indication of their incompetence is the fact they never thought of it themselves. Or it may have been laziness. They had a ready-made suspect, with witnesses, why go to any further trouble?

 

But wasn't this based on a true incident? Evidence that reality is not believable. Only fiction has plausibility.

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> Too bad the film ended the way it did. I would have loved to have seen Fonda's character sue the police dept. and those "eye witnesses" for false arrest, defamation of character, and mental anguish. He would have cleaned up and wouldn't have had to take that loan against his wife's life insurance policy.

 

I would go after the insurance company. It was THEIR employees who fingered Fonda. And didn't even have the decency to offer a tepid apology to him when they saw him in the police station after the REAL crook was nabbed.

 

Not that I'd have accepted it, if I were him.

 

Anyway, I'd do my best to make sure THEY covered the expense of the wife in the institution.

 

Sepiatone

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I thought Fonda did say something about "why would I go back" to the Police-- I forget. But remember, as someone has already pointed out on this thread, it's a true story and reality is stranger than fiction.Hitch is limited to what really happened, including him not suing the police dept, etc. It's base in actual events is what makes it terrifying for people like me who never do anything but could still get in trouble.

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>the police would have realized how stupid they were to have suspected him. An indication of their incompetence is the fact they never thought of it themselves. Or it may have been laziness. They had a ready-made suspect, with witnesses, why go to any further trouble?

>

>But wasn't this based on a true incident? Evidence that reality is not believable. Only fiction has plausibility.

 

I think you are right.

 

Apparently that situation with the insurance office did actually occur but the police overlooked it and decided to convict Manny based on the smiliarity in his hold-up note that he wrote.

 

I just found the original Life Magazine story, which this film is based on, and it tells the same story about the ladies at the Insurance Company, and the police simply overlook that proof of Manny's innocence, which is the fact that Manny gave the girls his real name and address and he tried to borrow money from them. That is how the police tracked him down, since he gave the girls his real name and address.

 

These detectives must have been really dumb.

 

Scroll down for the entire article. You can enlarge this image to read the small text. Also see the photos. This was published in LIFE in 1953:

 

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=CkgEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PA97#v=onepage&q&f=true

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PS, after reading this Life Magazine article, I have a lot more respect for this film, which I already liked in the first place.

 

It would have been nice if some narrator at the end had pointed out the stupidity of the girls in the office and the police too.

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