I've rarely been more disturbed watching a Hitchcock film, even the ending seems wrong and inappropriate in a way. I think the film works perfectly because Fonda, Miles and the kids are so damn likable as the struggling middle class family, and Hitchcock's gift for exteriorizing psychological traits in small details has never been better, not to mention the striking real locations and his unimpeachable film grammar.
Again, why is this film so often ignored. It rivals Vertigo in terms of it's direction. If Hitchcock's film are about his fear of the law and innocence being convicted, than this is logical peak of that theme. In many ways, this is the best Kafka cinematic adaptation. Godard summed it up perfectly when speaking of the miracle at the end. Hitchcock didn't simply put it on film but rather filmed it.
A typical Hitchcockian motif delivered in an atypical style. Here the filmmaker pares back his stylisations to deliver a story ripped from the headlines. There's a grittiness & almost procedural-like actuality to the way the thing develops, but this only seems to make the (real life) story feel all the more preposterous & far-fetched. I prefer Hitchcock when he's pushing the Freudian analysis & dreamlike abstraction.
"The Wrong Man" is not really about the identity crisis of a man wrongly accused of robbery but about the crisis of the society that formulates that accusation. This crisis is perceived by Hitchcock in terms of pure evil that possesses the wronged man's wife and drives her to madness. As Kim Novak is sentenced to die a second time in "Vertigo", so is she sentenced to eternal despair as atonement for the evil in men.
Some great photography and direction aside, this is one of the most boring movies I've seen in my life. I know Hitchcock was trying to cleanse the palate but the tedium was too much. If you've seen Hitchcock's greats and want to spread out you may not go wrong, but by no means start with this one...
excellent film. simple, yet great directing, great acting, great technique. henry fonda gives immense depth to the ordinary american Joe, simply through his facial expressions, yet also through his believable integrity. fascinating, how naturally he owns the role. he is like a springsteen song, that everyone understands. and hitchcock balances his act, with a kind of subtleness that holds everything together.
Perhaps Hitchcock's more serious, realistic and touching drama about mistaken identity. Robert Burkes' noirish documentary-like photography it's one of the highlights, as well as Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in natural and believable roles of common people living in an anguishing kafkian nightmare.