This film is clearly Hitchcock projecting his real-life fear of the police onto the screen. This does mean you get some unnecessarily long sequences of legal procedure, as well as a hammered-in central point. But, mostly, Hitchcock utilizes the real-life story to create a rare suspense film of shocking, utter believability. Overall, its heavy-handedness is overshadowed by its realism and modern relevance.
VERA MILES: Implosion 2 - Like VERTIGO, this film changes focus midway, but in contrast to Stewart's increasing neurosis, here Fonda watches helplessly as his wife slowly fades away. Unlike the conventional use of histrionics to depict breakdown, she just starts to shut down. It's further proof of Hitchcock's discernment that he was deeply impressed with this actress. She would have made VERTIGO even greater.
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.