An innocent man has nothing to fear, remember that.
"Tis strange, but true; for truth is always strange…" goes the old saying that is conjured to my mind when reflecting on The Wrong Man. "Art imitates life" springs to mind too and often it doesn't have to try very hard! For good measure I may as well throw in a third quote (perhaps I can just quote my way out of this first paragraph?!) from Hitchcock himself of course… "What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out."
"This is Alfred Hitchcock speaking. In the past, I have given you many kinds of suspense pictures. But this time, I would like you to see a different one. The difference lies in the fact that this is a true story, every word of it. And yet it contains elements that are stranger than all the fiction that has gone into many of the thrillers that I've made before." And so begins the movie…
In fact, thanks to Hitchcock's early and rare appearance in this way, introducing the film so formerly to the audience, I let my guard down and completely missed his 'real' cameo all of 10 minutes or so later in the cafe when Manny (Henry Fonda) is placing imaginary bets on the horses! Sneaky!!
This film is based on the truth and, not a little bit ironically, all about the pursuit of it! In many ways, truth is the villain of this movie, it evades us and deceives us. We know Manny is innocent, we want his wife Rose (Vera Miles) to believe it too, the film nearly destroys her (remember, this actually happened!) but even we have to admit that the evidence stacking up against Manny is pretty shitty (pardon my French) and he may just have to bite the bullet, wear the cap (it certainly fits!) and do the time.
If truth is the villain then the general public is it's stupid sidekick! Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers, they say, but maybe that's too cruel… they aren't really idiots, we do get to see the real perpetrator towards the end of the movie and he does look a little bit like Manny, but not really identical. Side by side you can see the differences clearly, but when your relying on a memory… well it just makes you realise how easy it is to make mistakes!
All in all another quality piece of story-telling and film-making. Even if it is the truth… that's not cheating, right?