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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Wrong Man (Blu-ray)
The Wrong Man (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // Unrated // January 26, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $21.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted February 2, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

Based on the true life story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero (Manny to his friends), Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 film The Wrong Man sees the director going against the grain, at least compared to most of his other pictures. Not only was the script grounded in the real world, but so too is much of the way that the movie is put together. Shot mostly on location in Queens and parts of Brooklyn, the black and white cinematography isn't flashy nor is it glossy, but it does pull you into the story in a big way and help to keep things remarkably grounded.

The film stars Henry Fonda in the lead role of Manny Balestrero, a professional musician who makes a living playing bass at the prestigious Stork Club in Manhattan, owned and operated by former bootlegger Sherman Billingsly (who plays himself in the picture). Manny isn't a wealthy man but he does what he can to support his wife Rose (Vera Miles) and their two sons. When Rose needs to have her wisdom teeth pulled, they just flat out do not have the three hundred bucks it's going to cost to get that taken care of. Manny tries to borrow from his life insurance company against Rose's policy but when he goes to do that, he's fingered by the employees as the same man who just knocked them over not once, but twice! The cops are called and they come and book him.

Manny, however, is not told why he's been brought in. The cops put him through some odd steps: they make him walk in and out of a few other locations that were recently robbed and they make him submit a hand writing sample. The idea here is to get a positive ID on him and to tie him into a ransom note. When Manny makes the same spelling mistake on his hand writing sample that the cops saw on the note, they put him in a police lineup where an insurance company employee says he's the one. Manny is arrested.

Brought in to serve as his defense attorney is Frank O'Connor (Anthony Quayle). He knows that Manny was on vacation when the fist robbery took place and they set out to find some of the people they met during that vacation in hopes of proving his alibi. It doesn't work and Rose's health starts to fail under the stress and a deep depression sets in. Manny goes to trial… but will he be clear of the crime he didn't commit or arraigned for a robbery he had no part in?

Locations are huge in this movie. The actual Stork Club served as the Stock Club seen early in the film and the different Queens and Brooklyn locations go a long way towards giving the film an authenticity that really helps make it all the more believable. The parts of the film that are shot in Jackson Heights in particular are great to see as it's not a neighborhood in New York City that's filmed as often as some others. The same can be said to the scenes shot around Court Square. This gives the movie a lot of character, and the rather stoic camerawork used to capture it all, which occasionally does employ a certain documentary feel, further advances Hitchcock's intent to play things completely straight in this picture (and as he tells us, in the opening prologue, that the story we're about to see is true it's clear that this was what he was aiming for).

Performances are strong here. Anthony Quayle is very good as Manny's lawyer, his noble intentions come across well and he plays the part with a slick professionalism. Vera Miles is great as Manny's wife, she's very sympathetic and once her depression sets in, you can't help but feel for the woman as she seems to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. Supporting work from Harold Stone and Charles Cooper as a couple of NYPD officers are quite good and an uncredited cameo from a young Harry Dean Stanton! Not surprisingly though, it's Henry Fonda who does most of the heavy lifting in front of the camera. As Manny he's clearly under a lot of stress, even before he's brought in and accused of the crimes he had no part in. The supporting cast all do just that, they support Fonda, while his turn in the lead pulls us in not only because it is impressive in its dramatic weight but so too because he's entirely believable as this character.

The Blu-ray:


Warner Archive's AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer presents The Wrong Man framed at 1.77.1 widescreen aspect ratio and by and large it looks excellent. The black and white image shows plenty of nice, natural film grain but this all works in the film's favor, it helps create that right atmosphere for the story. Black levels are nice and strong and detail is impressive throughout. There are no issues with any noise reduction or edge enhancement, and just overall looking very much like film, just the way that it should be. Texture is also quite good and contrast looks great. There's a nice, strong bit rate here and as such there are no noticeable compression artifacts. The restored work done here ensures that the picture is very clean, and despite the strong grain, there's very little in the way of actual print damage. It's quite impressive looking and a very nice upgrade over the older DVD release.


The main audio track on this disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track. The audio here is fine. This isn't a particularly complex track but the dialogue is always crystal clear and balanced nicely against the score, which sounds really good here. The mix, for an older single channel track, sounds quite full. Alternate audio options are provided in French, and Spanish (Latin and Castillian) Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with removable subtitles offered in English, French, Spanish (Latin and Castillian), Czech and Polish.


The main extra on the disc is Guilt Trip: Hitchcock And The Wrong Man, which is a twenty minute featurette put together by Laurent Bouzereau. Here we get some insight from the film's production designer, Paul Sylbert, as well as some interesting critical analysis and observations from Hitchcock experts like Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Schiekel and Robert Osbourne. This originally appeared on the DVD release of the film but it's an interesting piece and those who haven't seen it will appreciate its inclusion here.

Aside from menus and chapter selection, the Blu-ray also includes the film's original theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts:

The Wrong Man remains a bit of an odd duck in Hitchcock's filmography but it's not less worthy of a revisit than most of his other pictures. The more grounded approach to cinematic realism employed by way of the location shooting keeps things effectively gritty and the performances are strong across the board. Warner Archive hasn't added anything new in terms of supplements compared to the older DVD release but they sure did give it a nice upgrade in the audio and video departments, this transfer is excellent. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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