hitchcock’s most emotionally moving film. just a couple days ago (11/22) i was discussing the relative merits of hitchcock – he said hitch was the greatest of all-time and i contended that he was certainly great, but not the greatest. i prefer kubrick’s big three (paths of glory, killing and dr. strangelove) to anything hitchcock has ever done; i prefer kurosawa’s storytelling and personal philosophy to hitchcock’s work; john ford and orson welles were probably better technicians than hitchcock; griffith did more for film than hitchcock….etc. my major point during the discussion was that hitchcock’s films rarely, if ever, moved me the way that p.t. anderson does in every film of his, or the way that kubrick does, or the way that kurosawa does. sure hitchcock is an entertaining director and his longevity is nearly unmatched, and he worked in television as well as in film, but his films never really captured my heart. the wrong man, though, did that. as many great leading men as hitchcock has had during his career, none of them has made the emotional impact that fonda did in this film. it’s a simple story of mistaken identity and fonda plays the everyman who gets caught up in a series of unfortunate breaks. it still has the hitchcock signature, but it’s not a prototypical hitchcock film. i’m beginning to see that what i thought was the typical hitchcock film, isn’t really all that typical – especially of his earlier films. i guess that i knew him most for his 50s and 60s pictures; the big stuff like birds, strangers on a train, psycho, north by northwest, vertigo, and rear window.
hitchcock doesn’t play games with this film, there’s no artifice, no cameo, no jokes; in this way it’s rather un-hitchcockean. however he does impart to the viewer fonda’s sense of paranoia and claustrophobia in a typical hitchcockean way. also, when we see the real criminal for the first time there is a classic double exposure overlay that hitchcock uses to make the point. in these ways we see hitch being himself, but in a different suit, as it were. it’s not an amazing technical film, but in a way it’s hitchcock’s most human, and that’s why i liked it so much.