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File:Annex - Fonda Henry Wrong Man The 02 7638.jpg

The Wrong Man is a 1956 film, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is based on an actual legal case of 1953, as covered on the The True Story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero by Maxwell Anderson and on an article by Herbert Brean.

Christopher Emmanuel "Manny" Balestrero (Henry Fonda) works as a musician in the Stork Club, a then-famous nightclub of New York City. (The Stork Club was active from 1929 to 1965). His wife Rose (Vera Miles) needs some dental work and Manny attempts to convince her insurance company to cover the medical expenses. Once he steps into their office, Manny finds himself accused of robbery. He is apparently a look-alike of an armed robber who has visited the office twice already. Several witnesses are willing to testify against him on trial.

His lawyer Frank O'Connor (Anthony Quayle) decides to build the defense by proving that it is based on mistaken identity. Fortunately for the Balestreros, they were away on vacation at the time of the first robbery. Unfortunately for them, people who could testify on that are either dead or hard to locate. Rose slowly descends into depression to the point where she is institutionalized. While Manny is eventually found innocent, Rose remains in an apathetic state.

In real life, the Balestreros went on to obscurity. But O'Connor became famous for this case and used it to relaunch his failing political career. He served as a New York State Senator in 1955, Queens County District Attorney (served 1956-1965), New York City Council President (1966-1968), and a justice of the New York Supreme Court (1969-1986). He died in 1992, due to an accidental fall from a flight of stairs.


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