The System

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The official story is that Hitchcock, under contract to Paramount, somehow felt that he hadn’t given Warner Bros full satisfaction during his time there, and made THE WRONG MAN for them for free as a sort of parting gift. I have a hard time swallowing that. If Hitch worked for nothing, it must have been because he really wanted to make the film, and he made it at Warners because the story, a true crime narrative “torn from the headlines,” was their property. Fortunately, he was able to take his team with him, including Bernard Herrmann and Robert Burks, as well as Vera Miles, whom he had used on TV and was grooming for stardom.

Sidebar — the episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents starring Miles, a grim little number called Revenge, also featuring the mighty Ralph Meeker, is a plainly-told little masterpiece of horror, serving as an illustration of the old adage, “He who seeks revenge should first dig two graves.” In both Revenge and THE WRONG MAN, Vera Miles suffers a breakdown, presented in a harrowing but realistic and un-showy fashion. But ultimately Revenge is a yarn, what Hitch called “an old-fashioned plot,” even if it ends in such a dark place that Hitch, appearing at the end to sum up, is forced to drop all his lugubrious jocularity and more or less apologise for subjecting us to this ordeal.

Hitch shot, but did not use, a cameo appearance for THE WRONG MAN, electing instead to introduce it personally, something he had just started doing on TV. But the High Expressionism of Robert Burks opening frame prepares us for a very different kind of Hitch — the shadow that elongates towards us is quite different from the chubby profile on NBC — and this has a more powerful effect than what Hitch is telling us: his lines about this being a very different kind of suspense thriller seem more like a showman’s come-on than adequate warning of the Bressonian blackjack we’re about to get slugged with.

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In THE WRONG MAN, Miles’s depression is triggered by her husband’s arrest for a series of neighbourhood stick-ups (he bears a chance resemblance to the real criminal). Fate conspires to rob him of a demonstrable alibi, and a chain of circumstantial evidence sends him clanking through the machinery of the justice system like an animal on its way to slaughter. The narrative proceeds with the deliberate, chilling pace of a conveyor belt. When Hitch films the police van conveying Fonda to court, it’s under a vast iron bridge, the world cut into mechanical pieces by the shadows of the girders. It suggests prison bars, but even more it calls to mind some vast unfeeling apparatus — and this is the film’s subject.

Fonda’s arrest is notably Kafkaesque: the cops drive him from one neighbourhood store to another, instructing him to enter, alone, walk the length of the store, and then exit. He does so, his perplexity and fear stamping him as suspicious from the moment he appears.

The cops are at once decent, unsensationalized professionals, and immensely cruel. Hitch does not criticize the authorities in anything anyone says, but we notice that Fonda doesn’t get his phone call, isn’t read his rights, and is deliberately thrown off-balance by the detectives, who obviously hope to make him crack. Fonda is such a good citizen that he goes meekly with them from his own doorstep, rather than insisting on telling his wife what’s happened (he hasn’t been formally arrested yet, so there’s nothing official to stop him doing as he pleases).

Hitch apparently found the real-life Manny Balestrero rather undramatic as a character — the man could not express to Hitch what his experiences felt like. I can see how in reality this would have made Balestrero’s plight worse: an inexpressive, emotionally inarticulate man would have had trouble both convincing the cops of his innocence, and reassuring his worried wife. It hardly matters in the movie — Hitch is recreating his own primal scene in its purest form — the terror of inexplicable arrest by the authorities. (Supermodel Jinks Falkenberg and her husband once pranked Hitch by sending a cop to ask for him — never mess with peoples’ phobias! This shit is serious.)

To solve the problem of dramatizing an undramatic man, Hitch worked with semi-regular collaborator Angus MacPhail (perhaps the originator of the term “MacGuffin”) and famed playwright Maxwell Anderson. The low-key but quietly passionate character devised for Fonda suits his performance style perfectly. And Hitch had always wanted to work with Fonda, I think he’s one of the few stars mentioned in Hitch’s 1930s essay, written upon his departure for Hollywood, that he actually got to direct. Gary Cooper and William Powell always eluded him.

bmailFirst arrest: 1929.

We’ve seen the arrest procedure before, in BLACKMAIL. But there, the hero was a cop and the suspect a thuggish career criminal, well-used to imprisonment. In Hitch’s original ending, we would have seen the process repeated with heroine Anny Ondra, which would have been powerful stuff. But being thrown into the strange rituals of confinement and judgement, seeing it through the eyes of our blameless hero (loving husband, brilliant father), with the most insistent use of extreme POV shots in all Hitchcock, that’s something else.

A witness places her hand on Fonda’s shoulder to identify him, and we see the shoulder as if from Fonda’s own eyes.

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As the cops drive Fonda around, we see his POV looking past each of them in turn, left, right, straight ahead, as the free world speeds past, unreachable, outside. Amusingly, this sequence was ripped off with perfect precision by Freddie Francis in THE SKULL: substitute Peter Cushing for Henry Fonda. Of course the effect is different: context is everything in the Hitchcock. The fear we feel (and this film is more genuinely uncomfortable and frightening than anything Hitch had made to date) is all to do with where we are in the story and how we feel about the characters.

In his little cell, Fonda looks around, and we get a succession of banal objects: a wash-basin; the corner of the ceiling — and the simplicity and solidity of everything is hellishly oppressive. Hitch then produces one of his few outright flourishes, a spinning camera that causes Fonda’s head to gyrate giddily about the frame: things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.

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Some, like official biographer John Russell Taylor, have remarked on the incongruity of Hitch, who declared “Some make slices of life; I make slices of cake,” doing a substantially location-set (the real Stork Club), documentarist piece of social realism. But there’s nothing incongruous about the experience of watching the film, since it all works so well. The few obvious directorial flourishes are well-chosen and are complimented by a wealth of intelligent detail that doesn’t draw attention to itself. And the whole thing aims at a psychological effect rather than a social one. If Hitch uses a real place or a convincing replica, he does it not to show us what something looks like, but to inflict upon us the emotional impact of the real thing. And it’s all focussed through the central character, who acts as a kind of lens for Hitch’s personal terror, which is thus beamed into the viewer at concentrated strength.

Balestrero’s job as bull fiddle player motivates the jazz-inflected score, which uses sparse instrumentation to create memorable soundscapes of slow anxiety. As always with Hitch, there’s some kind of motif at work, something woven into the narrative, although here it’s a lot more elusive than the two compositions that play key plot roles in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. When we first see Vera Miles with her husband, she says, “Sometimes I’m so frightened waiting for you to come home at night,” — and this is the first hint we get that she is more than normally insecure. The moment is underscored by a series of soft chimes, played on a triangle, which come out of nowhere and initially suggest a carriage clock or a musical doorbell, something diegetic, but are then joined by the double bass and sax. The chimes return later, only once, when Miles loses her mind and strikes her husband with a hairbrush. She retreats to a distant chair and murmurs, “It’s true, Manny, there is something wrong with me. You’ll have to let them put me somewhere.”

Ting. Ting. Ting. Ting.

The effect is chilling because it happens so utterly on cue and thus suddenly seems mechanical — this happens, so you hear this sound — part of the overall impersonal forces pushing Manny towards imprisonment and destruction.

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Fiona: “Was this film a terrible flop?”

Me: “It sure was.”

Nevertheless it’s profoundly impressive.

As hairy script guru Phil Parker is always saying, injustice is such a powerful event in our lives from childhood on (“When a child says, ‘This isn’t fair!’ the child can be trusted.” ~ A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS) that it makes a powerful narrative hook. Hitch’s previous nightmare scenarios don’t exploit this as fully as TWM, because in the chase film the unjust suspicions of the authorities are mainly a spur for the character and plot, driving us along to the next situation and preventing the interference of reinforcements. In THE WRONG MAN we get Hitchcock with the mask of entertainer removed, and the story is this: even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayer at night may be crushed by the impersonal forces of the world he lives in.

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When Fonda prays, and the real culprit appears before us and is apprehended by heroic storekeepers (how we cheer these plucky citizens!), Hitch pulls off a remarkable coup, foregrounding his Catholicism via a magnificent lengthy dissolve that literally supplants Fonda’s face with that of the actual stick-up artist (this is Hitch’s most Bergmanesque movie!) It’s presented as a miracle, and the beauty of the transition reinforces that. but, unbearably, when Fonda goes to tell Miles that he’s finally a free man, she’s too sunk in depression for it to mean anything. “I was hoping for a miracle,” admits Fonda, ruefully. He’s already had one.

Mental illness, by the way, is something movies nearly always get wrong, if what you’re looking for is either clinical accuracy or emotional insight. There are valid approaches to any subject that are not realistic ones, but most movies have a hard time being even truthful here, and too often demonize the mentally ill in a way that would be considered unacceptable with any other minority. So I applaud THE WRONG MAN’s portrayal of a mostly quiet, desperate slide into confusion and misery, which feels absolutely authentic and beautifully observed. Hitchcock filmed in a real psychiatric hospital with real staff (a rather nice-looking one) and, although the doctor’s description of Miles’ complaint is overly poetic and general, it’s not the dollar-book Freud of PSYCHO.

THE WRONG MAN is a tough watch — maybe the only Hitchcock film to attain this status through strengths rather than weaknesses. It’s intended to be hard on the viewer. All that stuff about it being Hitchcock’s most Catholic film — possibly true, but not an observation that’s necessary to in some way justify the film’s existence, which it sometimes seems to be used for. All that stuff about the oddness of Hitch doing realism — this is psychological realism. This is pure Hitchcock. And it’s a stone-cold masterpiece.

wrong8Mr Right Meets Mr Wrong.

UK buyers: Hitchcock DVD Collection – Dial M For Murder / I Confess / Stage Fright / The Wrong Man / Strangers On A Train / North By Northwest

US buyers: TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Hitchcock Thrillers (Suspicion / Strangers on a Train / The Wrong Man / I Confess)

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32 Responses to “The System”

  1. david wingrove Says:

    THE WRONG MAN bored me silly years ago and I’ve never felt tempted to re-watch it. I think that was partly due to Henry Fonda – surely one of the dreariest and dullest individuals ever to step in front of a camera!

    However, I really do need to give it another try. Surely it can’t be as bad as TORN CURTAIN…or can it?

  2. I have to admit, I had the same reaction as David W. to this one. I’ve since seen lots of analyses of the film and its effect — of which this essay is probably the most impressive and convincing I’ve seen — but it’s hard to get past that initial reaction of boredom and disinterest. In a way, in praising the film you point out what I dislike about it: its mechanical nature, its schematicism, which is always present in Hitch but is usually glossed with layers of artifice. Here, with the artifice stripped away, I don’t find it as satisfying as Hitch’s more characteristic slices of cake. Still, I should revisit this one eventually.

  3. THE WRONG MAN was a film I found really hard when I first saw it. I only appreciate it on repeated viewings. Chris Fujiwara put the film in perspective when he noted that the usual proverb goes “commit a crime and the world is made of glass. This film says be accused of a crime and the world is made of glass.” The film’s emphasis on payment of bills, getting insurance(it’s to get his wife’s teeth fixed that he takes the insurance which leads to the fatal visit to the bank) is really uncommon in American cinema. It’s a film about money in the cold everyday sense. (PSYCHO is too, in the first half).

    Vera Miles is beyond amazing in the role. Comparable to Ingrid Bergman in her films with Rossellini.

    Jean-Luc Godard wrote the longest piece of his career in reaction to this film. And he compared the Catholicism to Graham Greene, Dostoevsky(though not a Catholic) and noted in relation to the ending that Hitchcock along with Dreyer were the only film-makers who knew how to film miracles. What does that mean, I don’t know?

  4. a masterpiece indeed–with a narrative switch (segueing from Fonda’s physical predicament to Miles’ psychological trauma–which can never be atoned for) that is far more interesting than PSYCHO’s

  5. The financial anxiety in the movie reminds me of Bigger Than Life, which is ALL ABOUT MONEY. And it fits with Hitch’s deep-seated need to become rich, which brought him to Hollywood and pushed him to become famous.

    The film’s opening is deliberately slow and drab — you would need to REALLY be interested in the Stork Club to find it particularly engaging, but that’s part of the plan. Fonda’s dryness is right for this film (I also like him as a drip opposite Stanwyck in The Mad Miss Manton and the Lady Eve) and in dismissing him as dull I think one runs the risk of missing that aura of gloom he carries, which one may or may not respond to but it’s certainly unusual in a leading man.

    Hitch’s filming of the miracle via lap dissolve is terrific. I’d say Pasolini is good at miracles too.

  6. Henry Fonda’s aura of doom can also be seen in his most popular role as Tom Joad in THE GRAPES OF WRATH and in Lang’s YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. THE WRONG MAN makes three. Only his horror as brutal and dehumanizing as it is is nothing compared to what Vera Miles goes through. And the main reason for that anguish, not including the financial problems and loss of social status is the fact that she deeply loves him and can’t live without him and that’s what makes her unstable.

  7. I love Mad Miss Manton! (everyone loves Lady Eve, of course)

    I don’t always enjoy Fonda, but he turned in some gems… I’m especially partial to Litvak’s generally-derided The Long Night (which beautifully resituates Le Jour Se Leve in the Rust Belt, and gives amazing roles to Fonda, Dvorak and Vincent Price), in Lang’s You Only Live Once and in Preminger’s Daisy Kenyon

    sullen types all around

    and you get comedy + sullenness in The Male Animal, which has a lot of problems, frankly, but is indispensable as a premonition of the blacklist

  8. Someone like RD Laing might argue that her fear of losing Fonda causes her to withdraw to a place where “It doesn’t matter.” But what I like is how the film doesn’t really explain. She’s a bit insecure at the start, and then the illness is just something that happens, probably triggered by the stress of the trial but not ultimately accountable. And that’s truthful.

  9. agreed Arthur–Vera Miles delivers one of the great performances of 50s cinema in this film

  10. Mad Miss M doesn’t get the praise it deserves. Probably because there’s no auteurist way to place it (Leigh Jason’s other Stanwyck movie is a bit of a yawn). But what a delight it is.

    Never seen The Male Animal, would like to.

  11. The Wrong Man jas always had a specil place in my gut, because I lived in Flushing Queens, took that subway every day to the city, and was well aware of the true story on which the film is based.

    Even now The Wrong Man functions as a petit madelaine for me.

    It’s quite a tough piece of work. A closing credit tells us that Manny’s wife eventually found peace but Hitch leaves us with her in the deepest pit of depressive psychosis a “mainstream” film has ever thrust its audience into.

    Yes this is Hitch’s closest approach to Bresson — something not lost on the Cahiers crowd. I often wonder waht Bresson thought of it. He claimed never to go to the moveis, but he was of course lying. he went all the time — even to tenth-rate Kung-fu epics.

  12. Truffaut initially called the film Hitchcock’s best in his piece though in his interviews he tentatively agreed with Hitchcock’s self-assessment that he didn’t achieve it totally.(Although LA PEAU DOUCE by Truffaut hijacks the approach taken by this film to minutely detail a banal adultery, the result is one of his best).

    Initially the film was to have ended in the hospital room but during post-production, the real wife got out of it and left the hospital(the final shot are all stand-ins and I believe shot by a second-unit). I wonder if either of the real people are still alive. THE WRONG MAN DVD extras don’t mention them nor do they feature them. Hitchcock suggested to Bogdanovich cryptically that the real guy’s relations weren’t all that sympathetic after his arrest and he may not have been Mr. Nice Guy. Of course it can be argued that Fonda’s kindness and decency only makes what happen to him all the more terrible since he can’t blame anyone not himself, not wife, not the police(who are so conveniently “doing their job”) and not even the real crook.

    Godard’s piece ends with an unusual defence of the film’s ending. He talks about the ending where Manny talks to the nurse and says “I was hoping for a miracle” and the nurse says, “Miracles do happen, you just have to know how to wait.” And then Godard cites the last shot and ends “Draw your conclusion”. Re-reading the piece, Godard doesn’t compare Hitch and Dreyer in this piece but apparently said it in Histoires du Cinema. The reference I think is to the ending of ORDET where the woman returns to life to her husband’s arms and as the husband says that he now has her faith she asks what has happened to the baby(who died) and the film ends with a carnal embrace.

    Bresson also loved James Bond and his PICKPOCKET is supposedly inspired by PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET although it’s much closer to THE WRONG MAN(whose prison scenes are a lot like A MAN ESCAPES in the tight framing…maybe Hitchcock saw it, he was a serious movie buff).

  13. I recently saw and admired the Coen Brothers’ A SERIOUS MAN, a modernized adaptation of The Book of Job. THE WRONG MAN remains the supreme filmic adaptation of Job, with the same underlying metaphysical questions. (Why does a good man suffer?)

    Much of THE WRONG MAN is foreshadowed in John Brahm’s LET US LIVE (1939) which also stars Fonda and has a similarly downbeat ending. See http://blog.brightlightsfilm.com/2008/02/overlooked-noir-john-brahm-and-let-us.html

  14. I’ve been meaning to pick up the Brahm for ages.

    Suspicion also ends with two stand-ins departing the scene. I had a false memory that the last shot showed the real people. And who knows, maybe it does, standing in for Fonda and Miles. That would be cute.

    I wonder if the phrase “petit madeleine” is the reason for Madeleine’s name in Vertigo. Seems to make sense, given her nature.

  15. I’ve always loved The Wrong Man, but I’m a Fonda fan in general.

    Off topic a wee bit, but there’s good news on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents front. After taking 2008 off, Universal is resuming DVD releases with Season 4, which comes out in November. Hurray!

  16. Excellent. I just enjoyed a couple of rare Hitch TV shows, Four O’Clock (from a Woolrich source) and Incident on a Corner, which was freaking fantastic.

  17. Christopher Says:

    this is why I’m afraid of the Police….y’ain’t taken me on no Kafkaesque car ride Copper!…lol..I thought about The Skull when I watched this a couple of months ago..I’m not crazy about this film .but i like it better than I Confess.if i just gotta

  18. I first saw “Wrong Man” on television with my parents, and one of my particular memories is of a gasp at a shot that you don’t mention: Fonda’s bloodshot eyes, seen through the peephole in a cell door. “So it’s come to this!”, the shot seemed to exclaim.

    One mustn’t forget, btw, that co-scenarist Anderson is the man who wrote ’30s urban gangster tale “Winterset.”

    When I took a class on Hitchcock taught by David E’s classmate Tim Hunter, I remember Hunter mentioning that the final “upbeat” shot of the happy family was shot by someone other than Hitchcock and then imposed on the film. Think that’s true?

    As for Proustian names … there’s always Madeleine’s husband, Gavin Elster, who’s not so far from MP’s “Elstir.”

  19. Here I turn to Bill Krohn’s Hitchcock at Work. In order to maintain complete authenticity, Hitch added the release from hospital epilogue when Mrs Balestrero got out during production. He hired an independent outfit to shoot it as second unit in Florida. So it was imposed by the facts, rather than the studio. I’m certainly glad it happened, for the characters’ sakes, and because it adds some relief to an unrelenting film. I’m fairly certain Mrs B was suffering from acute depression, which is something people DO get better from in time, allowing for favourable circumstances.

  20. Another great early Fonda performance is The Big Street. It’s based on Damon Runyon stories. In fact the great Eugene Pallette plays “Nicely-Nicely Johnson” in it — years befor that character’s musicalization by Frank Loesser in the personnage of Stubby Kaye. The story is about a busboy named “Little Pinks” (Fonda) in thrall to visciously sef-centered showgirl (Lucille Ball) thatlooks forward to Midnight Cowboy in its last half as “Little Pinks” takes “The Countess” to Florida to see the Bigtiem Swell she imagines is in love with her, pushing her in a wheelchair all the way. “The Countess” lost the use of her “pins” when her evil gangster boyfriend Barton MacLaine pushed her down a flight of stairs. She never really recovered and in the film’s grand finale realizes that “Little Pinks” is the only man who ever lover her as he carries her lifeless body UP a flight of stairs.

    Totally devestating.

    It was a flop in its time, and you can easily see why. It’s just too real, in its’ own totally unreal way. Lucy gives a performance the likes of which can only be comapred to Maria Casares in Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne.

    Interestingly she didn’t get along with Fonda at all. He was forced by the studio to make the film, and he considered working with a B player like Ball to be a step down in his career.

  21. Pulled out my DVD of THE WRONG MAN last night, got through about 40 minutes before I went to bed, I’ll be watching the rest today. A very disturbing film, to watch everyone (the cops, the office workers at the insurance company) identify and accuse Manny with such unwavering certainty, when in fact all of them are WRONG. Manny stating to the cops that he doesn’t drink as he’s getting ready to walk through the liquor store… he’s an atypical sort of jazz musician, doesn’t smoke muggles or stay up all night jamming with other players (unlike Cliff March in PHANTOM LADY). I actually got pissed watching him being put through the motions, all the time being denied his phone call to the wife, the dismissive cops single-mindedly going on about their business while Mrs. Balustrero is left twisting in the wind anxiously wondering where her husband is. Bernard Hermann’s music is effectively understated in adding to the unease we feel while watching things unfold (unravel). This film calls to mind CALLING NORTHSIDE 777, where Jimmy Stewart’s newspaperman strives mightily to prove prison inmate Richard Conte’s innocence. Although here there is no one acting in Manny’s behalf, he’s pretty much left out in the cold as random forces overtake and overwhelm him.

  22. In part 2, a lot of nice people come to Fonda’s aid — and it doesn’t help.

    The shot Chris mentions is spectacular and I was remiss to skip it. The camera flies out through the tiny Judas window in Fonda’s cell door. A moment later it swoops back in again. The first time I was convinced it had to be a special effect. The second time it seemed utterly real. One of the finest trick shots in all Hitchcock.

    In I Saw the Whole Thing and Incident at a Street Corner, two TV productions, Hitch again deals with faulty witnesses who “know” what they “saw.” It seems like a real concern of his, naturally enough for a filmmaker used to tricking the viewer, and a policophobe.

  23. Am chasing up The Big Street NOW.

  24. bart versteirt Says:

    Henry Fonda’s aura of doom is also used to great effect in Wyler’s JEZEBEL, especially opposite Bette Davis’ wicked southern belle.

    For those of you who might stumble upon Brussels in the next two months: Cinematek – the former Cinémathèque Royal de Belgique – is hosting a complete retrospective of Hitch’s oeuvre.

  25. What a fitting climax to Hitchcock Year! I should really go.

    Wyler and Fonda shared an ex-wife, Margaret Sullivan, or “that crazy broad,” as Wyler called her. And he was sleeping with Bette at that time, all of which may have led to some awkwardness with Fonda, but they seem to have gotten on better than was usually the case with Wyler and his stars.

  26. Anthony Quayle’s lawyer is the first benign figure to appear in the film on their behalf. A short while later we briefly meet the psychiatrist, who comes up with a pretty perceptive assessment of the wife’s looming sickness. Of course, by this time Mannie’s wife is already caught in a downward spiral.
    When I was in college a friend and I had a running joke, if we saw someone who closely resembled someone we knew we’d refer to them as so-and-so’s “botched clone”, as if our friend was the original, and the look-alike was a flawed knock-off. Well, that was what happened to Henry/Mannie, he suffered the misfortune of being mistaken for his botched clone.
    Seriously though, this film is unique in comparison to most all other Hitchcock films insofar as it’s less stylized “entertainment” (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and rather more restrained and documentary-like in look and tone.

  27. Major Major is described in Catch 22 as having a sickly resemblance to Henry Fonda. You can see what’s meant — there’s already a rather pallid aspect to Hank.

    I’d say the stylization is understated, but it’s crucial that it’s still there. We’re inside Manny’s head the same way we’re inside Scottie’s in Vertigo (and both Anderson and MacPhail worked on Vertigo), it’s just that Manny is a lot more stable than Manny so the film behaves differently.

    In the Truffaut book, FT analyses the film as social realism and can’t make sense of it, because he’s got the wrong angle altogether. It’s psychological realism, only with more naturalistic surfaces than usual.

  28. david wingrove Says:

    Sorry, but I’m only convinced by Henry Fonda when other, more talented performers carry the film for him…Bette Davis in JEZEBEL, Vincent Price and the glorious Ann Dvorak in THE LONG NIGHT.

    My God, even Anita Ekberg acts him off the screen in the King Vidor WAR AND PEACE. As far as I can see, the man was just a walking yawn!

  29. But isn’t there a difference between “interested” and “convinced”? I’ve often found him uninteresting, never unconvincing. And we haven’t yet mentioned his turn in Once Upon a Time in the West, where he plays a monster without really adjusting his schtick at all.

    If The Wrong Man had done well, it’s easy to imagine Fonda taking the lead in Vertigo, where his lugubrious side could have found natural expression. But I’m very glad it’s Stewart, since that is even more surprising.

    I suspect you just don’t respond to archetypes of “American decency”, David! And I suspect you’ll be glad that’s the case!

  30. Working my way forward, but a brief note sent into the past:

    ‘we notice that Fonda doesn’t get his phone call, isn’t read his rights…’

    Fonda doesn’t get read his rights in the film because police weren’t required to read people their rights, in America at least, until 1966. Your point is taken, but that particular aspect of our legal system didn’t exist at this point.

  31. Thanks for the lovely stroll through your archives!

  32. Thanks! Always glad to get more info, corrections, etc. Glad you’re having a good time here — your comment made me reread my original post, which I’m ashamed to say I enjoyed immensely!

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