Nothing To Fear: Alfred Hitchcock and the Wrong Men

Fayetteville Mafia. Jan. 2023. 250p. ISBN 9781949024425. pap. $24.99. FILM
Isralowitz, a lawyer, presents this book as a blend of criminal justice and film commentary, but its true focus is a history of egregious errors in the New York City legal system that frequently put innocent men in jail from the 1930s to the 1950s. Isralowitz shares compelling incidents of mistaken identity, all building to his main subject, Manny Balestrero, who was falsely accused of armed robbery in 1953. His initial trial ended in a mistrial due to a juror’s outburst, and before his second trial began, the real culprit was found. Manny was never imprisoned, though his wife spent two years in a facility for patients in need of treatment for mental health. Balestrero’s story became The Wrong Man, a rarity among Hitchcock films in that it was based on a true story. It stuck so close to the facts that critics felt it was devoid of the usual Hitchcock magic. The author’s dissection of the film is well-researched. He skillfully interpolates behind-the-scenes stories with facts from the case and documents the devastation a false arrest can inflict on families.
VERDICT Come for the Hitchcock, stay for the history. Fascinating.
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