How interesting criminal trials really are to many of us? Whether it's solving a murder, overcoming oppression or bringing people to justice, the courtroom is the perfect place for audiences to grab themselves a hefty chunk of drama. Here are some of the excellent fictional (and some non-fictional) trials on film.
Based on a true story, The Wrong Man was Alfred Hitchcock's second attempt at a courtroom set drama, after his first – The Paradine Case (1949) – was not well received.
The plot starts with Manny Balestrero (Henry Fonda), a low-paid club musician, trying to borrow against his wife's insurance policy to pay for her much needed dental work. Here he is mistakenly identified as an armed robber who has previously held up the insurance office twice before. A series of events, including being identified by witnesses, leads to Manny's prosecution. At the subsequent trial his defence is crushed, but is later ruled as a mistrial due to the comment of a jury member.
The real power of The Wrong Man is not the sensation of the unfortunate, coincidental evidence, but the impact that such a mistake has on a family. Throughout the course of trial Manny's wife, (Vera Miles), cannot cope with the devastating evidence against her husband and is subsequently institutionalised. The fact that the story is based on reality highlights the potential horror that a case of mistaken identity can have, a fear that is prevalent in some many of Hitchcock's movies – his deepest fear.