Tuesday, September 23, 2014

'Wrong man' of Hitch film to be feted

Henry Fonda as Manny Balestrero in 'The Wrong Man'
The man who inspired the Alfred Hitchcock suspense film “The Wrong Man” will have a street co-named for him in the neighborhood that served as the backdrop for the classic 1956 flick. Manny Balestrero, an Elmhurst father, husband and musician who was cast into the spotlight after he was falsely accused of a robbery in 1953, will be honored with Manny “The Wrong Man” Balestrero Way at 73rd Street and 41st Avenue. According to Balestrero’s youngest son Greg, the renaming on Saturday, Sept. 27 is a great honor, and will serve to further exonerate him from the decades-old crime.
This is pretty interesting. I saw The Wrong Man a few years ago, and I was pretty impressed to see that Alfred Hitchcock shot it in Jackson Heights - not that I recognized a great deal of the neighborhood. Hitchcock first read about Manny Balestrero in Life, and knew right away he wanted to turn his story into a movie. When I wrote about the film, I noted that it doesn't feel like the Master's usual films, and indeed, this was deliberate on his part. For you trivia buffs, Hitch's traditional cameo appearance here was as an introduction to the audience at the beginning, and it's the only time he speaks in any of his films.

Councilman Daniel Dromm is responsible for this act of honoring Balestrero. I've written about him before; he's a good guy and a positive force for the community here in Queens.

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