- Alternative Character Interpretation:
- Manny Balestrero is an Italian-American in an era where said ethnicity would have invited prejudice from WASP society. As such the mistaken identity Manny faces for the real hold-up guy comes from the fact that the women in the insurance office believed that "All non-WASP look the same" and said persecution and the trauma endured by Manny comes out of bigotry and prejudice. Some of the questions asked by the cops, such as whether Manny has trouble with book-keepers and their repeated statement about Manny not having a criminal record, suggests that
- Many critics have wondered about the nature of Manny and Rose's marriage, i.e. the fictional version of the film, as opposed to the real one. Rose in her rant blames Manny for expensive vacations, when said vacation turns out to be a stay in a local resort out of the city. Critics usually wonder from this if Manny is an irresponsible husband living out of his means, or if Rose is a kind of demanding wife who keeps asking her husband for nice things. Many also believe that the coda and postscript about the family recovering happily two years later, is a typical golden Hollywood "fake happy ending" (indeed, most of the money Manny made for selling his story rights went to pay for Rose's treatment, and she died in 1984 without ever making a complete recovery).
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The cops insist that "an innocent man has nothing to fear from the law". The film shreds that assumption by showing how the legal, medical, and social stigma from being accused of a crime can ruin an innocent man, his marriage, and his family, while also eating his already low income. And ultimately, while the film does resolve happily for them, said resolution comes entirely from blind luck, and an "act of God", i.e. the legal system can and will crush the innocent.
- Older Than They Think: This was actually the second adaptation of the Manny Balestrero story. The first was a 1954 live TV drama produced by Robert Montgomery.
- Retroactive Recognition: A bunch. Harry Dean Stanton makes his film debut as a Department of Corrections employee, though he's a little hard to pick out among the gaggle of officers at the jail. Werner Klemperer (Col. Klink on Hogan's Heroes) is the psychiatrist Rose first visits. The two giggly adolescent girls who tell Manny that one of his alibi witnesses is now dead are Tuesday Weld and future One Day at a Time star Bonnie Franklin. Barney Martin (the future Morty Seinfeld) is one of the jurors. Frances Reid (Alice Horton on Days of Our Lives) was cast as Frank O'Connor's wife, but she apparently clashed with Hitchcock, and was cut out of the film except for her voice on the phone.note
- Values Dissonance: With Miranda Rights well-established for suspects, nowadays the case against Manny would probably be thrown out of court, due to the police's flagrant violation of his Fifth Amendment rights, including forcing him to transcribe a note which ultimately incriminated him. Not to mention that the "show-ups" they conducted with witnesses completely tainted the lineup, which now must be observed by a suspect's attorney. Manny's assumption that his sons will have sons probably raised some eyebrows as well now.
- Values Resonance: In a period where American films and American society generally made all Italian-Americans into gangsters, or otherwise as Funny Foreigner ethnic-types, Hitchcock made a drama about an Italian-American Working-Class Hero who provides for his family, and the film's critique of the American justice system, and the faults of the legal system is still quite strong.
YMMV / The Wrong Man