Created by Matt Zoller Seitz
Directed by Judith Carter
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
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January 6, 2023 - January 20, 2023 (midnight PST)
With documentary-like authenticity, Hitchcock and his team meticulously re-created Manny's journey through the corridors of justice and the devastating effect of the arrest on his wife, Rose. In so doing, the director cast a damning light on New York's history of mistaken identity cases. The Balestreros fell victim to the same rush to judgment and suggestive eyewitness identification procedures that had doomed innocent defendants in earlier cases. Their ordeal is part of a larger story of the state's failure to reckon with its role in other wrongful prosecutions in the first half of the twentieth century.
Attorney Jason Isralowitz tells this story in a revelatory book that situates both the Balestrero case and its cinematic counterpart in their historical context. Drawing from archival records, Isralowitz delivers a gripping account of Manny's trial and new insights into an errant prosecution. He then examines how Hitchcock fused striking visual motifs with social realism to create a timeless work of art, with memorable performances by Henry Fonda and Vera Miles. The film bears witness to issues that animate the contemporary innocence movement, including the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, the need for police lineup reforms, and the dangers of investigative "tunnel vision."
A genre-bending work of true crime and film history, Nothing to Fear: Alfred Hitchcock and the Wrong Men is a must-read not only for fans of Hitchcock, but also for anyone interested in the history and causes of wrongful convictions.
"Arresting and important . . . . Lawyer Jason Isralowitz debuts with a painstaking account of the Balestrero case and the Hitchcock movie based on it, set within the revealing context of New York's history of wrongful convictions."—New York Journal of Books.
"The Wrong Man is a profoundly important film, and Nothing to Fear is a profoundly vital text."—Christopher Schobert, The Film Stage.
"This well-researched and well-crafted book . . . tells the story of Manny Balestrero, a Jackson Heights musician who was wrongly arrested for two robberies in 1953, and the making of The Wrong Man, Hitchcock's gripping retelling of Balestrero's ordeal."—Daniel Bubbeo, LI Arts, Theater and Books Editor, Newsday.
"Thanks to Jason Isralowitz for finally writing a book about Hitchcock's most under-appreciated movie. Isralowitz brilliantly contextualizes the movie and the true-life story of Manny Balestrero, preceded by an eye-opening prologue detailing the justice system's long history of indicting 'the wrong man' (and, in a few cases, 'the wrong woman'). A must for both cinephiles and true crime buffs."—Bruce Goldstein, Repertory Artistic Director, Film Forum, New York.
"Alfred Hitchcock books are a genre unto themselves. This one takes a refreshing slant by using the legendary filmmaker's harrowing 1956 drama The Wrong Man to look at the broader context of historical social justice movements around wrongful prosecution."—Nathalie Atkinson, culture and film critic, Zoomer magazine.
"A fascinating history, not only for fans of Hitchcock but for anyone interested in how our justice system works (and sometimes doesn't). The story of 'the wrong man' continues to resonate well into the twenty-first century, and will make you question your assumptions about innocence and guilt."—Dawn Raffel, author of The Strange Case of Dr. Couney, named by NPR as one of 2018's Great Reads and winner of a 2019 Christopher Award.
"Perfectly blends the making of the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie and the real life story upon which it is based. A terrific read for all those interested in the history of motion pictures and the history of Queens, NY, the home location of The Wrong Man."—Jason D. Antos, Executive Director of the Queens Historical Society and Queens historian.
MZS.Press is the online arts bookstore founded by author, critic, and filmmaker Matt Zoller Seitz and directed by Judith Carter. It offers new, used, signed, collectible, and rare books on film, TV, music, photography, and the visual arts. The store was launched in 2019 on a different platform and has expanded to incorporate arts books published by MZSPress's private imprint: titles currently include Seitz's The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon and Dreams of Deadwood, about the HBO Western, and Walter Chaw's A Walter Hill Film.
Our deepest wish is to promote, encourage, and distribute work by small presses, academic presses, and individuals. Extraordinary work tends to get swallowed up on giant platforms like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The store's inventory of nearly 1000 volumes is currently in the process of being reconstructed after its relocation from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas. The titles featured here are personally selected by a group of curators and advisors, including Seitz, Carter, and an array of critics, artists, journalists, educators, publishers, and arts mavens who are known for their ability to suss out what Seitz's jazz musician dad liked to call "the good sh*t."
“Since MZS is the brains behind the brand and concept, I guess that makes me the brawn. Even though my 'gun show' looks more like a water pistol exhibit in a toy store window...”
Matt Zoller Seitz
Critic, Author, Filmmaker, MZS Press Creator
Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large and film critic of RogerEbert.com; a staff writer for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. His writing on film and TV has appeared in Sight and Sound, The New York Times, Salon.com, The New Republic and Rolling Stone. Seitz is the founder and original editor of the influential film blog The House Next Door, now a part of Slant Magazine.
Seitz has written, narrated, edited or produced over a hundred hours’ worth of video essays about cinema history and style for The Museum of the Moving Image, Salon.com and Vulture, among other outlets such as Texas Highways and AARP. His five-part 2009 video essay Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style was spun off into the hardcover book The Wes Anderson Collection. This book and its follow-up, The Wes Anderson Collection: Grand Budapest Hotel were New York Times bestsellers.
Other Seitz books include the New York Times bestellers The Sopranos Sessions and Mad Men Carousel; TV (The Book), The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon, and The Wes Anderson Collection: The French Dispatch. He is also an interviewer, moderator, and film programmer who has curated and hosted film and TV presentations for the Museum of the Moving Image, IFC Center, San Francisco's Roxie Cinema, and other venues. He is currently launching a Dallas extension of his MZS Film Series at the historic Texas Theater.
Judith is quoted as saying "his hobbies include exotic dancing, moonwalking, and affixing masking tape labels to every food item in the refrigerator, including eggs. Oh and he has the attention span of a gnat." MZS agreed to it all except the moonwalking.