Look at how ‘bad suspects’ were treated by the cops, played by Harold J. Stone and Charles Cooper — arrested without their rights being read or told of the crime they are accused of. They are not allowed to contact their family, who fear the worst, interviews are conducted without written or taped records, witnesses are subtly coerced into identifying the ‘real’ suspect in a lineup, and are paraded past witnesses in the stores, whose expectations and willingness to ‘help’ the law are exploited, etc. Then, later, when on trial, we learn the cops have outright lied, claiming Manny admitted he was in debt to bookies.
The film also leaves threads dangling, such as Manny’s alibi of having a visibly swollen jaw the day of one of the robberies, and having a dentist who could verify this fact. Such a physical fact would easily be used by a good lawyer in his defense, but it would have likely ended the film’s drama right there.
The film also suffers in the area of detailing the mental disconnect of Fonda’s onscreen wife, Rose, played by Vera Miles. Her break from reality is too convenient and didactic a tool to show off the suffering of an innocent, when clearly there were larger problems that Manny’s arrest only brought to a head. She even physically attacks him with a hairbrush, something that shows that there’s more to the character’s breakdown. When Manny asks Rose why she doesn’t seem to care any more about his case or life, she replies, "Don’t you see? It doesn’t do any good to care. They’ve got it fixed against you. They’ll find you guilty, no matter what. But we’re not going to play into their hands anymore. You’re not going out. You’re not going to play at the club. And the boys aren’t going to school anymore. We’re going to lock the doors to the house and stay inside."
Most frightening is that even though delusional, she’s right, for had Manny not cooperated with the cops so willingly the case against him, purely circumstantial and a bit laughable, would have been even far weaker. Lastly, the film ends too patly and abruptly, with a cleared Manny leaving his wife in a sanatorium, only to have the film’s epilogue tell us all worked out well in the end. One could argue, since Hitchcock starts with himself introducing the film as based on a true story, that - a la Ingmar Bergman’s 1960s experiments with the acknowledged artifice of film - the film has no obligation to play out realistically, and its end with a shot of the reunited and happy family walking as we read the epilogue is justified. But, it’s still too easy a deus ex machina ending.