In 1932, a cop is killed and Frank Wiecek sentenced to life. Eleven years later, a newspaper ad by Frank's mother leads Chicago reporter P.J. McNeal to look into the case. For some time, McNeal continues to believe Frank guilty. But when he starts to change his mind, he meets increased resistance from authorities unwilling to be proved wrong. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The man administering the polygraph test to convict Richard Conte was the actual inventor of the polygraph or lie detector machine, Leonarde Keeler. He plays himself in the movie. See more »
During the administration of the lie detector test, the window behind the examiner and Frank has an obvious prison yard background. Then, the camera angle shifts to a close-up of Frank and a clock-face within the room. The camera then pans back to the examiner. The scene in the window has changed to an English cottage by the sea with someone working in the fields. See more »
Call Northside 777 has James Stewart patiently trying to nail down enough facts to get Richard Conte a pardon from a murder for which he was falsely convicted. The tale is told in the documentary style that Henry Hathaway developed post World War II and that Darryl F. Zanuck used in several 20th Century Fox films.
On orders from editor Lee J. Cobb, Stewart checks out the source behind a small personal advertisement in the Chicago Sun-Times where he works. The ad is placed by Richard Conte's mother who works as a cleaning woman and saved enough money to offer a reward of $5000.00 for information clearing her son.
Back during the last days of Prohibition, Conte and another man were sent up for killing a Chicago policeman in a grocery store that fronted for a speakeasy. Conte was convicted mainly on the eyewitness testimony of the owner of the establishment Betty Garde.
Stewart gradually comes to believe in Conte's innocence and works tirelessly on his behalf. The best single performance in this film is by Betty Garde. A real portrait in evil that one is.
This has always been a film I've had an identity with. I had a similar situation in my former job with NYS Crime Victims Board. I had a case where a man sustained multiple injuries including the loss of a leg when a car drove up on a sidewalk and hit him. The report was never written up as any kind of crime, just an accident. The driver was given a summons and that was that.
I did a lot of work to prove the police were wrong in their action and it took two years, but I gathered enough evidence and my claimant was declared a crime victim and received the benefits from my former agency. The perpetrator was never charged with anything, but that was not in my mandate. Nevertheless I know exactly what Jimmy Stewart had to prove and how hard it is. The police even more than most of us do not like to admit they are wrong.
Call Northside 777 is a nicely done documentary style feature which is a great lesson in what a man with determination can accomplish.
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