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Call Northside 777 (1948)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 4,907 users  
Reviews: 74 user | 33 critic

Chicago reporter P.J. McNeal re-opens a ten year old murder case.

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(screen play), (screen play), 4 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
P.J. McNeal
...
...
Helen Walker ...
Betty Garde ...
Kasia Orzazewski ...
Joanne De Bergh ...
Helen Wiecek (as Joanne de Bergh)
Howard Smith ...
Moroni Olsen ...
...
Paul Harvey ...
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Storyline

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. O'Neal to look into the case. For some time, O'Neal 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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It couldn't happen . . . but it did! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

1 February 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Calling Northside 777  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 9, 1949 with James Stewart reprising his film role. See more »

Goofs

When Frank takes the lie detector test he tells the operative he is 5 ft 9 inches tall. Later when McNeal finds the arrest card, it describes Frank as 5 ft 8 inches tall. See more »

Quotes

P.J. McNeal: Aw, look, Frank, it's a big thing when a sovereign state admits an error. But remember this: there aren't many governments in the world that would do it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Fence Me In
(1944) (uncredited)
Music by Cole Porter
Played at the bar where McNeal orders a bourbon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Solid Cinematic Effort
4 February 2006 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Based on a true story, "Call Northside 777" follows P.J. McNeal, a newspaper reporter played by James Stewart, as he investigates a decade old murder case. The setting is Chicago in the 1930s and 40s.

Frank Wiecek (Richard Conte) has been convicted of a cop killing and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Convinced of her son's innocence, Frank's mother, an elderly and lowly cleaning lady, takes out an ad in the newspaper for information that will help free her son. McNeal grudgingly looks into the case, but doubts Wiecek's innocence. As the film moves along, McNeal slowly changes his perception of Wiecek.

Some viewers consider this to be a film-noir. To me, it is more of a docudrama, a staging of a real life story. The dialogue seems realistic. And the acting is low-key and credible. The film also highlights the technology of the era, including the use of the printing press, the polygraph, and a miniature camera.

But what impressed me most was the use of the Chicago locations where the real life story took place. Further, the B&W visuals are appropriately drab, dreary, and depressing, which reflects the tone of the actual events. There's very little background music, which also adds authenticity to the film. The only downside is the matter-of-fact procedural style in which the story is told, especially relative to the fatherly VO narration at the film's beginning and end. The film comes across at times as dry, and lacking emotional depth.

Devoid of cinematic hype, and told in a straightforward and plodding manner, "Call Northside 777" will appeal to people who seek realism in films. And, of course, the film's basis in fact, vis-a-vis fiction, adds to its credibility.


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