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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
ON SCREEN: "THIS IS A TRUE STORY" Actually, this film was based on a true story. Some elements, especially characters names, were fictionalized out of necessity, such as some central figures to the story were still living at the time of production, and had not given permission for their names to be used. See more »
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 »
[McNeal is trying to get Zaleska to name his real partner in the crime and get a chance at parole]
What have you got to lose? You're in for life now. C'mon, tell us the truth.
Sure, I could say I did it. Then maybe have a chance of getting out, like you say. And if I confessed, who would I name as my partner, Joe Doaks? I couldn't make it stick for one minute. That's the trouble with being innocent - you don't know what really happened.
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Call Northside 777 is a genuinely engaging film. It has reliable James Stewart as an investigative reporter on a story about an alleged cop killer in prison. At first he believes that the prisoner is guilty but then becomes convinced otherwise and is willing to risk his professional reputation on clearing him. The pace of the film is told like a gritty docudrama with no dramatic musical underscore for effect. But more importantly, this film is interesting to watch for a time capsule of post WWII Chicago. The Chicago Times, the police precincts, the ethnic neighborhoods that existed then and a whole sequence of a wireless photo copier. This is generations before the fax machine was ever conceived. This film is important as Stewart was beginning his maturing film roles in the postwar period and taking on good narrative stories and less goodguy next door roles which were going out of fashion.
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