The Roth family lead a quiet life in a small village in the German Alps during the early 1930s. When the Nazis come to power, the family is divided and Martin Brietner, a family friend is caught up in the turmoil.
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 <email@example.com>
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 McNeal first visits Tillie, he has no camera nor a photographer with him. The next morning, city editor Kelly is holding a paper with a photo of Tillie scrubbing the stairs. However, it is possible that McNeal sent a photographer back after meeting Tillie, since when he first met her he wasn't sure she was the right person. See more »
[to warden, after trying to talk Tomek into confessing to get parole]
You must run a nice jail; this guy doesn't want to get out either.
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"Call Northside 777" is a well made crime drama shot in semi-documentary style. It benefits from a solid script, and tight direction (by Henry Hathaway). It also features a naturalistic James Stewart as a sharp investigative reporter; much of the success of the film is due to his thoroughly convincing performance. A fine support cast includes Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb and Helen Walker. What ages the film a bit is the now somewhat dated technology featured (a lengthy episode in which the lie detector is treated in detail, along with certain photographic reproduction and transference techniques). Yet, one can view these aspects as historically accurate representations, and enjoy the total production, which is on a commendably high level.
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