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Chicago Calling (1951)

 -  Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller  -  1951 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 120 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 5 critic

A poor father makes monumental efforts to get money to keep his phone installed, so he can get word on his critically injured little daughter.

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Title: Chicago Calling (1951)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dan Duryea ...
William R. Cannon
...
Mary Cannon
Gordon Gebert ...
Bobby
Ross Elliott ...
Jim
Melinda Plowman ...
Nancy Cannon
Judy Brubaker ...
Barbara 'Babs' Kimball
Marcia Mae Jones ...
Peggy (as Marsha Jones)
Roy Engel ...
Pete
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Storyline

A poor father makes monumental efforts to get money to keep his phone installed, so he can get word on his critically injured little daughter.

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1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fernruf aus Chicago  »

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1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Brilliant Non-Noir Featuring Excellent Duryea Performance
16 June 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Dan Duryea needs $52.00 to get his phone turned back on, to hear about his daughter, injured in an accident. When it is CHICAGO, CALLING on his phone, will Dan hear what happened to his wife and child, or is Duryea just as doomed to misery as any other noir protagonist.

It seems like every b&w movie made circa 1950 that doesn't have Abbott and Costello or Martin & Lewis gets labeled a noir by somebody. In this case -- the label is simply wrong, as there is no real crime, or fatalistic resignation to fate. Instead, this is a character study in which Duryea has what, one hopes, is the worst week of his life. Fate and surprises do play a role, but chance in this one flings both good and bad surprises, and provide hope and despair. There are some really lousy people, but good ones too.

Duryea, himself, plays a well-rounded character, who really is the author of his current despair, but also the author of the circumstances that might just bring about his own redemption. And Duryea, given a truly good role, responds with the sort of subtle, well-rounded performance that is supposed to earn an actor an Oscar. No such luck, alas -- the independent film that played the art houses had not been invented yet, and this out of step cheaply made story of the downwardly mobile was not the sort that got bookings -- even as the second part of a double feature.

This film is sort of semi-rediscovered. Film blogs have noticed it. IMDb rates it highly. There is a DVD, I believe. But I wonder if it will ever get the respect it deserves. The director made a few cheap noirs for Monogram, and not much else. Duryea is respected as an actor, but beloved for his villainy in westerns and noirs, rather than his occasional star turns, in which his flawed heroes suffer for their flaws. This is a brilliant film. But it does not fit a category, and its world view is perhaps not as bleak as intellectual fashion would prefer.

So, find this movie and see it. And spread the word. While the cinematic and critical sins of 1951 cannot be fixed, our view of the past and what it has to offer us can always evolve.


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