×

Call Northside 777

Call Northside 777 has all the separate ingredients for a sock film but registers only with a mild impact due to a lack of integration. Among the film's principal drawbacks is James Stewart's jarring and unpersuasive performance in the key role. As a Chicago reporter who's assigned to dig up a human-interest angle out of an 11-year-old murder case, Stewart shuttles between a phoney cynicism and a sob-sister sentimentalism into a recognizable newspaperman.

Call Northside 777 has all the separate ingredients for a sock film but registers only with a mild impact due to a lack of integration. Among the film’s principal drawbacks is James Stewart’s jarring and unpersuasive performance in the key role. As a Chicago reporter who’s assigned to dig up a human-interest angle out of an 11-year-old murder case, Stewart shuttles between a phoney cynicism and a sob-sister sentimentalism into a recognizable newspaperman.

Henry Hathaway’s direction marks a retreat from the documentary form. Instead of consistent realism, he lapses into a hybrid technique with plenty of hokey melodramatic tones.

Based on a celebrated miscarriage of justice in 1932, when two innocent men were sentenced to 99 years apiece for killing a cop, the screenplay [based on articles by James P. McGuire, adaptation by Leonard Hoffman and Quentin Reynolds] constructs a serviceable plot on the factual groundwork. Film, however, tends to wander aimlessly in an over-sized running time.

Title is derived from a personal ad placed in the Chicago Times-Herald by the mother of one of the prisoners offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the release of her son. Answering the ad, Stewart uses it as a peg for a series of human interest stories about the case. Initially skeptical, he’s progressively drawn to a belief in the man’s innocence. Richard Conte gives an intensely sincere performance as the young Polish-American who is railroaded to jail.

Call Northside 777

  • Production: 20th Century-Fox. Director Henry Hathaway; Producer Otto Lang; Screenplay Jerome Cady, Jay Dratler; Camera Joe MacDonald; Editor J. Watson Webb Jr; Music Alfred Newman;; Art Director Lyle R. Wheeler, Mark-Lee Kirk
  • Crew: (B&W) Extract of a review from 1948. Running time: 111 MIN.
  • With: James Stewart Richard Conte Lee J. Cobb Helen Walker Betty Garde
  • Music By: