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Call Northside 777 (Fox Film Noir)

4.4 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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(Mar 15, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

James Stewart, Richard Conte, Paul Harvey, E.G. Marshall. A reporter is convinced of a convicted killer's innocence and sets out to find the witnesses who can prove his theory. This gripping based-on-a-true-story drama unfolds in a compelling semi-documentary style. 1948/b&w/111 min/NR/fullscreen.

Special Features

  • Fox Movietone news (motion picture stars attend premiere)
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, Helen Walker, Betty Garde
  • Directors: Henry Hathaway
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Black & White, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: March 15, 2005
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006UEVV8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,519 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Call Northside 777 (Fox Film Noir)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 7, 2005
Format: DVD
Once in a while the writer gets to be the hero. In Henry Hathaway's classic film noir thriller Chicago Times editor Brian Kelly (Lee J. Cobb) sends investigative reporter P. J. McNeal (Jimmy Stewart) to investigates a 1933 murder when he comes across a classified ad offering a reward for info on the case. Although skeptical at first about the innocence of convicted cop killer Frank Wiecek (Richard Conte), all the mysterious dead ends McNeal encounters convinces him that the might be something to the story. Never garnering the critical acclaim or following of other directors, Henry Hathaway ("True Grit", "Nevada Smith", "Kiss of Death") created a series of worthwhile thrillers, westerns and action films. Sadly much of Hathaway's work has been overlooked because he was viewed as little more than a workman-like film director. Although Hathaway doesn't fit into the French auteur theory that made stars of film directors like Orson Welles, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Powell, his films always feature strong performances, well written and intelligent scripts. "Calling Northside 777" ranks as a strong film noir based on a true story (much like Hitchcock's well regarded thriller "The Wrong Man") and many of the exteriors were shot on location a rarity at the time. This unusual film straddles the line between docudrama, Italian neorealism and film noir much like Anthony Mann's minor classic film "T-Men" (1947). The crisp, intelligent script by Jay Dratler ("Laura") and Jerome Cady ("Wing and a Prayer" sadly Cady died shortly after the film premiered) rings true with dialogue that doesn't sound dated despite the passage of nearly 60 years.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
A poor woman, Tillie Wiecek (Kasia Orzazewski), runs a newspaper ad offering $5000 for the capture and conviction of the men who killed a Chicago policeman over a decade ago (`Call Northside 777.) Her son Frank (Richard Conte) was tried, convicted and sentenced to 99 years for the murder, but she's convinced of his innocence. City Editor Brian Kelly (Lee J. Cobb) reads the article and assigns beat reporter P.J. McNeal (James Stewart) to investigate the story. There are angles to be played.

And played they are. They liked to rip `em from the headlines back then, too. CALL NORTHSIDE 777 (1948) is an old school docu-drama, one of a number to emerge in the immediate post-war era. Armed with lighter cameras and faster film stocks, steeled with a passion for location and a love of verisimilitude, these movies boldly left the dressed set for the dirty street. In this case it's the Polish ghettos and the grimy prisons of broad-shouldered Chicago that are surveyed. Stewart, in one of his first non-boy ingenue roles, is given a chance to play a skeptic, an ambitious assignment reporter with a deep well of cynicism and an eye for the angle. Films like CALL NORTHSIDE 777 not only open with a title card telling us "This is a true story," they emphasize that all important point by assuring us that `real locations were used whenever possible.' The movie opens with an extended montage of Chicago from the Great Fire (I think that one, at least, must have come from a reenactment in another movie) to the Prohibition era, replete with Chicago's finest smashing casks of bootleg hooch and brief newsreel footage of such real-life notorati as John Dillinger and Al Capone. All this preface material blends seemingly seamlessly into the movie proper.
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By A Customer on April 18, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
For my money this is the best film ever made about American journalism. James Stewart is a staff writer made cycnical over the years by the grubby sensationalism and shallow hackwork that fills most American newspapers. When he actually latches onto a case of genuine injustice it's an episode that transforms his life almost as much as that of the convict he's trying to free. This is certainly director Henry Hathaway's masterpiece and he has never been given sufficient credit for it. The straight-on realism he achieved filming on location in Chicago has rarely if ever been equalled in the American movies in my view, and no effort was made to clean up the untidy skeins of the story either as Hollywood was wont to do. For instance, nothing was done to free the man unjustly convicted along with Richard Conte's character, around whom the story revolves. If you were to make a list of Stewart's 4 or 5 greatest performances this would have to be on it. He uses methods both praiseworthy and ugly to get what he's after and no American movie actor ever brought home that kind of mixed morality better.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Jimmy Stewart plays a Chicago newspaper reporter. His editor is intrigued by a simple add in the paper. A reward of $5000 is offered for information on the murder of a policeman. The murder is over a decade old. A man has already been convicted of the murder and is serving a life sentence. What interest, the editor wants to know, would anybody have in an old murder? He assigns Jimmy Stewart to find out.

Stewart learns that the add was placed by the convicted man's mother. She is convinced that her son has been falsely accused. The skeptical reporter is touched by the mother's devotion but skeptical as to the innocence of the convict. As time goes on, however, things don't add up. In time, he becomes convinced that an innocent man is rotting in prison and sets out to fix things. He is opposed by just about all of the law and order types and by the political establishment.

This is an excellent film and an excellent story. It is well crafted and well acted. It is reputedly based upon a true story. It's billed as film noir but it does not seem to fit that description to me. It has its gritty moments but is in general much more optimistic about humanity. Its worth watching.
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