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Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: drinkanddestroy on November 18, 2011, 05:52:32 AM



Title: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 18, 2011, 05:52:32 AM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040202/

Call Northside 777 (1948) 8.5/10

James Stewart, in one of his finest performances, plays a Chicago reporter who seeks to vindicate a man who has been prison for 11 years on a murder conviction. Based on a true story.

Cast (courtesy of imdb)



James Stewart    ...   Jim McNeal
    Richard Conte    ...   Frank W. Wiecek
    Lee J. Cobb    ...   Brian Kelly
    Helen Walker    ...   Laura McNeal
    Betty Garde    ...   Wanda Skutnik
    Kasia Orzazewski    ...   Tillie Wiecek
    Joanne De Bergh    ...   Helen Wiecek (as Joanne de Bergh)
    Howard Smith    ...   K.L. Palmer
    Moroni Olsen    ...   Parole Board Chairman
    John McIntire    ...   Sam Faxon
    Paul Harvey    ...   Martin J. Burns

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titoli http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg127109#msg127109

Call Northside 777 - This is one of the few cases where my initial judgment of a movie must be revised. I remembered this as a taut, gritty suspense movie, instead is good only until Conte takes the truth test. After that it becomes verbose, overstretched and goofy (this happens when technology is made the protagonist). Actors under par, actresses good. 5\10

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cigar joe: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg135335#msg135335
Call Northside 777 (1948)  Basically a woman places an ad in the Chicago Times offering a $5,000 reward for information that will exonerate her son Richard Conti, the newspaper assigns Jimmy Stewart to look into case. Great cinematography of the seedier parts of Chicago circa 1948. 7/10

(Note: cigar joe revised his opinion below after a second viewing)
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Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: T.H. on November 18, 2011, 12:22:35 PM
I found this one visually dull, overlong and horrendously paced (Hathaway trademarks).


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 19, 2011, 04:41:25 PM
I found this one visually dull, overlong and horrendously paced (Hathaway trademarks).

 I am the most impatient guy in the world re: movies that move too slowly. That is the single worst thing for me; I can't tell you how many (famous and supposedly all-time great) movies I shut off in the first 20 minutes cuz I couldn't take how slow it was. And I did not find any such problems with Call Northside 777


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: stanton on November 19, 2011, 05:30:10 PM
I found this one visually dull, overlong and horrendously paced (Hathaway trademarks).

Can't say that I think that Hathaway had any pacing problems in any of his films. Which films do you mean?

Of course I haven't seen all of his stuff, and of course he did some shit in his long career, but his best films are very well paced imo.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: T.H. on November 19, 2011, 09:28:30 PM
It had a clever ending (as in proving the innocence) but everything dragged to that point. It lacks any soul, as vague of a criticism as that is.

As for Hathaway, I don't care for this movie, The Dark Corner, Kiss of Death, Fourteen Hours, Niagra (I should give this another shot though) and The Sons of Katie Elder (maybe I'm forgetting others) and believe that they all have pacing issues and bland visuals - even the noir films.

True Grit is okay and I do like North to Alaska.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 19, 2011, 10:50:12 PM
It had a clever ending (as in proving the innocence) but everything dragged to that point. It lacks any soul, as vague of a criticism as that is.

As for Hathaway, I don't care for this movie, The Dark Corner, Kiss of Death, Fourteen Hours, Niagra (I should give this another shot though) and The Sons of Katie Elder (maybe I'm forgetting others) and believe that they all have pacing issues and bland visuals - even the noir films.

True Grit is okay and I do like North to Alaska.

The only movies I saw on this list are The Sons of Katie Elder and True Grit, and I did not like either.

John Wayne is always good, but in True Grit, Darby and Campbell are annoying. TSOKE starts out with you believing this could be good, but somehow just never puts it together, and toward the end, you are just waiting for it to end. And I could never stand Earl Holliman.... Even aside from the acting, neither movie is that compelling...


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: stanton on November 20, 2011, 03:26:52 AM
But especially Katie Elder and True Grit are very well paced films, and they look great. The tense Rawhide is another very well paced and looking film (now in b/w).

The problems of his bad films (Legend of the Lost, 5 Card Stud) or his routine stuff (Niagara, Circus World) lies also not in the pacing or in the general look of these films but in the mediocre script material. And even if he (rarely) failed to made the best of good material, like in Garden of Evil, it wasn't for the pacing of that particular film. And the photography and the landscape is often stunning in Garden of Evil.

I'm surprised that you view Hathaway that negative.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on November 20, 2011, 04:36:35 AM
Call Northside 777 (1948) Directed by Henry Hathaway with James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, & Helen Walker.  Based on a true story, a man, Conte, is accused of killing a cop by an eye witness who ran a speakeasy in the 30's, he's convicted and sent up for life, his mother washes floors for 11 years and saves enough money to run a Chicago Times newspaper add offering a reward to who ever can identify the real killer.

This interests the newspaper to assign Stewart to write a story about the add, which in turn, after Stewart interviews Conte's mother, starts Stewart on a crusade to refute the dubious eye witness testimony. This is an entertaining story supposedly filmed where ever possible at the actual Chicago locations where the events took place. Lots of great interior and exterior location shots around Chicago give the film a very gritty feel.

Another top notch noir from the Fox Film Noir Collection 10/10


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Groggy on November 20, 2011, 07:35:00 AM
I found this one visually dull, overlong and horrendously paced (Hathaway trademarks).

Sure you're not thinking of another Hathaway?


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: T.H. on November 22, 2011, 07:50:41 PM
But especially Katie Elder and True Grit are very well paced films, and they look great. The tense Rawhide is another very well paced and looking film (now in b/w).

The problems of his bad films (Legend of the Lost, 5 Card Stud) or his routine stuff (Niagara, Circus World) lies also not in the pacing or in the general look of these films but in the mediocre script material. And even if he (rarely) failed to made the best of good material, like in Garden of Evil, it wasn't for the pacing of that particular film. And the photography and the landscape is often stunning in Garden of Evil.

I'm surprised that you view Hathaway that negative.

Katie Elder felt four hours long, but I agree that True Grit moves at a decent clip. That and North to Alaska are the exceptions imo.

I don't think there is anything distinct about Hathaway's style. His work seems lazy and a bit hapless. He's like a rich man's Andrew McLaglen.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Groggy on November 26, 2011, 08:24:05 PM
Well "a rich man's" anything implies some quality. Hathaway's certainly not an auteur but a good director of action.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: titoli on November 26, 2011, 10:05:48 PM
Where's my review, cj?


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 26, 2011, 10:16:16 PM
Where's my review, cj?

perhaps you posted it in the Film Noir Discussion Thread? i don't recall seeing it here in this thread.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on November 27, 2011, 06:32:53 AM
Where's my review, cj?

Its the first one that pops up at the bottom link on the first post  O0

What we did was create a new post for each new Noir, films noir that originally were randomly discussed in the Film Noir & DVD thread were linked together with a hyperlink at the bottom of each.  Example You (titoli) would review Call Northside 777, somebody may comment immediately, or more common a few posts later somebody would comment then someone would answer a few posts later  so the discussion was all over the map.

So we linked those posts into that alternate discussion thread so if you keep clicking the links you can follow that discussion. We are going to try keeping up on any posts that review films that don't have a new topic and create one for it.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 19, 2012, 12:46:08 AM
Groggy,

Just re-post your review here


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Groggy on April 19, 2012, 04:22:57 AM
I've neither seen nor reviewed this film.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 19, 2012, 09:59:18 AM
woops sorry, for some reason I saw that post by titoli and you confused you with him.

I really don't know how that could have happened  :-[


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Dust Devil on November 20, 2016, 12:12:29 PM
Call Northside 777 (1948) - (around a) 7/10

I liked the Chicago footage of the era: vivid though far from spectacular. I guess - due to the documentary approach - the pace is rather slow, especially after the first half of the movie. On the other hand Jimmy Stewart very good here, Conte and Cobb also reasonably good, and the actresses wonderful. Another one of those so called ''non-memorable classics''.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Dust Devil on November 20, 2016, 12:14:59 PM
I didn't quite catch: why wasn't the other man (Tomek Zaleska) also released?


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Dust Devil on November 20, 2016, 12:18:25 PM
+ Lionel Stander in a cameo (Wiecek's cellmate). 8)

He did look (sound) familiar, but I didn't get him at first.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on November 20, 2016, 01:19:11 PM
I didn't quite catch: why wasn't the other man (Tomek Zaleska) also released?

I don't remember, I haven't seen it for a while.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Kurug3n on November 21, 2016, 04:17:34 PM
I didn't quite catch: why wasn't the other man (Tomek Zaleska) also released?

I remember watching this earlier in the year and that played the biggest problem for me. They never really suggested or hinted at him being innocent and just focused on Frank being innocent.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Dust Devil on November 22, 2016, 03:30:45 AM
I remember watching this earlier in the year and that played the biggest problem for me. They never really suggested or hinted at him being innocent and just focused on Frank being innocent.

Yeah. The reason could be that he wasn't indicated/recognized by the female witness. But then, why was he incarcerated in first place? :)


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Jessica Rabbit on March 16, 2017, 06:05:44 PM
I can’t claim to be James Stewart’s biggest fan, but his films always pleasantly surprise and entertain me. To me Call Northside 777 is a very under-appreciated Stewart vehicle which never seems to be mentioned much when talking about his filmography. I see not too many people here loved it, I can understand that, it does drag occasionally.
This was one of several Fox features dealing with real life crime stories (The House On 92nd Street, Boomerang) and it was directed by Henry Hathaway, an unpretentious director with a strong affinity for action and documentary style. Hathaway’s approach to filmmaking can best be described as workmanlike. He got the job done with little flash or glamour, and his no-nonsense directing style was just what was needed for this kind of film.

James Stewart plays PJ McNeal, a Chicago Times reporter, who’s asked by his editor Kelly (Lee J. Cobb) to look into the case of Frank Wiecek (Richard Conte) who was convicted of killing a cop 11 years earlier during prohibition, after an ad is placed in the Times with a $5,000 reward for information to exonerate the convicted man. It turns out the ad was placed by a cleaning woman named Tillie Wiecek (Kasia Orzazewski), Frank’s mother, who is convinced her son had nothing to do with the killing and has been scrubbing floors for 11 years to raise money to free her son. McNeal’s journalistic life has supplied him with a hefty dose of skepticism, he doesn't believe for a moment that Frank could be innocent, he’s expecting a scam but he sees a good human interest story in Tillie.
But the more McNeal digs into records on the case, the more he finds wrong with the original investigation though he runs into one dead end after another. Evidence seems to be missing or is inconclusive, the police and witnesses don’t want to talk to him, he’s being stonewalled at every second and McNeal begins to wonder if Frank might not have been railroaded after all.

The film was based on a true story, but a much less savory one than portrayed here. It involved actual police corruption and falsification of evidence, but obviously in 1948 the Code would not allow to show law enforcement as corrupt and thus the story was altered. Apparently the police, under great pressure to solve the murder quickly lest it further worsen Chicago’s already bad reputation, threatened witnesses to identify Wiecek as the killer and put pressure on the judge not to grant him a new trial.
777 is a good film as far as it goes, but what we get here is a white-wash in which the police investigation can be called at worst negligent and careless, but not deliberately corrupt.

Though shot in 1948, the picture has nothing of the romanticism about it that characterized so many 40s Noirs. It was one of the first movies that eschewed romanticism for stark documentary realism which would become more popular in the following decade.
40s Noir had a visual poetry and romantic narrative to it, it was highly stylized and artificial. Call Northside 777 was filmed in semi-documentary style, with no background music to speak of, and an emphasis on realistic lighting and actual location shooting. It features beautiful location photography, but while the cinematography is good it is hardly noirish, with barely any visual flourishes.

The City of Chicago is not just a supporting player here, it is a character. To emphasize realism, whenever possible, actual locations in Illinois where the real events took place were used, including the Illinois State Pen and Polish neighborhoods with real citizens used as extras.
Noteworthy too is the almost complete absence of a musical score, the soundtrack we hear are the sounds of the city. Clanging trollies, the roar of the trains and the bustling traffic.

Much emphasis is placed on what was back then revolutionary technology in crime fighting, which of course nowadays seems quaint. Polygraph testing, copy machine, miniature cameras and the wire transmittal of photographs play a crucial role in proving Frank’s innocence.

One cannot in all honesty call this film Noir, not even by association. At best it has Noir connections, though these connection are fairly loose.
The subject matter, innocent man in prison, feels right and the narration focuses on a cynical man who conducts his investigation quite without any sentimentality. But it’s more of a police procedural/social drama with the occasional Noir touch.

At 111 minutes the movie is at times slow and long-winded, it’s almost too painstakingly thorough in its reconstruction of the crime. The story unfolds in step-by-step excruciating procedural detail, we get to see the everyday work of journalists, a lie detector test, how photographs get transmitted by wire. Stewart slogs around grim and seedy Chicago backstreets, bars and run-down apartments tracking down possible witnesses.
Some reviewers found this attention to everyday detail dull, but it fits the tone of the movie perfectly. It is about realism, not melodrama. Getting the facts straight is all that counts.

What keeps the film from being dry and sober are the good performances. To the script’s credit, it doesn’t employ a black and white mentality.
Stewart’s casting at the time was off-beat as his image was not that of a tough guy. This role was a departure for him. Finally gone was the bumbling aw-shucks guy, Stewart had decided to toughen up. This new persona would further be developed in the coming decade in Anthony Mann’s Westerns.
McNeal starts out as a cynical reporter with his eye on the main chance. He doesn’t want to be played for a sucker, he’s heard many a sob story before but if this sob story helps sell copies he’ll milk it for all it’s worth.
McNeal doesn’t care if Wiecek is guilty or innocent. He wants to finish the story off and be done with it but the story just won’t die. Wiecek’s declarations of innocence sound too sincere, just like the unshakable faith of Mrs. Wiecek. When new evidence turns up he becomes a crusader for justice.
As opposed to today, the movie goes back to a time when crusading news reporters were the good guys who’d go to great length to see justice done, even if the justice system failed.
Though we get to see a new Jimmy Stewart her, there is still a good bit more optimism in him than in the usual Noir protagonist. His cynicism doesn’t run too deep and by the end he’s “Mr. Smith” again, his idealism restored.

Lee J. Cobb can do no wrong in my eyes, and first time actress Kasia Orzazewski, an actual Polish immigrant, is extremely effective and touching as the mother who refuses to believe her son guilty of murder and has dedicated her whole life to the quest for truth. Her devotion never wavers. One of the most poignant scenes is her introduction scrubbing floors alone at night in the empty office building to raise money.

Richard Conte plays against type as the quiet and self-sacrificing Wiecek. Astonishingly enough, he is resigned to his fate and hasn’t become cynical by his experience. If anything he’s a bit too saintly, but that’s a minor quibble.

In the end justice wins out - with a little patriotic flag-waving that only in America this could have happened. Though the movie ends on an upbeat note, not all is well that ends well. Wiecek is pardoned, but his family is destroyed and nobody can give him back the 11 wasted years.

It’s interesting that ultimately McNeal ends up alone when Wiecek comes out of the prison gates and is reunited with his family. McNeal fought so hard to convince everyone he was right, and now that he's succeeded, he has just no place to go.

Some reviewers didn’t like that fact that we never find out who the real murderer was and why exactly witnesses lied. But 777 is not a mystery story, it’s the story of two men who win back their faith in humanity.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on March 16, 2017, 09:04:41 PM
Nice write up Jess  O0


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: T.H. on March 17, 2017, 03:49:16 PM
Even though I feel like I was too harsh on Hathaway, I do stand by what I said.

I should revisit Kiss of Death and The Dark Corner though.


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 17, 2017, 04:22:11 PM
Great review, Jessica - as always  O0


Title: Re: Call Northside 777 (1948)
Post by: Jessica Rabbit on March 17, 2017, 05:53:05 PM
Quote
Even though I feel like I was too harsh on Hathaway, I do stand by what I said.

I understand, the movie does drag a bit. It's one of those you either love it or hate it movies.

I like Hathaway a lot. The Dark Corner and Kiss of Death are two of my favorites.