Sergio Leone Web Board
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 22, 2017, 03:59:34 AM
Home Help Search Calendar Login Register
News:


+  Sergio Leone Web Board
|-+  Other/Miscellaneous
| |-+  Off-Topic Discussion (Moderators: cigar joe, moviesceleton, Dust Devil)
| | |-+  Call Northside 777 (1948)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
Pages: 1 [2] Go Down Print
Author Topic: Call Northside 777 (1948)  (Read 3201 times)
Groggy
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 11458


This post gets Agnew's stamp of approval!


View Profile WWW
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2012, 04:22:57 AM »

I've neither seen nor reviewed this film.

Logged


Saturday nights with Groggy
drinkanddestroy
Global Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8314

trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders?


View Profile
« Reply #16 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  Embarrassed

« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 12:56:39 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

There are three types of people in the world, my friend: those who can add, and those who can't.
Dust Devil
Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3617


Smoke Tuco, so you can't bullshit!


View Profile
« Reply #17 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''.

Logged



No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, the reflection always looks you straight in the eye.
Dust Devil
Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3617


Smoke Tuco, so you can't bullshit!


View Profile
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2016, 12:14:59 PM »

I didn't quite catch: why wasn't the other man (Tomek Zaleska) also released?

Logged



No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, the reflection always looks you straight in the eye.
Dust Devil
Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3617


Smoke Tuco, so you can't bullshit!


View Profile
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2016, 12:18:25 PM »

+ Lionel Stander in a cameo (Wiecek's cellmate). Cool

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

Logged



No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, the reflection always looks you straight in the eye.
cigar joe
Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12609


easy come easy go


View Profile
« Reply #20 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.

Logged

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
Kurug3n
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1686


Que pasa?


View Profile
« Reply #21 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.

Logged
Dust Devil
Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3617


Smoke Tuco, so you can't bullshit!


View Profile
« Reply #22 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? Smiley

Logged



No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, the reflection always looks you straight in the eye.
Jessica Rabbit
Gunslinger
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 331


View Profile
« Reply #23 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.

Logged

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."
cigar joe
Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12609


easy come easy go


View Profile
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2017, 09:04:41 PM »

Nice write up Jess  Afro

Logged

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
T.H.
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1767



View Profile
« Reply #25 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.

Logged


Claudia, we need you to appear in LOST COMMAND. It's gonna revolutionize the war genre. What did you think of the script?
drinkanddestroy
Global Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8314

trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders?


View Profile
« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2017, 04:22:11 PM »

Great review, Jessica - as always  Afro

Logged

There are three types of people in the world, my friend: those who can add, and those who can't.
Jessica Rabbit
Gunslinger
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 331


View Profile
« Reply #27 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.

Logged

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."
Pages: 1 [2] Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Visit FISTFUL-OF-LEONE.COM

Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
Page created in 0.039 seconds with 19 queries.