Call Northside 777 (1948)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Discovering that a man convicted of a murder over a decade before may in fact be innocent, a Chicago journalist embarks on an investigation in search of the truth. This drama was based upon the true story of journalist Jim McGuire and wrongly convicted prisoner Joe Majczek.
Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox Film Corporation

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James Stewart
as P.J. (Jim) McNeal
Richard Conte
as Frank W. Wiecek
Lee J. Cobb
as Brian Kelly
Helen Walker
as Laura McNeal
Betty Garde
as Wanda Skutnik
Kasia Orzazewski
as Tillie Wiecek
Joanna De Bergh
as Helen Wiecek-Rayska
Howard Smith
as K.L. Palmer
Moroni Olsen
as Parole Board Chairman
John McIntire
as Sam Faxon
Paul Harvey
as Martin Burns
George Tyne
as Tomek Zaleska
J.M. Kerrigan
as Sullivan
Samuel S. Hinds
as Judge Charles Moulton
Otto Waldis
as Boris
Michael Chapin
as Frank Jr.
E.G. Marshall
as Rayska
Truman Bradley
as Narrator
John Bleifer
as Jan Gruska
Addison Richards
as John Albertson
Richard Rober
as Larson
Eddie Dunn
as Patrolman
Percy Helton
as Mailman
Charles Lane
as Prosecuting Attorney
Joanne De Bergh
as Helen Wiecek-Rayska
Walter Greaza
as Detective
William Post Jr.
as Police Sergeant
George Melford
as Parole Board Member
Charles Miller
as Parole Board Member
Joe Forte
as Parole Board Member
Dick Ryan
as Parole Board Member
Lionel Stander
as Corrigan
Jonathan Hale
as Robert Winston
Lew Eckles
as Policeman
Freddie Steele
as Holdup Man
George Turner
as Holdup Man
Jane Crowley
as Anna Felczak
Robert Karnes
as Spitzer
Larry J. Blake
as Technician
Robert B. Williams
as Technician
Perry Ivins
as Technician
Lester Sharpe
as Technician
Helen Foster
as Secretary
Abe Dinovitch
as Polish Man
Jack Mannick
as Polish Man
Henry Kulky
as Bartender in Drazynski's Place
Cy Kendall
as Bartender in Bill's Place
Dollie Caillet
as Secretary
George Spaulding
as Man on Parole Board
Wanda Perry
as Telephone Operator
Ann Staunton
as Telephone Operator
Rex Downing
as Copy Boy
Edward Peil Jr.
as Bartender
Buck Harrington
as Bartender
George Cisar
as Policeman
Philip Lord
as Policeman
Stanley Gordon
as Prison Clerk
Arthur Peterson
as Keeler's Assistant
Duke Watson
as Policeman
George Pembroke
as Policeman
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Critic Reviews for Call Northside 777

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1)

In short, there is nothing in this picture except a whopping shortcut towards the end -- and a few false parochialisms -- to keep it from banging the bell.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Solidly crafted change of pace for Stewart.

Full Review… | April 8, 2007

one of the most mundane legal thriller/newspaperman activist stories the world has ever seen

April 25, 2005

James Stewart gives a hard-edged performance as a jaded newspaper reporter who turns a classified ad into the story of the century.

Full Review… | April 4, 2005
Combustible Celluloid

The movie takes its time, but it finally gets into true noir territory by the last half hour, where dark streets, dark alleys, dark staircases, and dark rooms prevail.

Full Review… | March 27, 2005
Movie Metropolis

James Stewart's brusque characterization provides Call Northside 777 with its edge.

Full Review… | March 23, 2005
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for Call Northside 777


P.J. McNeal: Aw, look, Frank, it's a big thing when a sovereign state admits an error. But remember this: there aren't many governments in the world that would do it. "It couldn't happen... but it did!" Call Northside 777 is a nice combination of docu-drama/thriller and noir. That isn't to say it's perfect though. In fact, Northside 777 could have been much better. It all feels too calculated and the way the plot moves forward seems much too easy at times. Still, this is entertaining and interesting look at a true story. It's well acted and directed, even if the writing is slightly weak in areas. P.J. McNeal is a reporter for a Chicago newspaper. 11 years earlier, Frank Wiecek was found guilty of shooting and killing a police officer in a speakeasy. His mother, convinced of her sons innocence, has been slaving to put away money to offer as a reward for anyone who is able to find the real killers. McNeal's editor catches wind of it and puts McNeal on the story. He goes into convinced of Wiecek's guilt, but after following all leads, he begins to change his mind. James Stewart is obviously the selling point of this film and does a terrific job. Lee J. Cobb, who I am becoming a big fan of, is also great as the newspaper editor, Brian Kelly. Also, Henry Hathaway's always solid direction makes the film always have flow even as it becomes predictable. I wouldn't call this a must watch, but for fans of this time period of filmmaking, you could do much worse. It isn't a masterpiece, but just a solid film from a talented director and cast.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

One of the best things about this docu-noir about an innocent man imprisoned is the very believable undercurrent throughout that nobody believes the guy is innocent, not even the reporter (Jimmy Stewart) assigned the case. Well, that and its shot in Chicago. The cast delivers, especially the washerwoman mom of the convicted.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Another fascinating entry into the "docu-realism" noirs of the late 1940's. In it, director Henry Hathaway braids documentary footage with his film to make an interesting blend of fantasy and reality. Much like Dassin's "The Naked City" which focuses on crime in New York, Hathaway's film appears to be a case study of Chicago. Hathaway starts the picture by showing the history of the Windy City as being riddled with crime and corruption. When one policeman is murdered, the newspaper almost comically states "another policeman murdered." Hathaway crafts this scene in such a way that I was having a hard time deciphering what was newsreel footage and what was his film. It is this attention and unflinching commitment to realism & detail in the first act-most masterfully showcased in scenes such as the one involving a lie detector-that take would could easily have been a rather laborious watch and make it quite enjoyable. By gliding from newsroom to newsroom and watching countless minutes of Stewart hammering away on his Underwood Five, Hathaway not only brilliantly keeps with the film's authenticity, but also subtly shows the evolution of the case and the subsequent groundswell of support that it is garnering. Stewart as always, is fantastic. Still oozing the All-American boyish charm that he is known for, but also displaying a hard-lined cynical nature on his brow. Nothing impresses him, nothing amazes him, but he still has an honest eye for justice. And even amid all of his serious journalistic pursuits, he managed to get a few well-earned laughs out of me. Yet, while much of the film's first act works excellently, Hathaway's attempts at realism are soon thwarted by the good nature at the film's core. While Chicago is introduced as being historically amoral, Hathaway suggests that things may be on the upswing. Stewart may be a cynic, but his true colors begin to shine through as the film progresses. (And they are honest & Red, White, and Blue.) He does nothing for selfish gain and truly wants justice to prevail. This attitude appears to be infectious as citizens of the city continually come forth, proclaiming their own desire to see wrongs set right. It all climaxes in a clandestine court room hearing in which Stewart lectures the room on the meaning of lady justice. It is at times like these that the film ceases to be a realistic procedural and starts to feel a bit like "Mr. Smith Takes on the Justice System." Complete with an omniscient narrator telling the viewers "Yes, it's a good world outside." Were this a joint production by Hathaway and Capra, I would totally understand. But until then I will always be wondering what caused Hathaway to take such a sharp right in what was looking to be a very solid film.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

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