CALL NORTHSIDE 777 (1948) B/W 111m dir: Henry Hathaway
w/James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, Helen Walker, Betty Garde, Kasia Orzazewski, Joanna De Bergh, Howard Smith, Moroni Olsen, John McIntire
From The Movie Guide: "One of the most impressive semi-documentary noir thrillers, CALL NORTHSIDE 777 was shot on location in Chicago in striking black-and-white by cinematographer Joe MacDonald. Renowned movie nice guy Jimmy Stewart stars in a change-of-pace characterization as a hard-boiled newspaper reporter who evolves from a skeptical news hound to a dedicated crusader when he investigates a decade-old cop killing based on the actual case of Joe Majczek of Chicago who was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
"Stewart is handed an assignment by editor Cobb: follow up a small ad that appeared in his newspaper offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man responsible for killing a policeman years earlier. Stewart learns that the ad was placed by a cleaning woman (Orzazewski) who has slaved for years to earn reward money for anyone able to clear her son of the murder. The cynical Stewart initially believes the convicted Conte is guilty but opts to write a human interest story about the loving mother. When the public reaction proves to be overwhelming, Cobb encourages Stewart to back up his original story with some more digging. As he investigates, Stewart unearths evidence that there was some police coverup in the case and that certain evidence is missing. His interest is piqued.
"Stewart effectively plays the part of Jim McGuire, the Chicago Times reporter who won the Pulitzer Prize for his investigative efforts, and the rest of the cast turn in fine, realistic performances. For Stewart, this film was a departure from the genial roles (though sometimes dark-tinged) for which he had become famous (IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, MAGIC TOWN); this performance paved the way for his more morally ambiguous and gritty characterizations for directors such as Hitchcock [ROPE, REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO] and Anthony Mann [THE NAKED SPUR, THE FAR COUNTRY, THE MAN FROM LARAMIE, etc.] in the 1950s. Director Hathaway had recently had a resounding success with the Ben Hecht story, KISS OF DEATH, also shot in a grim realistic style. [Alfred] Newman's moody score adds depth and feeling to the emotionally charged story."