Classic Noir Goodness: Call Northside 777

As much as I love classic movies, sometimes I fall into the same trap that I find my kids succumbing to. I’m looking for something to watch, I find something that might be interesting, and then I discover it’s old–black and white, even–and my initial feeling is one of disappointment. Why is that? I love old movies, but sometimes I have to fight the urge to dismiss something because “it’s going to be too slow” or “I’m not in the mood.”

Silly, Bryce.

Call Northside 777 has been in my Netflix queue for quite a while now. I don’t know how it ended up in it. I don’t know how a lot of the films that are in that queue end up there. Magic, I suppose. I see a film, it looks intriguing, I add it, I forget I added it. But one way or another, Northside was there, and I’ve been passing over it for quite a while, too. Some of that ingrained anti-classic prejudice rearing its ugly head.

But come on–Jimmy Stewart? Noir? Why in the world was I avoiding it?

The film’s a solid outing. Stewart is a hard-nosed reporter (with a heart of gold, naturally), who’s assigned to investigate an 11 year old cop killing case. It seems open and shut at first, but as he digs deeper, he begins to wonder if the person who was convicted actually did it. Also noteworthy for being based on a true story. Is it as psychologically complex as it would likely be if done today? Well, no. It definitely irons out the characters into much more of a “good guy/bad guy” sort of thing–although not as much as I thought it would.

Also particularly noteworthy is the way technology plays into the climax. I don’t want to give it away, but I watched it and wondered if audiences sixty years from now will be viewing some of our tech movies the same way I viewed this one.

In any case, it’s an 8/10 for me. Definitely worth your time. Give it a shot.

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