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Genres: Crime , Drama , Film-Noir
Actors: James Stewart , Richard Conte , Lee J. Cobb , Helen Walker , Betty Garde , Kasia Orzazewski , Joanne De Bergh , Howard Smith , Moroni Olsen , John McIntire , Paul Harvey
Director: Henry Hathaway
Country: United States
Year: 1948
IMDB Rating: 7.4/10 (3933 votes)

In 1932, a cop is killed and Frank Wiecek sentenced to life. Eleven years later, a newspaper ad by Frank’s mother leads Chicago reporter P.J. O’Neal to look into the case. For some time, O’Neal continues to believe Frank guilty. But when he starts to change his mind, he meets increased resistance from authorities unwilling to be proved wrong.

Film Review

James Stewart is terrific in this 1948 documentary-style drama. He plays journalist Jim McNeal, who is sent to cover a story of a man who has been in prison for eleven years, for murdering a policeman found guilty – on the testimony of just one eyewitness (despite two other witnesses saying that he was not the killer). The film is based on the the true story of Joseph Majczek, although here his name is changed to Frank Wiecek.Initially, McNeal is sceptical and thinks that Wiecek is probably guilty, and covers the story purely because his editor )Lee J. Cobb) wants him to. However, as he uncovers more about what happened, McNeal starts to believe that the man is innocent and becomes determined to try and prove it.The documentary-style really works, with a voice-over – which isn't overused and therefore isn't intrusive – giving salient facts to the viewer, and showing the action through McNeal's eyes.This is the sort of role that James Stewart was perfect f…

Eleven years after being given life sentences for killing a Chicago cop during the Prohibition years, two shady-seeming guys are still protesting their innocence; propelled by the mother of one of the prisoners, a somewhat-doubtful newspaper reporter writes a series of popular stories which may uncover the truth. Criminal case based on fact, directed by Henry Hathaway in a modest, unostentatious fashion. What the film lacks in dramatic excitement is not compensated for by a predictable wrap-up, and James Stewart as the reporter gives his usual unassuming, square-chap performance. The straightforward handling kills any tension or suspense about the outcome, and the newspaper-biz clichés are all irritatingly in place. This might have been perfect material for the "Playhouse 90" series on television, but as a theatrical feature it feels anemic. ** from ****

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