“That’s the trouble with being innocent: you don’t know what really happened.”
With support from his editor (Lee J. Cobb), a determined reporter (James Stewart) investigates an ad posted by a washer-woman (Kasia Orzazewski) offering $5000 for information that will help free her wrongfully convicted son (Richard Conte), who was falsely accused by a speakeasy owner (Bette Garde) of shooting a cop during Prohibition.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Falsely Accused
- Henry Hathaway Films
- Jimmy Stewart Films
- Lee J. Cobb Films
- Murder Mystery
- Richard Conte Films
Based on a real-life story that won Chicago Times reporter James McGuire a Pulitzer Prize, this semi-documentary film remains a powerful investigative tale of two men (only one, Joseph Majczek, is focused on here) wrongfully convicted of murder, and the journalist who gradually comes to believe in their innocence. It’s filled with plenty of realistic details — including filming on site in Chicago at actual locations whenever possible, and demonstration of how a lie detector machine works (by its co-creator!) — and features appropriately atmospheric cinematography by Joe MacDonald. Stewart and Conte are both convincing in their respective roles, and there are several notable supporting performances as well. This one remains worth a look.
Note: Watch and listen carefully for Thelma Ritter in an uncredited role as a secretary; you should be able to recognize her distinctive voice.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine performances by the cast
- Joe MacDonald’s atmospheric cinematography
- Effective location shooting
- Many tense moments
Yes, as an overall powerful film.