DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

CHICAGO CALLING (director/writer: John Reinhardt; screenwriter: Peter Berneis; cinematographer: Robert de Grasse; editor: Arthur H. Nadel; music: Heinz Roemheld; cast: Dan Duryea (Bill Cannon), Mary Anderson (Mary Cannon), Gordon Gebert (Bobby), Ross Elliott (Jim), Marsha Jones (Peggy), Melinda Plowman (Nancy Cannon), Judy Brubaker (Barbara 'Babs' Kimball), Roy Engel (Pete), Bob Fallon (Art), Norman Field (Railroad Switchman), Dick Curtis (Road Gang Foreman), Jean Harvey (Christine); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Peter Berneis; WB Archive Collection; 1951)

"The slight premise works because Duryea gives a convincing and sympathetic performance of a shattered man."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Reinhardt ("High Tide"/"The Guilty"/"For You I Die") directs and co-writes with Peter Berneis this tender melodrama about a nice guy family man falling apart when his wife leaves him because he's an alcoholic.

LA residing Bill Cannon (Dan Duryea) is an out of work photographer who comes home in the morning after a night of drinking and learns his lovely wife Mary (Mary Anderson) is finally leaving him and taking with her their precious little daughter Nancy (Melinda Plowman), and they will live with her mother in Baltimore. Mom and daughter share a car ride with others cross country to save expenses. The next day Bill receives a telegram that there was a car accident outside of Chicago and the injured Nancy will be operated on tomorrow, and Mary will call with the results. But since the family owes $53 for an overdue bill, the phone will be removed. The distraught Bill can't figure a way to raise the money in time to keep the phone, but through the kindness of strangers he tries to overcome his cruel fate and battle through the coldness of others. The kindly telephone lineman Jim (Ross Elliott) delays taking out the phone, the outdoor hamburger stand waitress Peggy (Marsha Jones) slips him $5 and the feisty delivery boy Bobby (Gordon Gebert) offers his bank savings and warm companionship.

The slight premise works because Duryea gives a convincing and sympathetic performance of a shattered man, whose past actions have come back to haunt an otherwise good person. It also does a fine job in capturing a working-class LA neighborhood. The minor melodrama, despite its contrived plot, won my heart over with its hopeful message that in spite of tragedy one can renew life if one takes a fresh outlook.

REVIEWED ON 5/22/2014       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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