Thursday, May 11, 2017

Call Northside 777
for supplies and technology

I sometimes wonder what Henry Hathaway’s office must have looked like. His 1945 film The House on 92nd Street is filled with supplies and technology: file drawers, ledgers, rubber stamps, teletype machines, the works. Call Northside 777 (1948), filmed (at least mostly) on location in Chicago, is a close second.

The Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Information has a wire file basket, files, desk lamps, and overhead caged lamps. Also cops:





The department’s Communication Center has desk lamps and schoolhouse fixtures. Also telephony:


[Is that a quart of milk to the front right?]


[The only proper reaction to this shot in 1948 or now: “It’s complicated.”]

P.J. McNeal (Jimmy Stewart), newspaper reporter, has a tiny camera. He’s almost a spy, having passed himself off as a detective:




[A nifty touch: Joseph MacDonald, the film’s cinematographer, shows us the arrest record as it comes into focus in McNeal’s viewfinder.]

McNeal also knows how to work a typewriter:



Someone else handles the Linotype:



The shots of signage that precede the scenes in the Bureau of Information and the Communication Center strongly suggest (at least to me) that these scenes were filmed on location. If not, they’re pretty remarkable sets.

I’ve left out two elements of technology, one of which might be a spoiler. The other is a Mongol pencil.

More Hathaway, offices, and supplies
A pocket notebook in The House on 92nd Street notebook sighting
Dixon Ticonderogas in The House on 92nd Street
A police station in Niagara

comments: 2

The Crow said...

I used to have one of those spy cameras! (Not the same model, though. Mine was more like a 007 model; sleek, shiny, brushed stainless steel. I felt so Honey-Westian when I used it.) The film was advanced by sliding the case horizontally; made a soft clicking sound when the new cell was in place.

Michael Leddy said...

Way cool!