blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

I Confess (1953, Alfred Hitchcock)

Montgomery Clift stars in I CONFESS, directed by Alfred Hitchcock for Warner Bros.

I Confess is unwieldy.

Director Hitchcock is extremely precise in his composition, the same goes for Robert Burks' photography (especially the photography) and Rudi Fehr's editing (which changes in harshness based on the story's tone); sure, Dimitri Tiomkin's music is all over the place and intrusive, but it fits the script. George Tabori and William Archibald's ties together three very different stories–Confess is from a play, which explains some of the problems–but the end result is a disservice to the fine production values and some wonderful acting.

Besides the disjointed nature of the narrative, which keeps a big secret from the audience for the first fifteen minutes for a pointless surprise. The film never recovers from it, right up until the last scene.

Hitchock just has too many MacGuffins–is Confess about priest Montgomery Clift's struggle to cope with evil rectory worker O.E. Hasse's confession, is it about Clift's struggle to figure things out with pre-vows love Anne Baxter, is it about Clift trying to evade bulldog (but inept) police inspector Karl Malden's investigation? No, it's about all three and none at all.

Clift is phenomenal in the film, even though he only has a handful of full scenes. Hitchcock seems more comfortable having him silently react to events; Clift's great at such reactions, he's just capable of a lot more.

Instead, Hitchcock gives Baxter some big dialogue scenes and she nails them.

Thanks to the script, I Confess wastes its potential (Clift, Baxter, the gorgeous Canadian locations and everything else).



Directed by Alfred Hitchcock; screenplay by George Tabori and William Archibald, based on a play by Paul Anthelme; director of photography, Robert Burks; edited by Rudi Fehr; music by Dimitri Tiomkin; produced by Sidney Bernstein and Hitchcock; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Montgomery Clift (Father Michael Logan), Anne Baxter (Ruth Grandfort), Karl Malden (Inspector Larrue), Brian Aherne (Willy Robertson), O.E. Hasse (Otto Keller), Roger Dann (Pierre Grandfort), Dolly Haas (Alma Keller) and Charles Andre (Father Millars).




4 responses to “I Confess (1953, Alfred Hitchcock)”

  1. I agree with your analysis of “I Confess”. This film has a great premise, a terrific cast and ALFRED HITCHCOCK for pete sake, but it never really gels for me. However, I still try to watch it each time it’s on TCM because, you know, it’s filmed in Canada. But it still makes me annoyed.

    Thank you, though, for joining the blogathon and including this film.

  2. I Confess is a problematic movie even though I like it, the leads are good but have little chemistry and aren’t helped by holes in the story. Still, interesting to look at for its place in Hitchcock’s lineup and in this event, for its gorgeous, atmospheric use of the Quebec setting. Thanks for joining in.

  3. I don’t know how I missed this Hitchcock movie. I thought I had seen them all. Even though it sounds like it has problems, I would still like to see it. At the very least I can enjoy the Canadian scenery. Thanks for your review.

  4. I tried watching I CONFESS several years ago, but couldn’t get into it for the reasons you describe here, despite the presence of Clift and Baxter. I will say the film did provide a footnote to one of my favorite Canadian films, LE CONFESSIONAL, by artist/actor Robert LePage, as part of the movie is about the making of Hitchcock’s film (Kristin Scott Thomas plays Hitchcock’s assistant and translator). It’s hard to find, but if you come across it, it’s well worth seeking out.

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