I Confess (1953)
What a terrific plot! A certain well known lawyer, Monsieur Vilette, is murdered in Quebec city and all the police have to go by is a testimony of two young girls who saw a priest out late the hour the crime was committed. Under inspection, Father Logan (Montgomery Clift) feels tormented and looks guilty but not for the reason the police think. In fact, Father Logan knows exactly what happened to Monsieur Vilette. He had been visited by Otto Keller (O.E. Hasse), caretaker of his parish, very late the night of the murder. Otto came to Father Logan to confess his guilt in murdering the wealthy lawyer. And we all know that a priest cannot disclose what he has learned in confessional.
It worsens when the police (led by Inspector Larrue, Karl Malden) find a motive associated with Father Logan. Monsieur Vilette was blackmailing an old friend and once lover of Father Logan, Ruth Grandfort (Anne Baxter). Unable to find a suitable alibi (he was indeed out that night), Father Logan is put to trial. Will he keep the confidence of Otto, only to be convicted? Or will he succumb and rat out the murderer to save his skin? The plot builds in suspense excellently, another of Hitchcock’s great “audience as voyeur” examples.
A few notes: What is it with screen priests always being young and good looking. Montgomery Clift is nothing short of gorgeous, extremely talented, and underrated. In case you were wondering.
I find it difficult to take Anne Baxter seriously. After All About Eve (one of my favorites) I can’t help but believe her motives to be anything but sinister, her eyes still have that calculating flicker. But Eve set aside, she isn’t my favorite of actresses, nor is she the most talented. Nothin’ special.
This is one of Hitch’s lesser-known productions, but I think it’s nonetheless worth watching – for die-hard fans, absolutely, but even for beginning Hitchcock students. It doesn’t have the usual humor found in his movies, but it is captivating and suspensful. The DVD-version is excellent with beautiful black-and-white photography. And did I mention that Montgomery Clift is gorgeous? 8/10