I Confess (1953)

I Confess (1953) is an Alfred Hitchcock man-in-a-dilemma noir in which a murder and confession collide when a priest is more than suspected of committing a murder, when he has already heard the confession of the real killer.

The priest and his best friend, young married woman Ruth Grandfort played by Anne Baxter, have other secrets and cop Karl Malden makes it his business to get to the bottom of it all, Malden being the force that keeps this whodunnit engaging and driving, as it spirals into faster increasing paranoia and fear, for the man who knows he did not commit the crime he is accused of.

Starring Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter and Karl Malden this exciting thriller jumps from point to point and in such great surroundings it is hard to resist.

Alfred Hitchcock sails in and out of the film noir style, but for shadows and photography alone, as well as the title which is a pure noir combo of title elements -- murder and the intimate individual. 

Alfred Hitchcock passes by in I Confess (1953)

Which way are we going? I Confess (1953)

Film noir photography in I Confess (1953)

Quebec City is a star like no other with an almost The Third Man style treatment at moments perhaps because of its intense European feel. The intense plains of the Canadian province are also represented in a love scene during which Anne Baxter and Montgomery Clift enjoy post-war happiness in the rain, and denied the farmhouse and the barn, in a gazebo -- before being interrupted by a lawyer in the countryside, the murdered man, in what is the very well hidden key to the tense mysteries of this young couple.

Montgomery Clift in I Confess (1953)

Quebec City is also framed by the diagonal edges of its stately sculpture and buildings, and by the ferry trips which the characters make -- moody and exciting, tense and romantic ferry trips, and of course some Hitchcockian paranoia, so enjoyable dealt by character actors playing 'who's the cop' -- a favourite of the old master.

Karl Malden in I Confess (1953)

The rectory handyman Otto Keller is criminal with flaws and is perfectly craven, and a friend to the camera, played by Otto Eduard Hasse. 

Hasse first appeared at theatres in Thale, Breslau, and from 1930 till 1939 at the Kammerspiele in Munich, where he also worked as a stage director for the first time. In 1939, he moved to the German Theatre in Prague and shortened his name to O.E. instead of Otto Eduard.

Anne Baxter in I Confess (1953)

In 1944, Hasse was conscripted to the Luftwaffe and slightly wounded. After World War II Hasse became a famous German film actor, also internationally appearing in the Alfred Hitchcock film I Confess (1953) with Montgomery Clift and Anne Baxter, and starring with Clark Gable and Lana Turner in Betrayed (1954). In 1959, he was a member of the jury at the 9th Berlin International Film Festival.

Hasse was the German dubbing voice of Charles Laughton, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable. 

Hasse styles the unbalanced Nazi with full power, pulling mad threats out his hat and waving a Luger, somewhat stereotyped as a refugee from recent war films. Even the super pretentious juxtaposition of the figure of Christ, complete with speared-up Romans, with the troubled priest is pure full on and enjoyable fun above all else -- the premise of drama for Alfred Hitchcock being never to strangle fluidity with credibility.

Karl Malden in I Confess (1953)

I Confess (1953) is a courtroom drama with a great big fun hook -- the priest played by Montgomery Clift cannot defend himself from the accusation of murder because it would mean breaking the Seal of the Confessional. A super-delicate performance from the great Montgomery Clift and the effect of Anne Baxter's loving performance watching the priest obliged to turn into a noir Christ, is more powerful than the seemingly gimmicky underpinnings of it all and possibly quite rigid premise.

The mob aspect of I Confess (1953) is strong first of all in the crowd that gathers at the murder victim's street and more keenly by the impatient and assailing mass of people that want to get the priest -- declared innocent by a jury but excitingly considered guilty by everybody -- including the judge.

How the rich entertain themselves in I Confess (1953)

This devout film noir is pleasingly short in length and because of its insistent visuals which keep the fun afloat. Of all its victims, the one that suffers most from this curt rendering of the faithly noir is the murder and martyrdom of Alma Keller, played by Dolly Haas.

Romantic interludes with Anne Baxter and Montgomery Clift in I Confess (1953)

That Alma is killed and then unfairly forgotten is in keeping with her permanently silenced role in the film noir, and is not even dying in the priest's arms, unable to articulate what needs to be said. The rigidity of the catholic church is kept a-looming at all times with several cathedral visits, as well as the aforementioned sculptures, incidental priests, and dipping into the stately parties of the Quebec City establishment.

That Alfred Hitchcock may by film noir is without doubt -- if Hitchcock may not be entirely noir -- generally being uniquely considered to be his own genre. If a film noir Catholic miracle is presented in Hitchcock's The Wrong Man (1956) this devout film noir pushes the idea of a heavenly law which is superior to that of the streets, and the laws of the land, including their judicial and coplike manifestations.

Humphrey Bogart in The Enforcer (1951) gets a shout out in I Confess (1953)

Christ and The Romans in I Confess (1953)

O.E. Hasse in I Confess (1953)

Montgomery Clift in I Confess (1953)

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