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The Times (20/Apr/1953) - Entertainments: I Confess

(c) The Times (20/Apr/1953)

I Confess. — This film is directed by Mr. Alfred Hitchcock and it lacks two things normally connected with his name and work -first, that moment when he springs a surprise on the audience, a respectable man, as it were, suddenly rounding on a friend with a drawn revolver, and, secondly, the careful building up of suspense. Suspense, in a measure, there certainly is, and Mr. Hitchcock loses no time in making it clear what form it will take, but it is suspense without its mainspring. The setting is Quebec; a shady lawyer is murdered, and a German refugee (Mr. O. E. Hasse) who has been befriended by a priest, Father Michael (Mr. Montgomery Clift), confesses to the crime. Father Michael himself, however, through his old relationship with Ruth (Miss Anne Baxter) has been involved in the lawyer's blackmailing activities, and soon the police are able to build up a case against him. There, then, is the suspense — will the priest keep the secret of the Confessional in the face of the deadly danger in which he stands? The wisdom of introducing, a sacred subject into a "thriller" is dubious, and the film seems conscious of disturbance and disharmony at the centre of balance. A conventional chase through a luxury hotel is an admission of the failure of the original idea to survive intact, and never does Mr. Clift suggest a man in any touch with the things of the spirit. There are some excellent individual scenes, however, and Mr. Karl Madden, as the police inspector who brings Father Michael within the shadow of the noose, acts every one else off the screen.