I Confess (1953)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Lifeboat; Stage Fright)
Overview: When a murderer confesses his crime to a priest, that priest's oath binds him to secrecy, making things far more difficult when he becomes the prime suspect.
Acting: Well, I dig the Clift. He has this subtle way of instantly transforming his face from happy and calm to *BOING* shocked and stressed! He's a natural at that, and it seems he's perfectly suited at the dramatic role. it was a little weird seeing the ultra-American Karl Malden (A Streetcar Named Desire; Patton) in this story set in Quebec City playing some tough cop, but he did a great job of it, even if the script forced him there.
Cinematography: I was told that this was a beautiful movie. By that I expected panoramic shots of the old Quebec that it's set in. Yes, there were a few, and for as much as old winding cobbled roads are cool, this is mostly close-ups and dialogue, not really conducive to the feel of intense cinematography. Some films are just not built for the look, no matter how hard they try to silhouette stuff. Hitchcock does what he can, and pulls it off, but it's not as pretty as say, The Trouble With Harry, with the New England leaves of fall.
Script: The way this dialogue works is annoying to the French it would seem. Anyone who knows Quebec City knows that people don't speak English there, cause they'd get tarred and feathered for being a Queen's loyalist. At the same time, there's the occasional French word spoken to illustrate the setting better. Monsieux Verdoux does this and it sucks, but it doesn't suck in I Confess, don't ask me why. That ultra-minor thing aside, the script is all about letting us in on something just long enough to make us think of one thing, then blurting it out to see if we're right or not. Pretty intense at times, for sure.
Plot: The biggest issue I had with the film was the entire premise, which is a bit of a kick in the pants. While watching the film I was content with the suspension of disbelief, but Girlfriend of Squish kept ruining the moment by saying, "uh, instead of saying "I can't say", why doesn't he say, "My oath prevents me from divulging information learned during confession." Damn her left-brain mind. Damn it to HELL!
Mood: The theme is secrets. Secrets upon secrets, secrets of the past clashing with oaths and life decisions needing to be considered all too quickly. The mystery elements of this film are the most fun and right when you realize "oh there's something", there's something new to take it's place. Yes indeed, it sparks the mind with new things, that's the fun, peeling away the layers.