Saturday, June 23, 2007

I CONFESS


I CONFESS (1953, USA)
Hasn't God forgiven me, thanks to you? The police never would.

Alfred Hitchcock was raised a Catholic, and if this isn't his best – or best-known – film, it's certainly his most explicitly spiritual. In the 1930s, Hitch saw a stage production of Paul Anthelme's turn of the century drama Nos deux consciences, and its story about an innocent priest accused of murder haunted him for years. This "transference of guilt" theme shows up in any number of his films: here, the Master Of Suspense tells the story with images that connect Father Logan with Christ, suffering for sins he didn't commit and refusing to answer his accusers. The ending Hitchcock intended to shoot underlined the symbolic connection with Jesus as sacrificial victim, but the one he actually shot is more satisfying at a human level.

It really is a compelling premise: the seal of the confessional forbids Logan from identifying the real murderer, a frightened parishioner who ends up turning suspicion in the priest's direction. I'm not convinced this film does all it could with the material: though French critics and Canadian movie buffs make much of the flick, I'm not sure it's more than a workmanlike rendering of a potentially powerful examination of conscience and moral paradox, rendered a bit flat by Monty Clift's limited range in the central role. Still, it has its strengths, and makes a doozy of a double feature with Robert Lepage's LE CONFESSIONNAL, which centres its events around the filming of Hitchcock's film in picturesque Quebec City.

MORTAL SINS, THE ROSARY MURDERS


Available at Videomatica

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