I Confess (1953)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Hitchcock's Confession: A Look At I Confess
Featurette-Gala Canadian Premiere For "I Confess"
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1953
Running Time 90:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock

Warner Home Video
Starring Montgomery Clift
Anne Baxter
Karl Malden
Brian Aherne
Roger Dann
Dolly Haas
Charles Andre
O.E. Hasse
Judson Pratt
Ovila Légaré
Gilles Pelletier
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Dimitri Tiomkin

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film is the second oldest of the four films included in the newly released Warner Home Video collection of Alfred Hitchcock films made for Warners between 1950 and 1957. They are not available separately. The review of the oldest film, Stage Fright, is here. As I divulge in that review, I am a lover of Hitchcock's work.

    I Confess is a more serious film than many Hitchcocks, despite a running joke about a bicycle. The story focuses on Father Michael Logan (Montgomery Clift), a junior priest at a church in Quebec, who also fought in the war before joining the priesthood. Late one night he is in the church when the handyman who works at the church comes rushing up to him wanting to confess. His name is Otto Keller (O.E. Hasse) and he confesses that he has killed local lawyer, Mr Villette. He is a German refugee who Logan has helped to get settled in Canada, and find work. His wife Alma (Dolly Haas) also works at the church. Of course, Logan is restricted by his vows as a Catholic priest from ever revealing what he has heard in confession. The next morning, Keller decides that he should turn up to Mr Villette's house (where he tends the garden once a week) as normal, and innocently find the body. The crime is investigated by hard-nosed detective, Mr Larrue (Karl Malden), who begins to believe that the crime has been committed by Father Logan. He believes this due to some circumstantial evidence, and Logan's reluctance to discuss where he was at the time of the killing and his relationship with a woman who Larrue sees him with. The woman is Mrs Ruth Grandfort (Anne Baxter) whose husband, Pierre, is a member of parliament and good friends with the crown prosecutor, Robertson (Brian Ahearne). To describe the plot any further would spoil the various twists and turns for those who have not seen it.

    This is another high quality film from the mind of Alfred Hitchcock, and includes many of his signature techniques. This film is very impressive visually with excellent usage of dark, light and shadows to portray menace or mystery, such as the shot of the man in the cassock running down the darkened street or the whole meeting of Logan and Keller in the church. The opening is also interesting with the use of direction signs to point to the body of Villette. Also, as usual for Hitchcock, characters' eyes are very important either in close-up or just in the way they react to other people. In the included documentary one of the film historians refers to Hitchcock showing you people thinking rather than doing something which is a very good description. The Hitchcock appearance comes early in this film at 1:30. The interview scenes are quite tense and the interaction between Clift and Malden is great to watch. The acting is excellent throughout. It is interesting that Keller's wife has been given the same name as Hitchcock's own wife Alma Reville. Plot wise this film is not about working out who did the killing but rather whether the priest will break his vows to clear his name or break a confidence.

    So, another high quality tense thriller from Alfred Hitchcock, this time based upon a play by Paul Anthelme.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good for a film of this age, significantly better than Stage Fright.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is very close to the original Academy ratio of 1.37:1.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout despite the grain, with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was good, however some scenes were designed to have impenetrable blacks with only faces lit, such as the church confession scene.

    The black and white contrast was good with blacks dark and solid and good distinction between the various shades of grey and white.

    Artefacts were present as you would expect with a film of this age, however they were nowhere near as bad as Stage Fright. I noticed some minor aliasing on stairs at 1:30, a heater at 41:13 and grilles at 88:39. There was also some minor edge enhancement. On the film artefacts front, I noticed some minor specks and some lines, for example at 2:34. There were also some flashes of film artefact at 34:54, 64:24 & 83:00. Generally, not too bad.

    There are subtitles in 6 languages including English & English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear, easy to read and very close to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 57:08 and is very well hidden.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French & Italian.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync, although the subtitles occasionally came in handy, especially with some of the accents.

    The score of this film by Dimitri Tiomkin is excellent significantly adding to the feel and tension of the film.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu included stills, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

Hitchcock's Confession : A Look At I Confess (20:41)

    An interesting featurette on the film including a number of film historians' viewpoints. There is discussion about the various devices used by Hitchcock during the film such as the lighting and various plot elements which the censors forced him to remove from the script including Logan dying and an illegitimate child. Also includes interviews with a close friend of Montgomery Clift and Patricia Hitchcock. There is also discussion of the less than glowing reviews for the film on initial release. Made in 2004.

Gala Canadian Premiere for I Confess (0:57)

    Short newsreel footage of the premiere.

Theatrical Trailer (2:41)

    Not a bad trailer, very much of its time, with writing over the screen and a voiceover.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is in the same format as that in Region 1 except for PAL/NTSC differences.


    Another high quality film from the mind of Alfred Hitchcock featuring an excellent performance by Montgomery Clift as a priest struggling with his conscience.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    The disc has a small selection of interesting extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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