The deep black film noir images early in the story are photographically the best, though the whole film has stark beauty, & on-location shots in Quebec pay off in ways back-lot sets rarely equal.
The story seems hoary now as who hasn't seen a half-dozen television crime-drama episodes wherein a priest could clear himself if he unsealed the sanctity of the confessional. This may have been just as hoary in the 1950s, but more from pulp magazines than movies.
It's a marvelous minimalist performance from Montgomery Clift whose dewy-eyed gazes manage to reveal more of the character than any scenery-chewing emotionalism could've done.
Some of Hitch's later & better known films are marred by having become museums of kitsch costuming. I Confess has a more timeless look to it & is aging especially well.
A final point of interest, it's typical that a Hitch protagonist is a victim, often desperate, unable to prove his innocence, sometimes not even to himself. In this case the priest could've given evidence against the guilty party at any time, & is not faithful so much to the man who revealed his crime in the confessional, as he was faithful to his priestly vows. Clift's character is certain in himself that his religious choice was & remains his correct path. He thus comes off as much more heroic than the typical Hitchock protagonist, even while the world caves in upon him.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl