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This is a little early to be a noir but it has a beautiful Expressionistic
look. It is shot in chiaroscuro much of the time.
Here, everyone is Irish. Barry Fitzgerald, the falsely accused, and Victor McLaglen, the real murderer.
There is an uneasy pious quality to the goings on, with a Roman Catholic priest as the central, and almost Christlike, figure.
When McLaglen finally confesses, he does so to the background of a heavenly choir.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Every once in a while, a small film comes along in Hollywood's history
that is wrapped in greatness, yet not full of itself. Such a film is
"Full Confession", a "B" picture from RKO in 1939, a year filmed with
incredible cinema. It is a story of the soul, one man possibly loosing
his life yet keeping his soul, the other intent on keeping his life yet
disposing of his own soul because he refuses to acknowledge the truth.
The third man is the person who knows the truth, yet he can do nothing
about it. You see, he is a priest, the man destined to live is a
murderer who happened to make a deathbed confession (yet lived), and
the man accused of the crime is on death row, living in peace, yet
leaving behind the desolate family who are heartbroken by his pending
Excellent performances surround a superb screenplay tightly wrapped in a short running time, and more is said in the moments where nothing is said. Victor McLaglen, the Oscar Winning actor of the similarly themed "The Informer", plays the character who was in prison for robbery when the innocent Barry Fitzgerald was arrested for the murder that McLaglen committed. Priest Joseph Calleia (cast in the rare non-villain role) can't reveal the truth per his vows, so the conflict is troublesome. Elisabeth Risdon is Fitzgerald's loving and concerned wife, a godly woman certain of her husband's innocence, while Sally Eilers is the only other person who has stood by McLaglen and believed in him. The spiritual connotation of the story is beautifully told and immediately understood, and there lies the strength of a film whose message lives for eternity.
Full Confession is an RKO B film starring Barry Fitzgerald, Victor
McLaglen, and Joseph Calleia.
Pat Sullivan (McLaglen) commits a murder, but another man, Michael O'Keefe (Fitzgerald) is accused of it.
Pat goes to prison for robbery and eventually is released. When he becomes ill and believes he's about to die, he confesses to Father Loma (Calleia).
When he doesn't die, the priest, close to the O'Keefe family as well as Pat, begs him to admit his crime. Because of the seal of confession, the priest himself can't turn him in.
Pat refuses; he has no intention of returning to prison and he wants to marry the woman who stood by him (Sally Eilers).
Good movie especially if you're a Catholic and religious. Its message is powerful no matter what you believe.
The film, directed by John Farrow, looks Expressionist.
Very well done.
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