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Strange Confession (1945)

 -  Crime | Horror | Drama  -  5 October 1945 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 220 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 7 critic

A scientist who is working on a cure for influenza is victimized by his unscrupulous boss, who releases the vaccine before it's ready, resulting in the death of the scientist's young son.



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Title: Strange Confession (1945)

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Cast overview:
Jeffrey 'Jeff' Carter (as Lon Chaney)
Brenda Joyce ...
J. Carrol Naish ...
Roger Graham
Dave Curtis
Addison Richards ...
Dr. Williams
Mary Gordon ...
Mrs. O'Connor
George Chandler ...
Gregory Marshall ...
Tommy Carter (as Gregory Muradian)
Wilton Graff ...
Francis McDonald ...
José Hernandez (as Francis J. MacDonald)
Jack Norton ...
Boarder - Jack
Christian Rub ...
Mr. Moore


A distraught Jeff Carter arrives at a renowned lawyer's home with a mysterious bag and a confession he desperately wants heard. Jeff was an underpaid chemist working for unprincipled pharmaceutical tycoon Roger Graham, who takes the profit, as well as the credit, for Jeff's discoveries and hard work. When Graham prioritizes profits over safety, Jeff resigns and is blacklisted by his boss. A chastened Graham is later forced to relent and rehires Jeff under the latter's terms. He presses him to release an unproven influenza drug, but Jeff refuses and asks to go to South America to perfect the formula. The unscrupulous Graham uses the opportunity to release the drug as well as romance Jeff's attractive wife. When Jeff returns and finds that his son has died from the effects of the untested drug, he decides to take revenge. Written by Gabe Taverney (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


New heights of HORROR!


Crime | Horror | Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

5 October 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Missing Head  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Due to a rights dispute(being an unauthorized remake of 1934's "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head"), this film was not released to television with the other "Inner Sanctum" features. It was the fifth of the six entries, filmed February 1-14, 1945, and released October 5. After its theatrical reissue using the title "The Missing Head", the film vanished until its video release in the 1990s. See more »


Followed by Pillow of Death (1945) See more »

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User Reviews

Better Have A Good Head On Your Shoulders If You're Going to Double-Cross Lon Chaney Jr !
10 August 2011 | by (North Texas sticks (see all my reviews)) – See all my reviews

You would think no one would want to mess with the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, or Dracula -- all of whom the brawny, sinister-looking Lon Chaney Jr would play during his years on the silver screen. However, in Strange Confession he plays a good-natured, altruistic chemist, interested only in helping mankind by finding cures for diseases. So it's not surprising the amoral boss of the pharmaceutical lab he works for, played with slimy sophistication by J. Carrol Nash, takes advantage of his naive employee. It was bad enough he took credit and even won awards for Chaney's discoveries. But now he sends his star chemist out of the country so he can start selling an unproven influenza remedy Chaney would have objected was not reliable, and even more dastardly, so he can hit on Chaney's wife. When Chaney returns home unexpectedly and is confronted with all the distressing developments which have accrued from his sneaky boss's nefarious doings, look out! No more Mr. Nice Guy!

Strange Confession is one of the best of Universal Studio's six spooky little "B" potboilers inspired by the popular "Inner Sanctum" radio show. Each stared Chaney, enjoying a change of pace from his monster image as a suave, nattily dressed leading man. Instead of monster or moron, as in Of Mice And Men, in these nifty little thrillers he plays sophisticated, well-educated men, variously a psychiatrist, a professor, an artist, a hypnotist, a chemist, and an attorney. In the line of duty he receives the sexy attentions of some of Old Hollywood B-movie land's most beautiful babes, the glamorous likes of Evelyn Ankers, Anne Gynne, Patricia Morrison, Aquanetta, Elena Verdugo, and the afore-mentioned pretty Miss Joyce. Wow! Must have been an ego boost for he not-so-handsome Chaney. Could all the cigarettes he smoked in these movies have been to cover up the steam coming out of his ears!

But Chaney was a better actor than his later unrewarding roles would indicate, and he carries these short but quite good little movies with his measured portrayals of the tormented heroes. I would rate Strange Confession as the third best of the series with Weird Woman (see my review) as the best. Calling Dr. Death (1943), first in the series, perhaps has a slight edge over Strange in spite of lesser production values, because it incorporates a strong mystery-suspense angle with a tense psychological element. Strange Confession is more of a straight melodrama and the least spooky of the series. Also, Dr. Death gets a boost from the always reliable Nash's scintillating performance as a sardonic detective. Because the six pictures of the series were big studio second features, rather than impoverished independent "B" productions, a lot of mileage was made out of small budgets by borrowing sets from other, often bigger productions and by tapping a stable of on-the-payroll solid character actors such as Nash, Thomas Gomez, Milburn Stone, Douglas Dumbrille, Lloyd Bridges, and Ralph Morgan. While tacky looking in places, these little flicks are not without artistic merit. Though seldom mentioned in the context, all six movies are fine examples of the period film noir style, all loaded with night scenes, darkly shadowed and obliquely angled cinematography, femme fa-tales, doom-laden ambiance, and themes of murder, corruption, and betrayal. All the Sanctums are well-acted, well-directed, handsomely filmed, and stylishly scored.

Strange Confession and the rest of the Inner Sanctum series are enduring examples of how the big studios of Hollywood's Golden Era could turn out good-looking, entertaining pictures while only half-way trying. Once you have watched the entire series on Universal's economically priced album of meticulously restored DVD's, you may wish, as yours truly does, they had made sixty of them, instead of only six!

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