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This is a 'lost' film which really deserves to be better known. It features excellent performances by Sidney Chaplin, Audrey Dalton, and Peter Hammond in the lead roles. Sidney Chaplin was a very good actor who suffered from the resentment of others at his being the son of Charlie Chaplin, which hurt his career. Being the son of a famous father can occasionally work for you (Michael Douglas, Beau Bridges), but usually works against you. I only met him and chatted to him once, but it was immediately obvious that he was a warm and pleasant fellow. His acting talent seems to me obvious, but it was constantly called into question by carpers and grumblers. He has the lead role in this film, and delivers with authority and skill. The film is set in an ambiguous location: in the script they call the town Teignmouth, which is in Devon, but they are reading a local paper called the 'Surrey Comet', which is 200 miles away. Never mind. It is a cozy little town, and the house is beside a village green, and everything should be idyllic, but it isn't. That's because Sidney comes back after years away in America where an American accent 'kind of brushes off on you'. And then the trouble begins. And what trouble that is. Hence the tension, which gets worse every minute. Audrey Dalton as his sister really is so charming and sweet and genuine, one of those English roses they don't grow any more. The film was directed by Ken Hughes, and was perfectly suited to his abilities. I knew Ken well later on, and although he had a big commercial success as director of 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', that was an accident, as he was not really a big picture director, he was meant for small and tight stories like 'Confession'. Ken had no head for facts. He was proudest of all at having directed 'Cromwell'. I never had the heart to tell dear Ken that it was all historically inaccurate, and I gave him old engravings of Roundheads to cheer him up. His pride and joy was the gigantic painting by Delvaux that dominated his living room in Hampstead. Ken was no highbrow, but he loved 'higher things'; he was an innocent abroad who never really grew up, and would give a pal the shirt off his back. This film is one of his finest achievements and I am pleased to be able to say so. It should get back into circulation, but then so should real money and silver dollars. If you can find it, don't hesitate.
The English director Ken Hughes isn't the most known director in the world,
though I seem to have watched three of his movies: "Casino Royale" (he was
one of the five directors), "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "Terror Eyes"
(a.k.a. "Night School", an acceptable American take on the giallo
phenomenon). Not that I knew this when I bought my copy of "Confession",
which I found in the Extreme Sales section of my local megastore. The movie
looked okay enough to spend 5 on (especially since it used to cost 30), so
I bought "Confession".
Also the names of Ken Hughes and Audrey Dalton vaguely rang a few bells.
Research post-purchase informed me Dalton also starred in "The Monster That
Challenged The World" and William Castle's "Mr. Sardonicus". There have been
"Confession" sounds a bit like Hitchcock's "I Confess" (released two years earlier), in that both movies feature a murder confessed in church and a priest who's bound by catholic law not to reveal what had been confessed. Even more striking is that both movies have been based on plays.
It would be wrong though to see "Confession" as only a copycat of the Hitchcock movie: only the theme is vaguely similar and the plot develops in different directions. For my money, "Confession" is the better film of the two, an incredibly underrated film which isn't easy to obtain (in 1994 Warner Bros released it on video in the UK, but that's the only version I've seen of the film).
The movie starts with a man confessing he's murdered a man. Why he confesses and why just that scene has been used to start the film will only be revealed half an hour later. After the credits we start with a flashback, where we watch how Louise welcomes her brother Mike who returned from a long stay in the US. Mike is portrayed by Sydney Chaplin who had an interesting career which kicked off with a Chaplin movie in 1952 ("Limelight") but ended with trashy horror like "Psycho Sisters" (1974) and "Satan's Cheerleaders" (1977). Why Mike has returned to England isn't quite clear, but he's always been someone who doesn't like to stay in one place for long. Though this time there might be another reason: Mike gets a phone call from somebody who demands his money. It's not long before somebody dies.
"Confession" doesn't work as a whodunit because we know who the murderer is. More interesting here is how all this affects the relationship between Mike and his family members. Equally interesting is the woman Mike meets in a bar (and how rude he is to her), but it's not completely clear to me what the writers tried to establish with these scenes. All in all this is a good movie and it's a shame the movie didn't get a better distribution.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** Coming back home to Britan from the USA on a one year
business trip Mike Nelson played by Sidney-Son of Charlie-Chaplin
brought in under customs inspectors noses $200,000.00 he knocked off
from a US bank that he stiffed his partner in crime Corey, Patrick
Allen, out off. Unknown to Nelson Corey has followed him back home to
get his share of the loot and is more then willing to kill to get it!
Agreeing to meet Corey to talk over business Nelson instead of being
honest and shearing the couples ill gotten gains with Corey tried to
murder him that results into a violent alley fight with Nelson getting
the worst of it. That's when Nelson's friend and sister Louise's,
Audrey Dalton,fiancé Alan Pool, Peter Hammond, shows up unexpectedly
and, as Nelson is getting his brains beat out, shoots Corey in the back
Coming up with a cock & bull cover story about Corey's death Nelson con-cocks this scenario that the two, he and Pool, were out drinking at the time that Corey was shot only to have Pool, feeling guilty in killing a human being, go to confession. It's there as the guilt ridden Pool spills his guts out to the priest Father Neil, John Welsh, that he shot and killed Corey and that Nelson, the man who together with Corey ripped off $200,000.00, was at the scene of the crime. Unknow to either Pool or Father Neil Nelson followed Pool into the church and before he could spill all the beans about Corey's death he himself is blasted from behind by Nelson with the gun that Pool shot Corey with! Now we all know who killed Corey- Alan Pool- and why: to protect and save Nelson's a**. But the big question is does Father Neil, whom Pool's confession to him was cut short, know who did it and will he tell the police about it!
***SPOILERS*** Not wanting to break the rules of the Catholic Church on revealing a personal confession Father Neil is caught between a rock and a hard place in putting his life on the line by not revealing what he knows with the by now crazed and paranoid Nelson gunning for him. Setting a trap for Nelson Scothland Yard Inspector Kessler, John Bentley, has him think that Father Neil who had no way to identify Nelson as Pool's murder, he only saw him from the back running out of the church, is about to finger him to the police thus bring him out into the open! And thus, by attempting to murder Father Neil, prove his guilt! Not at all thinking straight Neslon fall for the trap that Inspector Kessler set for him and when out of bullets, after he emptied his gun missing Father Neil, Nelson makes a run for it in the church's bell tower where the "Sounds of Music" or "Bells are Ringing" scrambled his brains and caused him, when Nelson just couldn't take it anymore, to fall to his death!
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