IMDb > True Confessions (1981)
True Confessions
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True Confessions (1981) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 10% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
John Gregory Dunne (novel)
John Gregory Dunne (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for True Confessions on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
25 September 1981 (USA) See more »
A worldly ambitious monsignor clashes with his older brother, a cynical Los Angeles homicide detective who is investigating the brutal murder of a young prostitute. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
3 wins & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Complex, thoughtful character piece See more (59 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Robert De Niro ... Father Des Spellacy (as Robert DeNiro)

Robert Duvall ... Det. Tom Spellacy

Charles Durning ... Jack Amsterdam

Kenneth McMillan ... Frank Crotty

Ed Flanders ... Dan T. Campion

Cyril Cusack ... Cardinal Danaher

Burgess Meredith ... Msgr. Seamus Fargo
Rose Gregorio ... Brenda Samuels

Dan Hedaya ... Howard Terkel

Gwen Van Dam ... Mrs. Fazenda
Thomas Hill ... Mr. Fazenda (as Tom Hill)

Jeanette Nolan ... Mrs. Spellacy
Jorge Cervera Jr. ... Eduardo Duarte
Susan Myers ... Bride

Louisa Moritz ... Whore

Darwyn Carson ... Lorna Keane
Pat Corley ... Sonny McDonough
Matthew Faison ... Reporter #2
Richard Foronjy ... Ambulance Driver
Joseph G. Medalis ... Deputy Coroner (as Joe Medalis)

James Hong ... Coroner Wong
Ron Ryan ... Detective #1
Louis Basile ... Detective #3
Louise Lewis ... Older Nun (as Louise Fitch)
Margery Nelson ... Nun #2
Fredric Cook ... Brenda's Trick
Kirk Brennan ... Acolyte Toomey
Fred Dennis ... Man
Shelly Batt ... Girl
Mary Munday ... Nun
Colin Hamilton ... Headwaiter
Missy Cleveland ... Lois Fazenda (as Amanda Cleveland)
Pierrino Mascarino ... Suspect
Michael Callahan Sr. ... Sub Deacon
Hary Pavelis ... Cardinal's Attendant

Luisa Leschin ... Tower Girl
Robert Arthur ... Newscaster #1 (as Bob Arthur)
Bill Furnell ... Newscaster #2
Sig Frohlich ... Waiter
Steve Arvin ... V.O. Radio Announcer
Paul Valentine ... Detective #2

Stephen Powers ... Photographer (as Steve Powers)
Joseph H. Choi ... Pathologist (as Dr. Joseph H. Choi M.D.)
Sharon Miller ... Movie Star

Kevin Breslin ... Boy #1
Jeff Howard ... Priest #2
Harry Duncan ... Priest at Banquest
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Randy Gitsch ... Silent Bit Player / Waiter (uncredited)
Henry Goldscher ... Barber (uncredited)
Johnny Marlin ... Waiter (uncredited)
Paul Purdell ... Reporter in train station (uncredited)

Directed by
Ulu Grosbard 
Writing credits
John Gregory Dunne (novel "True Confessions")

John Gregory Dunne (screenplay) and
Joan Didion (screenplay)

Gary S. Hall  uncredited

Produced by
James D. Brubaker .... associate producer
Robert Chartoff .... producer
Irwin Winkler .... producer
Original Music by
Georges Delerue 
Cinematography by
Owen Roizman 
Film Editing by
Lynzee Klingman 
Production Design by
Stephen B. Grimes  (as Stephen S. Grimes)
Art Direction by
W. Stewart Campbell 
Set Decoration by
Marvin March 
Costume Design by
Joe I. Tompkins 
Makeup Department
Vivian McAteer .... hair stylist
Jean Burt Reilly .... hair stylist
Michael Westmore .... makeup designer
Production Management
James D. Brubaker .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William M. Elvin .... second assistant director (as Bill Elvin)
Duncan Henderson .... second assistant director (as Duncan S. Henderson)
Thomas J. Mack .... first assistant director (as Tom Mack)
Art Department
Nick F. Caprarelli .... set dresser (as Nick Caprarelli)
Emily Ferry .... property master
Al Litteken .... construction coordinator
Ida Random .... assistant art director
Joy Taylor .... assistant property master (as M. Joy Taylor)
Mick Walker .... set designer (as Michael J. Walker)
Maurice Zuberano .... production illustrator
Craig B. Ayers Sr. .... greens foreman (uncredited)
Lance Lombardo .... props (uncredited)
Sound Department
Gary S. Gerlich .... sound effects editor
Rick Kline .... sound re-recording engineer
Bobbe Kurtz .... sound effects editor
Victoria Martin .... assistant sound effects editor
Chris McLaughlin .... production sound
Donald O. Mitchell .... re-recording engineer (as Donald Mitchell)
Bill Nicholson .... re-recording engineer
Chester Slomka .... sound effects editor
Jim Stuebe .... cable person (as James Steube)
Frank E. Warner .... supervising sound effects editor (as Frank Warner)
James E. Webb .... production sound mixer (as James E. Webb Jr.)
Bill Wylie .... sound effects editor
Special Effects by
Howard Jensen .... special effects
Eddie Hice .... stunts
Ron Stein .... stunt coordinator
Ron Stein .... stunts
Jack Verbois .... stunts
Camera and Electrical Department
Eugene Earle .... second assistant camera (as Eugene P. Earle)
James Glennon .... camera operator
Rob Hahn .... first assistant camera
Gary Holt .... gaffer
Christine M. Loss .... still photographer (as Christine Loss)
Bob Rose .... key grip
Tim Ryan .... dolly grip
Gary Van Auken .... best boy
Garrett Brown .... Steadicam operator (uncredited)
Chris Strong .... electrician (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Betty M. Nowell .... costumer: women
Andrea E. Weaver .... costume supervisor (as Andrea Weaver)
Robert Iannaccone .... set costumer (uncredited)
Joan Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Sandra Adair .... first assistant editor (as Sandra Estrin Adair)
Charles Bornstein .... first assistant editor
Bill Yahraus .... associate film editor
Music Department
Jim Henrikson .... music editor
Paul Salamunovich .... choir conductor: St. Charles Borromeo Choir (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Russell McEntyre .... transportation coordinator
Ed Wirth .... transportation co-captain (as Edward A. Wirth)
Other crew
Dale Benson .... location manager
Jerry Chinn .... craft service (as Jerry D. Chinn)
Janet Crosby .... assistant to producers
Charlie Davidson .... production accountant (as 'Charlie' Davidson)
Henry Fehren .... religious technical advisor
S. Howard Friedland .... first aid (as Howard Friedland)
Vic Heutschy .... unit publicist
Sharon Mann .... production associate
Wendie Margolis .... assistant: Ulu Grosbard
JoAnn May-Pavey .... production office coordinator (as Jo Ann May-Pavey)
Gail Mutrux .... creative associate
Phill Norman .... title designer
Alfonse L. Palermo .... choreographer
Hannah Scheel .... script supervisor (as Hannah Scheel Morgan)
Eric Schwab .... location scout
Lori Sussman .... assistant to producers
Paul Salamunovich .... vocal coach for Robert De Niro (uncredited)
Donna Smith .... production coordinator (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
108 min | Spain:110 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

This film was made and released about four years after the source novel of the same name by John Gregory Dunne was first published in 1977. Dunne also collaborated on the screenplay.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When Tom takes off his radiator cap after his car overheats, what looks like a chunk of dry ice shoots out of the radiator.See more »
Tom Spellacy:How's ma? Is she still eating with her fingers?
Des Spellacy:Well, she says the early Christian martyrs didn't have spoons.
Tom Spellacy:Tell her they didn't have Instant Cream of Wheat, either.
See more »
Movie Connections:
References Elephant Boy (1937)See more »
Memories of YouSee more »


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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful.
Complex, thoughtful character piece, 10 December 2003
Author: carnivalofsouls from Australia

Adapted by the talented husband and wife team of Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne from the latter's novel, "True Confessions" is not a film likely to please everyone. It is a character study dressed as a detective film, following two brothers, one a priest the other a detective. Both characters are flawed and corrupt in one way or another, but over the course of a murder investigation both men find their means of salvation.

Focusing on atmosphere and characterisation rather than suspense, "True Confessions" marked another triumph for director Ulu Grosbard, director of the two criminally underrated classics "Who is Harry Kellerman?" and "Straight Time". The performances in the film are excellent, with Duvall and De Niro simply superb as the two protagonists, particularly the latter in an effectively subdued role. Loosely based on the infamous Black Dahlia case, the film will madden those expecting the film to follow the structure and pacing of a conventional genre film. Yet for those who want something more intelligent and thoughtful, "True Confessions" is a rewarding experience.

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