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True Confessions (1981) Poster

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This was the first film that Robert De Niro did after Raging Bull (1980). He kept some of the weight that he gained for Raging Bull because he felt that it better fit the character, although he still had to drop 25 kg (55 pounds).
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To prepare for his role as Detective Tom Spellacy, actor Robert Duvall went on the night-beat with real-life Los Angeles area homicide detectives. Duvall also went on a stake-out, witnessed the administration of a lie-detector test and visited a real murder victim crime scene.
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The movie is based on the real unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short who was known as the Black Dahlia. The film used facts from this case as story elements. The Black Dahlia murder case made media headlines in 1947, this film was made and released about thirty-four years after this.
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Real life historical 1940s Los Angeles locations used in the film included various LA churches, Echo Park, Union Station, Olvera Street, the Biltmore Hotel and Chinatown.
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The film's marketing boasted the star-teaming of the two ROBERTs - 'Robert de Niro' and Robert Duvall. The film's marketing also emphasized alliteration of their last names: "DE NIRO --- DUVALL. True Confessions." De Niro and Duvall had been rivals for the Best Actor Oscar at 1981's Academy Awards just six months before the film launched stateside. Duvall had been up for The Great Santini (1979) but de Niro won for Raging Bull (1980). Neither were Best Actor Oscar nominated for this movie as expected by industry insiders but the two were jointly awarded the Best Actor Golden Phoenix Award for their performances in this film. Duvall and de Niro had both previously appeared in The Godfather: Part II (1974) but they never appeared together in the same scene but finally in this movie they did.
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When he was filming of the fight scene at the testimonial dinner, Grosbard never informed the extras that there would be a fight. When it occurred their reactions were genuine.
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For the scenes involving the elderly Father Des Spellacy in the film's prologue and epilogue, actor 'Robert de Niro' had to undergo make-up preparation sessions that went for four hours.
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The vestments worn by Robert De Niro in the opening scene were later donated to St. Agnes parish in St. Paul, MN.
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Robert De Niro was Grosbard's first choice to play Tom, Duvall's role. The only other actor considered was Gene Hackman, an old friend of Grosbard's, but the actor turned the part down.
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During the title sequence, director Grosbard surrounded De Niro with three actual priests.
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Grosbard had previously worked with Robert Duvall in his stage productions of "A View from the Bridge" and "American Buffalo."
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The names in the directory in Leland Standard's office building are also seen above and below Jack Amsterdam's name in the reverse phone book.
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The moment Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall were cast it was also announced that Bill Conti was going to score the film. Since the production and post production schedules were extended because of the lengthy shoot, Conti had to leave the project due to scoring the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only (1981)
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The film was originally scheduled to open in late 1980 in time, but the post production schedule was extended because United Artists didn't want the film to compete against its Oscar contender Raging Bull (1980) which also starred Robert De Niro and had settled on a release date of February 1981 but was finally pushed back to September 1981.
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The original score was the first score that Academy Award winner Georges Delerue recorded in the United States after relocating from his native France.
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During the filming of the movie, Robert De Niro was once quoted as saying, "If we get through one shot before lunch or one day of shooting were considered ourselves lucky."
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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.
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The nickname given to the murder victim is "The Virgin Tramp".
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The film's screen play was written by John Gregory Dunne and his wife Joan Didion. The picture was one of a number of script collaborations from the couple.
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Playing Brenda Samuels was actress Rose Gregorio who was the wife of the film's director Ulu Grosbard. This picture was the second of three films they made together, the others being The Deep End of the Ocean (1999) and Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971).
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