Strange Confession (1945) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
26 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
7/10
Compelling Little Drama!
bsmith555215 October 2006
"Strange Confession" was the fifth of six "Inner Sanctum" mysteries produced by Universal between 1943 and 1945 and starring Lon Chaney Jr.

The film opens with chemist Jeff Carter (Chaney) arriving on the doorstep of Parker (George Chandler) a lawyer he knew during his school days. He pleads with him to listen to his "strange confession".

In flashback, we see Carter content with his lot in life. He is a chemist whose boss Roger Graham (J. Carroll Naish) takes all of the credit for Jeff's work in developing new drugs. Jeff's wife Mary (Brenda Joyce) wants Jeff to be more ambitious and provide her and their son with the better things in life.

When Jeff refuses to provide Graham with his notes on a drug he is working on because of incomplete testing, he quits his job. Graham uses his influence to block Jeff's getting another job in the field. Jeff goes to work as a pharmacist and is content in that role. One New Year's Eve, Graham comes to Jeff's apartment to offer him his old job back with perks. At first Jeff refuses but at Mary's insistence, he takes the job.

Unbeknownst to Jeff, Graham has eyes for Mary. To that end he arranges for Jeff and his assistant Dave Curtis (Lloyd Bridges) to go to South America to continue work on an influenza drug. Meanwhile Graham and his assistant Stevens (Milburn Stone) steal Jeff's papers and market the drug based on an incomplete formula. Jeff eventually finds the missing link for his formula and wires the new formula to Graham. Graham and Stevens believe the re-working of the drug will take to long to produce, so they continue to market the drug made with the incomplete formula.

And then tragedy strikes. Jeff returns home and....................

This film is one of the better ones in the series. It has an excellent supporting cast and a good story to boot. Chaney as always is excellent. His performance as the meek and gentle chemist who is double crossed once too often is memorable. Naish makes a smooth villain. Brenda Joyce also stands out as Carter's wife.

Also in the cast are Addison Richards as Dr. Williams and Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hudson in the "Sherlock Holmes" series) as Mrs. O'Connor. For Naish and Stone, this was their second appearance in the series.

A compelling little drama with a few unexpected twists.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Not bad
preppy-319 December 2004
Idealistic chemist Jeff Carter (Lon Chaney Jr.) has all his boss Roger Graham (J. Carrol Naish) take credit for all his discoveries. He doesn't care about the credit--he just wants to help humanity. But when Graham releases a drug that Carter discovered without Carter's approval tragedy results.

Easily one of the best "Inner Sanctum" films. It's basically a remake of a 1934 Claude Rains' film called "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head". The original is better but this isn't bad. It's interesting to see Chaney playing a sympathetic, cheerful guy for once and doing a pretty good job. Naish is (as always) very good playing the evil boss. And Brenda Joyce has her moments as Chaney's wife. And it's fun to see Lloyd Bridges in an early role.

This film really doesn't belong with the "Inner Sanctum" series--it's more of a drama until the very end. The film was low budget but looks just great--I assume they were shooting on sets of other movies. This was unavailable from the late 1940s to the early 1990s because of legal rights---but now it's out there and worth seeing. I give it a 6.

No great shakes but not bad at all.
11 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
STRANGE CONFESSION (John Hoffman, 1945) **1/2
Bunuel197610 November 2006
This is possibly the best of the "Inner Sanctums", though it's also not a typical one - being based on Jean Bart's impressive anti-war drama "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head" (already filmed by Universal in 1934 with Claude Rains; in retrospect, it's amusing to note that the remake starred the actor who had played Rains' son in THE WOLF MAN [1941]!). Still, even if the setting is effectively updated - the original had a pre-WWI backdrop - its dealing with the crooked marketing of an untried drug is not quite the same thing as the philosophical war-themed discussions which distinguished the play (and earlier film)!

Again, we're supposed to believe Lon Chaney Jr. is something of a genius in his field - in this case, medical research - but he allows himself to be exploited by his unscrupulous boss J. Carrol Naish (who even has designs on his wife!). Chaney is typically flustered but Naish is an ideal villainous substitute for Lionel Atwill; Brenda Joyce, then, fills in for Joan Bennett as the heroine yearning for a fuller life but, ultimately, unwilling to sacrifice her domestic harmony to satisfy her own selfish ends.

The pace is necessarily slow - there are no murders or detectives this time around - with Chaney recounting his tragic tale to a childhood friend, and the resolution rather skimps on the hero's particular 'crime' (which was certainly more explicit in the 1934 version, even if STRANGE CONFESSION itself was also known as THE MISSING HEAD!) - but, as I said, it's the most satisfying entry in the series (which, ironically enough, was the one to go unseen for decades due to a copyright dispute!).
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Three Cheers for the FDA
dougdoepke31 August 2010
Mild-mannered chemist and devoted family man Jeff Carter (Chaney) is exploited by his unscrupulous employer (Naish) until tragedy results.

A half-hour into this programmer and I still wasn't sure where it was going. It plays more like an ordinary melodrama than an entry in a horror series (Universal's Inner Sanctum). Nonetheless, it's the most coherently plotted of the six entries and features Chaney's best performance. He was always good at projecting pathos, unusual for such a hulking figure. Here he gets the opportunity and looks more engaged than usual for the series.

It's a good thing the cast is engaged because the set-up takes some time, enough time for viewers to otherwise wander off. The premise amounts to a cynical look at the pharmaceutical industry, circa 1945. I don't know where the federal Food and Drug Administration was in those days, but the screenplay amounts to a strong case for federal regulation of the drug industry. Not exactly what you'd expect from a horror feature, although there is strong episode of implied horror near the end that works very well.

Anyway, I rather liked this little oddity and enjoyed a young and vigorous Lloyd Bridges clearly on his way up the Hollywood ladder.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Good for Lon Chaney fans
Darth_Voorhees4 May 2000
I am a big fan of Lon Chaney Jr.It was good to see a movie where Chaney was`nt a stupid monster killing people.This is perfect! I liked it.It was very good.We bought that two movie deal Calling Dr.Death and this.Strange confession beat Dr Death in my book.Oh my it was good.Lon Chaney was a great actor.And this movie is a good way to see his gift.A great mystery.And very suspenseful.It was a great movie.See it if you want a good movie to watch.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Better Have A Good Head On Your Shoulders If You're Going to Double-Cross Lon Chaney Jr !
oldblackandwhite10 August 2011
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!
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
One of the Best
Michael_Elliott29 February 2008
Strange Confession (1945)

*** (out of 4)

Fifth in the Inner Sanctum series once again features Lon Chaney, Jr.. This time around he plays a brilliant scientist who's trying to find a cure for influenza. His greedy boss (J. Carrol Naish) puts the stuff out on the market before it has been proved to cure and this leads to a tragedy. This is probably the best of the series as it mixes some Frank Capra like quiet moments with some rather mean spirited stuff towards the end. Chaney gives a very good performance and Naish lends a very strong supporting performance.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Strange Confession (1945) ***
JoeKarlosi26 January 2012
Of the six Inner Sanctum movies Lon Chaney made at Universal, for me this one constantly switches positions with two others in "Top Three" status. Chaney plays Jeff Carter, a good husband and father who's too soft when it comes to handling his domineering boss Roger Graham (J. Carrol Naish). Jeff's a skilled, meticulous lab chemist busy developing medicines with his partner (played by a very young Lloyd Bridges), but for all his achievements still lives modestly with his family in a tiny apartment. Jeff works hard while watching Graham take all the money and credit, and ultimately becomes a pawn in Graham's game when the boss sends Jeff away for a month on a job in South America for his own selfish ulterior motives.

STRANGE CONFESSION benefits right away for being somewhat different in style and approach from all the other Inner Sanctum mysteries, and it ropes you in from its prelude where we see a tormented Jeff desperately consulting with a lawyer while carrying a black bag with something unspeakable inside it. The film is then told as a flashback where we can find out what happened and why. Chaney gives a good performance, and J. Carrol Naish (who was so perfect with him in CALLING DR. DEATH) again makes for a fine match. *** out of ****
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A Good Film in the Series
Rainey-Dawn7 January 2016
This is one of the best - if not the best - film of the Inner Sanctum Mysteries series.

Chaney plays Jeff Carter a chemist trying to find a cure for influenza. He is married to Mary (Brenda Carter)and they have a son together. He is not after fame nor fortune but sincerely wants to help mankind. His boss, Roger Graham, is not a nice guy - all he is wanting is the money from sales of the pharmaceutical drug that Jeff is developing. All seems fine when Jeff quits working for Roger but, later on, Roger talks Jeff into coming back to work for him - this is where things turn bad for Jeff and Mary. You'll have to watch the film for yourself to find out what went wrong and why.

Great mystery - I highly recommend this one for fans of mystery, crime, and even horror.

9/10
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
The best of the Inner Sanctum mysteries
MartinHafer12 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
From 1943 through 1945, Universal Studios made a string of six movies that starred Lon Chaney, Jr. that were all termed "The Inner Sanctum". Many of the actors were seen in several of the films, though Chaney managed to play the lead in all of them. The stories were B-films--with small budgets and running at just over 60 minutes each. In many ways, they were similar to the later "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" TV series. In addition, Columbia Pictures apparently thought there was money in the concept and brought out The Whistler series just a year after the first Inner Sanctum film. Like the other series, the same actor was supposed to star in the films and they all had different stories about murder and mayhem. Of the two series, I think the Inner Sanctum ones were just a bit better and part of this was because Chaney was excellent in the films. This film is the best of the six films and oddly it just happened to be the last I happened to see--making this an excellent way to complete the series.

Chaney plays a kind medical researcher who cares much more about mankind than he does about getting rich. However, his boss (J. Carroll Naish) is a real dirt-bag--with little interest in anything other than getting rich and claiming credit for Chaney's hard work. Oddly, Chaney doesn't mind, as he's happy with his work and just wants to help people. However, when Naish wants to cut corners and possibly risk lives, Chaney is incensed and quits his job.

Some time later, Naish finds Chaney and apologizes for the past and begs him to return to his old job--at a much higher salary and all the independence he wants. Chaney isn't convinced, as he knows Naish is a weasel, but Chaney's wife convinces him to take the job. Things go fine for a while, but Naish definitely didn't learn his lesson and comes up with an evil plan to both steal Chaney's wife AND market a drug that could kill. In the end, the plot works perfectly--leading to a dandy conclusion and making the audience really sympathize with poor old Chaney.

When it comes to writing, the series had great ideas but often the scripts were full of holes. However, this one is not Swiss Cheezy and works great. Exciting and tense--this is the series at its best.

By the way, they never said exactly what was in Chaney's bag. I assumed it was Naish's head or brain but it was deliberately left vague. I like it that way, as it tends to let your mind conjure up all kinds of interesting images.
7 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
That's all Chaney can stands. He can't stands no more.
utgard1427 March 2014
Lon Chaney, Jr. plays an idealistic chemist who creates a drug that may cure influenza. His unscrupulous and greedy boss (J. Carrol Naish) wants to release the drug right away but Chaney insists on doing more tests to make sure its safe. Naish releases the drug on the market anyway with tragic results. You really shouldn't tick off Lon Chaney, Jr.

The fifth of six Inner Sanctum movies from Universal starring a mustachioed Lon Chaney, Jr. This one has a somewhat troubled history as it was a remake of an earlier Universal film, The Man Who Reclaimed His Head. The first film was based off of a play by Jean Bart. There was some dispute about whether Universal had the rights to do more than one adaptation of Bart's play. So this one was out of circulation for decades.

As was often the case with the Inner Sanctum series, the cast is excellent. Chaney does some of his finest acting here. Legendary character actor J. Carrol Naish makes a particularly rotten villain. Lloyd Bridges, Milburn Stone, Addison Richards, and beautiful Brenda Joyce round out the cast. This is considered by many to be the best of the series. This may be because it has less in common with the others. There are some who don't appreciate the bizarre and quirky charms of the other films in the series. This one is more straightforward and less fantastic, so perhaps that's why it seems to have a better reputation. Regardless, it's a fine B movie that I happen to enjoy even if I wouldn't go so far as to call it my favorite of the bunch.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Strange Confession
Scarecrow-8827 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Tragedy befalls a brilliant chemist, Jeff Carter (Lon Chaney Jr), when his employer, a crafty pharmaceutical marketer, Roger Graham (J. Carrol Naish), steals the scientist's imperfect formula and begins to market the drug before it is fully tested and proved through experimentation. The "strange confession" of the title is the backstory presented by Carter to a renowned district attorney Jeff knew from school, wanting to provide reasons why he has a certain something in a doctor's bag. Carter had worked for Graham, knew his boss was always quick to rush product to the market despite the proper protocols needed to make sure drugs were safe, resigning from the job out of discomfort for his mistreatment. Graham, out of pure meanness, uses his clout to keep Carter from getting work elsewhere, soon returning to the chemist when other scientists he hired failed to deliver results. Because he had to resort to working as a pharmacist in a drug store, Jeff's family live in a cheap boardinghouse, with a small laboratory in the corner of a tiny bathroom. Under pressure from wife Mary (Brenda Joyce) to accept Graham's offer to return to work for him under better conditions, Jeff's status, financially, changes but there are repercussions he couldn't possibly foresee.

Naish is spot-on as the treacherous scoundrel after Chaney's lovely wife, so despicable in how he uses another man's genius to profit substantially, even stealing the scientist's notes so he can quickly market a drug that isn't ready for distribution. Graham's shipping off Jeff to South America to find a particular mold needed as the final ingredient important in successfully creating a "miracle drug" just so he can get chummy with Mary while the hubby is far away, Naish is developed as the perfectly conniving heel, more concerned with financial rewards (and phony public praise for a drug he takes credit for) than having a viable cure for diseases. The tragic consequences, based solely on greed and lust, which affect the Carter family set up Chaney's chemist as quite the sympathetic victim. You'd be hard-pressed not to want Jeff to skin Graham's hide due to the boss' underhanded antics. While Chaney is considered the star of "Strange Confession", this is really Naish's film. The opening is wonderfully puzzling and the shocking conclusion, when Carter gets his revenge, adds a potency that caps off this quality entry in the Inner Sanctum Mysteries series. One of the few films which actually features Chaney as a "Leave It to Beaver" family man, only for this bliss to be shattered by a no-good sonofabitch.

Interesting how the missus is actually the true source for the Carter family's downward slide, mainly because she expresses her dismay with living under less-than-desirable conditions, urging her husband to return to work with a proved crook/charlatan so that she could have the "finer things". A young Lloyd Bridges is Carter's assistant, Dave Curtis, quite charming and handsome. This, I'd have to say, is the most different from the other films in the series.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
The Inner Sanctum: A Brilliant Mind
lugonian5 March 2016
STRANGE CONFESSION (Universal, 1945), directed by John Hoffman, the fifth in the "Inner Sanctum" mysteries starring Lon Chaney (Jr.), has a lot to recommend mainly because this one stands apart from all the others. There's no detective around waiting for the guilty party to accidentally convict him or herself. There's no real murder mystery involved - the killer is known to its viewers from the start of the story. It's also the only one of the six entries to actually been lifted from an earlier film, THE MAN WHO RECLAIMED HIS HEAD (Universal, 1934) starring Claude Rains, Joan Bennett and Lionel Atwill. While the Rains version did have limited television broadcasts (1973-1977) on WOR, Channel 9, in New York City, STRANGE CONFESSION did not, making this the most unavailable and least known of the "Inner Sanctum" products for many years.

STRANGE CONFESSION would not be recognized as an "Inner Sanctum Mystery by Arrangement with Simon and Schuster Inc. Publishers" had it not been for David Hoffman's participation as a disembodied head inside a crystal ball addressing his audience by saying, "This is the Inner Sanctum, the strange fantastic world controlled by mass of living, cult seeking flesh. The mind, it destroys, distorts, creates monsters. Yes, even YOU without knowing can commit murder." For the opening scene, a murder has already taken place and central character, introduced as Jeffrey Carter (Lon Chaney), is seen leaving a building as the midnight bells chime, carrying some object inside his valise. After walking a great distance, Carter comes into the home of Brandon (Wilton Graff), his former college classmate now an attorney. Refusing to accept any more clients due to his busy schedule, Brandon is asked to sit down and hear what he has to say. After seeing what he has inside his valise, Brandon, in total surprise, agrees to listen to his story. Flashbacks reveal Carter an idealistic chemist with a beautiful wife, Mary (Brenda Joyce), and little son, Tommy (Gregory Muradian). Although a happy family, Mary resents the fact that her husband's brilliant mind is being taken for granted by his employer, Roger Graham (J. Carrol Naish), a manufacturer who takes credit and riches from Jeff's discoveries. After quitting his employ, Graham arranges for Jeff to be blacklisted from laboratory work, thus, forcing him to work for Mr. Moore (Christian Rub) as a pharmacist in his neighborhood drug store. Unable to succeed without Jeff's assistance, Graham takes him back, this time offering him full control of his discoveries and better financial rewards. Accepting a position in South America with Dave Curtis (Lloyd Bridges) as his assistant, Jeff acquires a special mode used for his vaccine cure for influenza called Zymurgine, sending the formula to Graham, who continues to betray Jeff by using it for his professional gain. After learning the real reason for being sent away for long length of time away from his wife and son, Jeff decides to return home and do something about it.

Other members of the cast include: Milburn Stone (Stevens); Addison Richards (Doctor Williams); Mary Gordon (Mrs. O'Connor); George Chandler (Harper) and Francis McDonald (Hernandez). As in all "Inner Sanctum" mysteries, Lon Chaney, in mustache, plays a victim of circumstance. Like his legendary father of the silent screen, he makes every effort presenting himself as an actor and not one associated solely in the horror genre starting with THE WOLF MAN (1941) and its sequels being his most significant character among everything else he has done.

What makes STRANGE CONFESSION even more special is Chaney's rare opportunity playing a family man with a wife and child this time around, although not as convincing as a chemist as Boris Karloff or Vincent Price had they been cast. Had STRANGE CONFESSION been licensed to broadcast television in the sixties and seventies, no doubt, based on portions in the flashback sequence set during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, it might have been part of its annual Christmas package showings as MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947) for example. Naturally this never occurred mainly due to this particular movie title became victim of some copyright dispute. After decades of obscurity, STRANGE CONFESSION was made available through video distribution in 1997 and again on DVD with prints lifted from a 1950s reissue with Real-Art Studios as distributor instead of Universal Pictures logo used in its closing titles. For anyone insisting that STRANGE CONFESSION did play on television sometime in the 1960s, oddly enough, it was a title inserted over the original title of THE IMPOSTER (Universal, 1944), for a reissue print starring French actor, Jean Gabin.

STRANGE CONFESSION is highly recommended viewing. It's only disappointment during its 66 minutes is not knowing much of the outcome after Jeff finishes telling his story. Next and final Inner Sanctum Mystery: PILLOW OF DEATH (1945) casting Lon Chaney and Brenda Joyce once more. (**1/2)
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
simply outstanding description of USA
karlericsson14 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In only about 70 minutes, the situation of inventors and altruistic people in USA is brought to us along with thrills, sentiment and mystery. Those believing in the official fairy-tales will find this film disturbing if they will find it all. For all you others (you few?): Enjoy! OK, there is maybe more to say, like that the only film as tightly scripted as this film (that I know of) is "Cabin in the Cotton". And shall I perhaps add that when I saw the final scene in which minimum justice was done (I mean with the sword), then I was cheering. Finally, I can state that this kind of film (this critical of USA) is extremely rare today (latest example: 'They Live' by John Carpenter and maybe "Matrix").
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Universal remake of "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head"
kevinolzak22 February 2014
As the fifth of Universal's six 'Inner Sanctum' mysteries, 1945's "Strange Confession" has the distinction of being the only one not included in the popular SHOCK! package of classic horror films issued to television in the late 50s. Out of circulation since its rerelease under the title "The Missing Head," it still hasn't made the television rounds to this day, but has been easily available with the other series entries on VHS and now DVD. The reason for its suppression is that this was an unauthorized remake of Jean Bart's unsuccessful play (a measly 28 performances) "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head," previously filmed by Universal in 1934, featuring 'Invisible Man' Claude Rains recreating his stage role opposite villain Lionel Atwill. Streamlined and updated for its star Lon Chaney, "Strange Confession" actually improves on its source, the Chaney protagonist, Jeff Carter, an impoverished chemist working for an unscrupulous boss, Roger Graham (J. Carrol Naish), who takes all the credit for himself; in the original, Rains was a too mild mannered pacifist writer mercilessly used by his employer (Atwill) to advance his warmongering agenda. Without the lengthy antiwar backstory, the remake flows much quicker, and Chaney's family has a charming little son (Gregory Muradian) rather than an insufferable little brat of a daughter, played by 'Baby Jane' (a LONG way from Shirley Temple). Roger Graham is just as ruthless as his inspiration, his company rushing formulas into production regardless of whether or not they actually succeed in curing the patients, and when Jeff Carter's wife (Brenda Joyce) discovers that Graham's 'miracle drug' failed to save her son from an influenza epidemic, she turns on him far more forcefully than Joan Bennett ever did. Among another solid supporting cast are Lloyd Bridges as a good sidekick, ubiquitous Milburn Stone as a bad one, and equally ubiquitous Addison Richards as a doctor, with Mary Gordon and Jack Norton playing neighbors. Lovely Brenda Joyce had just begun her five picture reign as Jane in RKO's 'Tarzan' series, only concluding with her final film in 1949, "Tarzan's Magic Fountain," opposite new Ape Man Lex Barker and former Universal starlet Evelyn Ankers. Brenda's other genre work included "Whispering Ghosts" (John Carradine), "Pillow of Death" (opposite Chaney again), "The Spider Woman Strikes Back" (Gale Sondergaard, Rondo Hatton), "Little Giant" (Abbott and Costello), and "Danger Woman" (Patricia Morison, from "Tarzan and the Huntress"). As for Chaney himself, this was perhaps his best showcase since "Man Made Monster" or "The Wolf Man," not an innocent man accused of murder (as in previous series entries), but a brilliant researcher driven to justifiable homicide by forces beyond his control. Contrary to the numerous naysayers, he is convincing in this role, thanks to a script seemingly tailor made for his personality, not exactly suave, just an all around decent family man; the final 'Inner Sanctum,' "Pillow of Death," found him wallowing in a weak film and bad script, concluding with him as the surprise killer, undeserving of sympathy. The non horror "Strange Confession" never looked better, arguably the best of the half dozen series titles.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Good movie, but the original version is better
mgconlan-126 October 2006
"Strange Confession" was the only Universal "Inner Sanctum" movie I had NEVER seen until the recent release of the entire series on DVD, but from the first few minutes it seemed familiar and I quickly realized why: though the opening credits list the script as based on a "composition" by Jean Bart (which made it seem like it was based on something she wrote in grade school), it was a quite obvious remake of the 1934 Universal film "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head," with Claude Rains, Joan Bennett and Lionel Atwill in the roles played here by Lon Chaney, Jr., Brenda Joyce and J. Carrol Naish. The original took place in France on the eve of the First World War and contained a pacifist message that M. Coates Webster, scenarist for the remake, unsurprisingly omitted since the U.S. was still at war when "Strange Confession" was made. Webster also changed the two antagonists from a radical newspaper editor at odds with his publisher to a scientist at odds with the owner of the pharmaceutical company he works for. Nonetheless, the two films are quite close otherwise and, though hardly as good a film as "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head" (and where is THAT one on DVD, Universal?), "Strange Confession" retains a surprising degree of the original's quality.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
The Fear Of Pandemics
boblipton23 February 2020
Lon Chaney Jr. is a research chemist working for pharmaceuticals manufacturer J. Carroll Naish. Naish not only makes all the money. He takes the credit. Chaney doesn't care. He has his wife, Brenda Joyce, and his son, and his very useful work. He's working on something to cure influenza, and Naish wants to rush it into production, but Chaney has all the data in his head, so Naish lets him have his way. When Chaney wants to go to South America with research assistant Lloyd Bridges, he agrees; his men have stolen Chaney's notes, so while Chaney is off perfecting the drug, Naish will produce a far less effective drug.... and seduce Miss Joyce.

It's the fifth of sixth 'Inner Sanctum' movies produced at Universal I'm the mid-1940s, a remake of 1934's THE MAN WHO RECLAIMED HIS HEAD. It's quite clearly a cheap programmer, but it's a lead role for Chaney, pretty near the end of his starring phase, and he gives his usual good, tragic performance.

I do wonder what the FDA is doing about the events in this movie. As I write this, the 2019 Coronavirus is spreading around the world, with lots of panic, talks about pandemics, Internet nonsense about fighting it by drinking bleach - which will almost certainly kill the virus, as well as the people who drink it. Let's hope that the legitimate drug companies can come up with something to fight it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Sinister scientists lose their head over experiments.
mark.waltz19 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Acceptable "Inner Sanctum" mystery has Lon Chaney Jr. bringing a bag to a powerful defense attorney and telling his story of how ruthless lab owner J. Carroll Naish did him and partner Lloyd Bridges dirt, purposely releasing it to the public before it was ready. His motive, to get Chaney out of the way so he could put the moves on Chaney's wife, Brenda Joyce, makes the revenge on the lecherous man double motivated. Chaney's a good family man, taking the fifth entry of the series to a domestic level, quite different as the short lived series winds down.

This is a better than average entry, although the scene sacrificing monkeys for scientific research was disturbing, especially seeing Bridges holding one of the adorable critters. Naish, having earlier played one of the detectives in "Calling Dr. Death", is a great villain, although I found it absurd that Chaney would trust him again after having earlier had his career destroyed by him. Bridges, as usual, is a light hearted joy to watch, and for once, Chaney seems easy going in his work as well, as if Bridges' easy manner rubbed off on him. Mary Gordon gives her typical sweet and funny take as Chaney and Joyce's housekeeper.

Topically, this is an interesting take on the subject of medical fraud with medicines made available or tainted, a topical subject today. With a better script than normal, this becomes intriguing because of how much has changed and not changed. It's less melodramatic than others in the series, because the dramatic elements of the story are far more relatable. A twist at the end is a real shocker that makes the revenge on Naish all the more desirable.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The man who reclaimed his mind....
simeon_flake16 February 2015
Having never seen "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head"--which this film is apparently based on--I had nothing to compare it to, so the idea of the movie seemed fresh to me & as far as the Inner Sanctum Mysteries go, this was perhaps the best of the six--a compelling little drama where once again you can feel Lon Chaney's agony & torment.

Chaney to me was a very gifted actor--especially when it came to playing on the audience's sympathies. Whether or not Lon could have played a leading man may be up for some debate amongst critics and fans; seemingly, Lon wanted to do more than just be a "horror man", which may have attributed to some of the man's personal demons.

But, all that aside, "Strange Confession" is a great movie. J. Carrol Naish was suitably slimy in his role--a role that at first I didn't recognize him in given that I'm so used to seeing him as the hunchback Daniel from "House of Frankenstein." Brenda Joyce has good chemistry with Lon & the story flows along nicely.

Perhaps the mystery of this one is what exactly is inside that bag Lon Chaney's character has with him. One can make a very educated guess after watching the movie, but I won't spoil anything.

Overall--if you're a Chaney fan--then this Inner Sanctum mystery is a must see.

9 stars
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Well-made, but more of a drama than a mystery
gridoon202111 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"Strange Confession" may be a part of the "Inner Sanctum Mysteries" series, but it's really more of a tragedy than a mystery. It's well-made and polished, but also very slow and "civilized" and low-key; for most of its length any mystery or suspense elements are downplayed to the point of non-existence. And it's not that hard to guess what's inside the bag that Lon Chaney carries in the beginning which shocks the first man who sees it so much. Chaney continues to show his versatility in this series, by playing an entirely different character in each entry, much like Richard Dix in the concurrent "Whistler" series. As for Brenda Joyce, her role appears to be thankless for much of the running time, but she also has some powerful moments near the end. "Strange Confession" is worth seeing - but be forewarned about the genre it belongs to. **1/2 out of 4.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Excellent Little Inner Sanctum Entry
JLRMovieReviews14 April 2014
Lon Chaney, Brenda Joyce, J. Carroll Naish, and Lloyd Bridges star in this "Inner Sanctum" mystery entry. We see a distraught Lon Chaney, with a mysterious package in tow, visiting an ex-classmate, who's now a respected attorney, for his help. Lon begins his story. Flashback: Chaney is a scientist who's working on a cure for influenza. His boss - underplayed nicely by Naish, who usually likes to ham it up in supporting roles with accents - pays him for results and is anxious to put this latest pill on the shelves. Lon was going to ask for a raise, but, when they have a confrontation about Lon's slow but deliberate pace, his boss demands his notes. But Lon has them all in his mind and quits, when he feels he's being used for his brain and unappreciated. His wife Brenda Joyce is the supportive wife, to a point; she's tired of living with nothing to their name in a somewhat adequate apartment. He has her and a son to think of, if he doesn't want to blow his own horn for himself. Then, Lon discovers he needs a mold found in South America to complete the ingredients. Without it, not only does the vaccine not work on the patients, but it may be lethal. But, while he's there with co-worker Lloyd Bridges, the impatient boss markets it as is anyway.

This was a bit different in its synopsis on the Inner Sanctum DVD collection, so I thought it seemed the least interesting. I put off watching it, until all the others were watched. But I was completely immersed in it, despite the fact there was no murder to solve from the beginning. All the suspense comes in the final five minutes of the film.

In fact, all of the "Inner Sanctum" films were very good. Some of them better than others, but none of them were weak or badly made. In fact, I was very impressed with how well-written the dialogue was in all of them. They have an almost educated feel to them, like these were mysteries with a pedigree. I have reviewed others in the series, but maybe not all. If you get a chance to buy the "Inner Sanctum" DVD collection off Amazon, you won't be disappointed. Some of them are a little campy. Some are downright creepy. But all of them effective in their offbeat and methodical way. "Strange Confession" is just one sampling of a collection that will whet your appetite for more of the classic black-and-white murder mysteries.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
The most RECKLESS kind of business
binapiraeus6 April 2014
In the middle of the night, an obviously injured man enters the house of a well-known lawyer, explaining to him that he's his former schoolmate, chemist Jeff Carter, and showing him the contents of his large bag - which quite obviously HORRIFY the attorney. But he sits down and listens to Jeff's story, which he begins telling in a LONG flashback: Jeff, who's always been an altruist and wanting to do good to mankind with his work, is - as his colleagues as well as his wife tell him - the ideal 'object' for exploitation by his ruthless boss Graham, the head of a big pharmaceutics company. Graham takes Jeff's formulas, rushes them on to the market in order to make huge profits, and pays him peanuts for it - until one day, he wants to market Jeff's new 'miracle drug' for all kinds of diseases, although Jeff insists that it's not perfected yet and it would be irresponsible and dangerous to sell it as it is; Graham insists, and Jeff resigns.

He gets work as an assistant at a drugstore; but that doesn't seem to please his pretty young wife Mary very much, because there his salary is even smaller than when he worked for reckless exploiter Graham - and then, one New Year's Eve, Graham comes to see Jeff in order to beg him to come back to the company; and meets Mary for the first time... Immediately, the scoundrel has got a scheme ready: he sends Jeff, who consents to work for him again, and his assistant Dave to South America, where, according to Jeff, the only missing ingredient for the 'miracle drug' can be found - and so he's got him out of the way for making love to Mary, and for copying his incomplete formula and marketing it in a big way. But THEN, just as Jeff and Dave have found the right formula, a big influenza epidemic breaks out back home, and people, including Jeff's little son Tommy, are being treated with Graham's useless 'medicine'...

This is undoubtedly the heaviest, most dramatic and most cruel of the six "Inner Sanctum" movies - for it deals with one of the most cruel crimes: mass murder by false medication (a similar case as in "The Third Man"). And it shows the reckless capitalism and greed of those who 'play' with human lives in this way most drastically in the shape of Graham - we have to take our hats off to J. Carroll Naish for playing that skunk in such a convincing way that we actually HATE him to the core... And at the same time, the movie 'commits' a clear violation of the Production Code: 'The sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of the crime...' But see and judge for yourself...
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
What's in the bag?
AAdaSC11 October 2016
Chemist Lon Chaney Jr (Jeff) develops cures for illnesses but it's his boss J. Carrol Naish (Graham) who proudly takes the credit. Chaney is OK with this as he is motivated by the desire to help mankind. However, he is just too nice and doesn't even ask for pay rises. Naish is ruthlessly committed to profit and is prepared to release unfinished products to the public and that's what he does. He comes into direct conflict with Chaney over this point and things escalate. Chaney wants something back.

Well, I'm not sure Chaney needed to do what he does given his reasoning at the end of the film. It doesn't make any sense – he's babbling complete nonsense. However, we all sympathize with him. The film is a bit boring given the family situation - I couldn't care less for the family life sections and the kid and the irritating housekeeper.

One thing is true about the film, it is indeed a strange confession. And there are loads of products on the market that are no good for you. What's in the bag – yes, you guessed right. No real mystery about this film, it's an obvious narrative.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Fifth Inner Sanctum Mystery.
AaronCapenBanner26 October 2013
Lon Chaney Jr. plays Jeffrey Carter, an underpaid and exploited chemist who works for a highly unethical drug company president called Roger Graham(played by J. Carol Naish) After Jeff quits in frustration, Roger tries unsuccessfully to prevent him for working anywhere else. Desperate, Roger hires Jeff back, and puts him to work on a cure for a deadly strain of influenza, which requires him to travel to South America with his friend Dave Curtis(played by Lloyd Bridges)They discover a cure, but too late, as Roger puts an untested drug on the market that leads to deaths, including Jeff's young son...Enraged, he confronts Roger, who was also trying to steal his wife Mary! Much potential here that goes unrealized sadly, though the acting is fine, the budget is too low and running time too short to put this film over-the-top; a real shame that.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Please shut this video off!!
evilskip1 November 1999
The movie starts off with Jeff Carter picking up a tree and Xmas gifts for his family.He'd love to have dinner with his wife and little Tommy on Xmas eve, but he has to work for his mean boss.What is this?A Christmas Carol?

No.It is a boring little flick about Carter's unfinished influenza cure released prematurely by Graham, his skunk of a boss.When little Tommy dies,Carter seeks revenge.

The Inner Sanctum was a popular radio mystery show.A series of Universal films starring Lon Chaney was released to capitalize on its popularity. But the only mystery is how can you sit through this boring drivel.It isn't a mystery, just a confession.You know where this is going after the first ten painful minutes.

If this is on your television, change the channel!
4 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed