20 user 23 critic

Absolution (1978)

At a Catholic public school, Benjamin Stanfield is tired of being the teacher's pet and decides to play a practical joke on his form master Father Goddard. In confession, Stanfield tells ... See full summary »


Anthony Page


Anthony Shaffer

Watch Now

With Prime Video



Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A man who has been in a coma since infancy is awakened.

Director: Alan Cooke
Stars: Terence Stamp, Robert Vaughn, Nigel Davenport
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Psychological thriller about a telekinetic novelist who causes disasters simply by thinking about them.

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: Richard Burton, Lee Remick, Lino Ventura
The Child (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  

A newly hired house-keeper in a secluded area is alarmed to discover that her boss's eleven-year-old daughter is using her supernatural powers to take revenge on the people she holds ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Voskanian
Stars: Laurel Barnett, Rosalie Cole, Frank Janson
Dream No Evil (1970)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  

In a surrealistic horror setting, a young Preacher's assistant goes mad and becomes lost in a fantasy of her own creation.

Director: John Hayes
Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Brooke Mills, Marc Lawrence
Born of Fire (1987)
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A musician searches for the Master Flautist, a supernatural creature who is planning to blow up the world.

Director: Jamil Dehlavi
Stars: Peter Firth, Suzan Crowley, Stefan Kalipha
Scalpel (1977)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A psychopathic plastic surgeon transforms a young accident victim into the spitting image of his missing daughter.

Director: John Grissmer
Stars: Robert Lansing, Judith Chapman, Arlen Dean Snyder
Town on Trial (1957)
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

At a local tennis club in a posh London suburb, an attractive but flirty young woman is murdered, prompting a Scotland Yard investigation.

Director: John Guillermin
Stars: John Mills, Charles Coburn, Barbara Bates
The Wrong Box (1966)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In Victorian England, a fortune now depends on which of two brothers outlives the other, or can be made to have seemed to do so.

Director: Bryan Forbes
Stars: John Mills, Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson
Georgy Girl (1966)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A homely but vivacious young woman dodges the amorous attentions of her father's middle-aged employer while striving to capture some of the glamorous life of her swinging London roommate.

Director: Silvio Narizzano
Stars: James Mason, Alan Bates, Lynn Redgrave
Who? (1974)
Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

After an American scientist is severely injured and scarred in a car crash along the border with East Germany, he is captured by East German military. The scientists use metal implants to save him. Once he's back in the States, no one can tell if it's really him, so an intelligence specialist must determine who is under the "mask".

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: Elliott Gould, Trevor Howard, Joseph Bova
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

During the Cold War, the British and Soviet Intelligence services attempt to out-fox one another using the homesick double-Agent Krasnevin a.k.a. Alexander Eberlin (Laurence Harvey) as a pawn in the complex spy-game.

Directors: Anthony Mann, Laurence Harvey
Stars: Laurence Harvey, Tom Courtenay, Mia Farrow
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The first secret is what we don't tell people, the second secret is what we don't tell ourselves, and the third secret is the truth. The death of a psychologist is investigated by his teenage daughter and a former patient.

Director: Charles Crichton
Stars: Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Richard Attenborough


Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... Father Goddard
Dominic Guard ... Benjamin 'Benjie' Stanfield
David Bradley ... Arthur Dyson (as Dai Bradley)
Billy Connolly ... Blakey
Andrew Keir ... Headmaster
Willoughby Gray ... Brigadier Walsh
Preston Lockwood Preston Lockwood ... Father Hibbert
James Ottaway ... Father Matthews
Brook Williams ... Father Clarence
Jon Plowman Jon Plowman ... Father Piers
Robin Soans ... Father Henryson
Trevor Martin Trevor Martin ... Mr. Gladstone
Sharon Duce Sharon Duce ... Louella
Brian Glover ... First Policeman
Dan Meaden Dan Meaden ... Second Policeman


At a Catholic public school, Benjamin Stanfield is tired of being the teacher's pet and decides to play a practical joke on his form master Father Goddard. In confession, Stanfield tells Goddard that he has accidentally murdered his friend Blakey and buried him in the forest. When Goddard investigates the matter, he finds a buried scarecrow. Goddard is outraged, but, due to the seal of confession, he knows he cannot expel Stanfield. Shortly after, Stanfield once again enters the confession booth, telling Goddard that what before was a practical joke, he has now made happen. In disbelief, Goddard once again goes to the forest to investigate the matter. This time, he discovers Blakey's dead body. The plot soon thickens as Stanfield's fellow student Arthur Dyson mysteriously disappears... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Boyhood innocence. Deadly secrets. Burning truths. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

1 July 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Murder by Confession See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bulldog See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Playright-scriptwriter Anthony Shaffer once commented on this film's unproduced source stage-play 'Play With A Gypsy''s similarity with the stage-play 'Child's Play' by Robert Marasco: "In the Marasco play, evil is rampant, for reasons some folks never quite figured out. In 'Play With A Gypsy' it'll be plotted all the way. The central figure is a priest, not a bad priest, but one who doesn't understand human beings. He is so bound by his vows and rigid adherence to Catholic orthodoxy that he doesn't know how to cope with malice. He becomes the prey of very wicked animals. The animals are the boys in the school whom he believes to be telling him the truth. 'Play With A Gypsy' is not an anti-Catholic play by a long shot. It simply tries to say that the church, with it's rigidities, engenders certain conflicts with which it is difficult to cope." See more »


In the tennis match, a close shot of Benjie shows him serving whilst standing in the right service court (which would be illegal) but the long shot shows him serving from the baseline (legal). The score is 30-all, so he should be serving from the right side of the baseline, but is shown serving from the left side. See more »


Pretty Sort of Treatment for a Military Man
Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Performed by the students
from "Patience or Bunthorne's Bride"
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Exciting thriller!
20 July 2017 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

Richard Burton plays a priest in Absolution. I know, his real-life persona was very un-priest-like, but that's why it's called acting! I mean, Frank Sinatra played a very convincing priest in The Miracle of the Bells, and he was just as un-saintly as Richard Burton in real life. Anyway, Burton gives a great performance as a man of the cloth. He's conflicted and pained, and when he even hears about a sin, you can see him struggling not to take it as a personal insult.

He's a teacher and mentor in a boys' Catholic school, and during one of his lessons, the boys ask about the rules during confession. If someone confesses to a crime, will the priest turn him into the police? Burton answers, almost directly into the camera for the audience's benefit, that the priest is bound to silence and can't call the police if he's told of a crime. Then, surprise! One of his students confesses a murder.

Granted, if this movie had been made today, it would be a lot more gruesome, and probably have a few more twists and turns. But it was made in 1978, and so if you watch it, keep that in mind. There are a couple of violent scenes, but nothing overly graphic. And I thought it was thrilling, with enough twists and turns to keep me on the edge of my seat. It's a lot of fun to watch a manipulative, snot-nosed student take Burton to the brink of insanity!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 20 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed