Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden
Father Logan: I never thought of the priesthood as offering a hiding place.
A Catholic priest, Father Logan (Clift), hears the confession of a man who just committed murder, but does not turn him in because of his oath not to reveal anything overheard in confession. When Logan himself becomes the prime suspect in the murder, he must decide whether to break his oath and clear his name or keep his oath and possibly face the death penalty. Complicating the matter is the fact that his alibi for where he was could also bring some other controversial issues to light.
Yet another lesser known Hitchcock movie. This one is quite dark and also very serious. There is not much, if any, humor or even romance. There is one flashback sequence that goes overboard with the romantic imagery, but then I think it was meant to be that way, as sort of an idealized contrast to the darker present.
The first half of this one didn’t hold my attention very well, I must admit. It got more compelling in the second half when the characters really started to interact and Logan’s belief in his oath really got put to the test. As is usually the case in Hitchcock movies, we know who the murderer is from scene one. The real drama comes from whether or not the right man will be accused of the murder.
Clift is good in a relatively quiet leading role, and Karl Malden plays the detective with just the right amount of intelligence and intensity. I thought the character of Ruth (Baxter) was a little bit dull, but she had a few good moments as well.
Though I would call this movie well done, both visually and story wise, I didn’t find it to be highly entertaining (mostly because of the lack of humor, romance, and many suspenseful sequences), and I don’t think it would stand up to repeated viewings. At least, not for me.
There needs to be an “unless they confess murder” clause in that oath regarding confessions.
10 – 2.7 for no real humor, romance, etc – 1 for a dull first half + .4 for good visual style and good performances = 6.7