For Reel

Full Confession (1939)
April 14, 2015, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: John Farrow
2.5 Stars
Full ConfessionRegarded as a close imitation of John Ford’s The Informer (as Frank S. Nugent of the New York Times put it, “We will admit we had rather see a producer crib his sequences from a good picture than from a poor one (…)”), Full Confession stars Victor McLaglen as a cop killer who grapples with guilt when an innocent man is convicted for the crime he committed. As would be expected, McLaglen excels at the part–he was an actor gifted with a brute’s body but an incredible sensitivity, able to convey the complexities of a flawed man who nonetheless is essentially good. Director John Farrow and cinematographer J. Roy Hunt create a haunting atmosphere as the drunken McLaglen strolls through the city streets drowned in deep shadows and fog, amplifying the moral complications through noir-like stylizations. Where things go wrong is in both the preachiness of Jerome Cody & Leo Birinski’s screenplay and especially the miscasting of Joseph Calleia as the priest who acts as McLaglen’s morale compass. He’s a personification of the guilt that McLaglen feels, robbing the morality play from the complex interior world to something that registers as Calleia harassing McLaglen. Calleia plays the priest as first too much of a blank canvas and finally too insistent–not once is he hitting the right note.

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