For Reel

True Confession (1937)
June 8, 2015, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Wesley Ruggles
3.5 Stars
True ConfessionBy the time she had reached the end of her contract at Paramount, Carole Lombard was powerful enough to have a huge influence over the cast and crew of the productions she was involved in. Familiar names like cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff and costume designer Travis Banton repeat in her filmography due to her insistence on it, and in True Confession she went to bat for the casting of John Barrymore, who in 1937 was already fading into obscurity and his health was deteriorating. Watching her evolve as a performer throughout the thirties is watching a woman gain a tremendous confidence on screen: a confidence regarding her image, her persona, and the genre which she had an enormous role in founding. True Confession casts her as a compulsive liar who confesses to a murder that she did not commit so that her straight-laced husband (Fred MacMurray) can advance his career by defending her in court. A small lie leading to a world of trouble was the same premise as her masterpiece released only a month prior, Nothing Sacred, but Claude Binyon’s script doesn’t have the same wit or cynicism. The most intriguing moments see MacMurray defend Lombard as not a single woman, but as a representation of womankind. It’s a feminist premise, but one that also compellingly suggests MacMurray’s hypocrisy–only thirty minutes before, he was appalled by the idea of his wife finding a job.

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