I confess

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German title I confess,
condemned to silence,
also: I confess
Original title I Confess
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1953
length 91 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Alfred Hitchcock
script George Tabori ,
William Archibald
production Alfred Hitchcock
for Warner Brothers
music Dimitri Tiomkin
camera Robert Burks
cut Rudi Fehr

I confess (alternative title: Condemned to silence ; also: I confess; original title: I Confess) is a film drama by Alfred Hitchcock from 1953 based on a screenplay by George Tabori , whose screenplay was based on a French play by Paul Anthelme from 1902 the title Nos deux consciences is based. Montgomery Clift as the Catholic priest William Logan, Anne Baxter as Ruth Grandfort and Karl Malden as Inspector Larrue and Brian Aherne as the public prosecutor and OE Hasse as Otto Keller, who brings Father Logan into great trouble not only through his confession, play the leading roles .


In Canadian Quebec , the German immigrant Otto and Alma cellar work as caretaker and housekeeper of a Catholic church. One night Otto Keller breaks into the lawyer Villette, where he works as a gardener every Wednesday, and murders him when he is surprised by him. Disguised in a priest's robe, he flees. When he returns to church, he confesses his deed to the young Father Michael Logan. The priest asked him to bring back the stolen money. Otto also tells his wife Alma about the murder. The next morning, like every Wednesday, he goes to Villette, “finds” the body and calls the police. A little later, Father Logan comes to Villette's house. He explained to the police inspector Larrue who was present there that he had an appointment with Villette, but could not tell him the reason, but that his intended conversation had nothing to do with the murder. Larrue becomes suspicious. Shortly afterwards he sees Logan meeting a woman in front of the house.

Meanwhile, two eyewitnesses are being investigated, two young girls who saw a priest on the way home who came from Villette's house at the time of the crime. This statement incriminates Father Logan, as all other eligible priests in the area have alibis . Logan tells Inspector Larrue that he was out for a walk at the time of the crime. He could not give any further information about the woman with whom he had met and about Villette. Otto Keller learns of the police's suspicions against Logan and puts him under pressure to keep the confessional secret . Logan makes no move to want to break this, however.

The woman Logan met outside Villette's house is Ruth Grandfort, married to a distinguished politician. The Grandforts are also good friends with the responsible public prosecutor. It also appears that Father Logan and Ruth had a previous relationship. As a result of a shadowing operation , Larrue finds out the identity of the woman. He informs the prosecutor and together they call Logan and the Grandforts for an interrogation. Under the pressure of the questioning and in order to relieve Logan, Ruth explains the connections, which is shown in a flashback : She and Logan met and fell in love before the Second World War . Logan went to war and asked Ruth not to wait for him. Ruth married Grandfort some time later, but she never loved him. When Logan came home after the war, they both spent a day together. Ruth hadn't told Logan that she was no longer free. Due to a sudden storm, Logan and Ruth were forced to spend the night outside together. Villette appeared there the next morning and recognized Ruth. This was how Logan found out about their marriage. After that, Ruth and Logan didn't see each other for five years. Logan was ordained a priest. One day Villette started blackmailing Ruth. When she didn't know what to do next, she turned to Logan. They met on the night of the murder, and Logan promised to look into the matter and see Villette.

Ruth declares that she was with Logan until 11 p.m. on the night in question - the alleged time of the murder. Larrue, however, has since received the autopsy report, which fixes the time of the crime at around 11:30 p.m., so Logan is not relieved of suspicion by Ruth's testimony, but on the contrary is charged, since there is now a motive . Otto Keller recognizes his chance and hides the cassock he was wearing during the murder in Father Logan's room, where it is found by the police. Logan is charged and there is a trial . Attorney Robertson tries to create the impression that Ruth and Logan met frequently, and even after they were ordained. Otto Keller makes an incriminating false testimony by claiming that Father Logan didn't come to church until after midnight. Logan, who is bound by the confession of confession, contradicts Keller's lie, but still hides the fact that he knows the perpetrator.

Despite the circumstantial evidence, Logan is acquitted by the jury. The judge indicates that he considers this to be a wrong judgment. Logan's walk out of the courthouse turns into a gauntlet . The crowd has long since pronounced its verdict. Alma Keller, who has remained silent from the beginning merely out of love or solidarity for her husband, collapses under the impression of the lynch-mad mob and exonerates Father Logan. But before she can accuse her husband Otto of being a murderer, he shoots her. Keller escapes to the Hotel Château Frontenac . When he was cornered, Otto Keller finally confessed what he had done, assuming that Logan broke his silence out of cowardice. He is shot. As he dies, he asks Father Logan for forgiveness and the latter gives him absolution .


I Confess is based on the 1902 play Nos deux consciences by Paul Anthelmes , which Hitchcock had already seen in the early 1930s. For him, whose Catholic upbringing has left its mark on almost all of his films, the story of a priest who gets into the conflict that he can only break suspicion of murder by breaking the confessional secret was fascinating. For decades he had toyed with the idea of ​​filming this material. At the end of the 1940s the rights were held by Warner Brothers and there were already drafts of scripts by various authors, but Hitchcock did not approve of them. After months of unsuccessful searching for material after his thriller The Stranger on the Train , his wife Alma dug out the old drafts and Hitchcock saw the great opportunity to further develop the motif of transferring guilt that had just been implemented with flying colors in The Stranger on a Train .

As a screenwriter, Hitchcock first wanted to win Samson Raphaelson , who had written the screenplay for his psychological thriller Suspected eleven years earlier . However, this refused. So the script was then written by the playwright William Archibald . Hitchcock hired George Tabori , whose play Flight to Egypt he had seen, to rework the dialogues . In particular, Tabori should credibly work out the personality of the German refugee Otto Keller and his wife. As in virtually all of his films, Hitchcock's part in the script was quite large. In the end, practically nothing was left of the original template except for the basic idea.

Alma Reville (photo from 1955)

Hitchcock dedicated the role of Alma Keller to his wife Alma Reville , but without ever admitting this to anyone. He chose the name Alma for the role of the woman, who is noticeably suffering from the terrible deed of her husband, but is (initially) silent out of loyalty and love for him, in the very last version of the script, after he had personally revised the dialogues between Otto and Alma . For the role, he chose an actress, Dolly Haas , who also looked very similar to his wife. In Otto's words to his wife Alma, Hitchcock expressed his own feelings towards his wife Alma. The motive of the stranger in the new home, the motive of the anxious man who finds support from his wife, who selflessly supports him, clearly reflects Hitchcock's personal mood seven years after the war.

It was clear to Hitchcock that non-Catholics would find it difficult to grasp the underlying conflict based on the inviolability of the confessional secret. Therefore, he chose an exotic environment (at least for Americans), namely the Catholic Canadian Québec with its narrow and steep streets and many churches. Hitchcock, who initially flirted with his usual leading actors James Stewart and Cary Grant as well as Laurence Olivier , finally cast the leading role of the suspected murderer with the young, popular Montgomery Clift . He assumed that Clift could give the role human depth; however, this turned out to be quite difficult. As a method actor , he was used to approaching roles from the inside out, which Hitchcock was reluctant to do, since he saw himself solely as the artist and the actor only as the performer. On top of that, Clift was neurotic, depressed and addicted to alcohol, and before each scene he obtained the approval of his teacher Mira Rostova, who followed him every step of the way and even gave instructions during the filming. Montgomery Clift's expressionless, almost fatalistic playing gave the film an oppressive atmosphere.

For the female lead, Hitchcock wanted the Swede Anita Björk . He had to drop this plan when she arrived with her lover and illegitimate child. The production company immediately vetoed the subject matter of the film and given the morale prevailing in the US in the early 1950s, and Björk was replaced by Anne Baxter .

For many, I confess is stylistically one of the best Hitchcock thrillers of all. His imagery, his play with light and shadow as well as light and dark (in his last black and white film for the time being), the suggestive camera work (it was Hitchcock's second collaboration with the cameraman Robert Burks , who was to accompany him for the next ten years), the exact composition and the many visual details have received multiple praise.


Hitchcock can be seen at the beginning of the film as a pedestrian at the head of a large flight of stairs.

German dubbed version

The German dubbing was created in 1953 in the studios of Deutsche Mondial Film GmbH in Berlin .

role actor Voice actor
Father Michael W. Logan Montgomery Clift Paul-Edwin Roth
Ruth Grandfort Anne Baxter Tilly Lauenstein
Otto Keller OE Hasse OE Hasse
Inspector Larrue Karl Malden Heinz Engelmann
Willy Robertson Brian Aherne Siegfried Schürenberg
Pierre Grandfort Roger then Horst Niendorf
Father Millars Charles Andre Alfred Balthoff
Detective Murphy Judson Pratt Hans Emons
Father Benoit Gilles Pelletier Harry Wüstenhagen
Sergeant Farouche Henry Corden Wolf Martini


I Confession was badly received by audiences and critics when it was published. As was to be expected, one rubbed against the basic constellation that the priest even places the preservation of the confessional secret above his own life. It was also criticized that the film lacks any trace of typical Hitchcock humor. After the premiere in 1953, Bosley Crowther wrote in the New York Times : “It takes a long time for Hitchcock to get the tension going. Only at the very end, at a culmination point for melodrama, does this film begin to vibrate. There are always surprising Hitchcock ingredients, but the script dictates a cumbersome development that is slowly approaching the expected solution. ” Variety praised the performance of Montgomery Clift in the lead role and found the basic idea of ​​the film interesting, but the one Film is less exciting than one might expect. The society columnist Hedda Hopper was however pleased: It was the best Hitchcock film in many years, especially since it had minimally limited "these Hitchcock touches ".

Today I Confess is receiving a predominantly positive reception. Ulrich Behrens writes in his review that I confess is “a film that can hardly be surpassed in terms of drama, in which Hitchcock not only describes the dilemma of a priest - impressively portrayed by Montgomery Clift - between his vow as a priest (here: confessional secret) and his human feelings for earthly justice. ”The lexicon of international films emphasizes the importance of film for Hitchcock's oeuvre as a whole:“ Tension here develops out of psychological and theological conflicts. The criminalistic processes form the background. Hitchcock filmed in Quebec to convey the typically Catholic atmosphere and incorporated personal marital and religious issues into the plot. Although it looks a bit clumsy and constructed, the film is gripping and plays an instructive role in Hitchcock's oeuvre. "

Adolf Heinzlmeier and Berndt Schulz rate the film in their lexicon "Films on TV" with 2½ stars (= above average) and say: "(...); one of the less tightly staged Hitchcock, pretty typifying, but still captivating until the not very convincing finale. ”A similar assessment can be found in the film dictionary 6000 films. Critical notes from the cinema years 1945 to 1958 : “Captivating psychological drama (...). His conflict is heavily constructed, but carried out with appropriate tact and taste. Hardly understandable for young people and therefore unsuitable. ”In The Story of Cinema (1986), the film historian David Shipman writes about I Confess : “ Technically one of Hitchcock's most brilliant films. ”


  • François Truffaut : Mr. Hitchcock, how did you do it? Heyne, 2003, ISBN 3-453-86141-8 (sequence of interviews [approx. 50 hours] by the French director from 1962). Original edition: François Truffaut: Le cinéma selon Hitchcock (Eng. "The film according to Hitchcock"). Simon and Schuster, 1984, ISBN 0-671-52601-4
  • Robert A. Harris, Michael S. Lasky, eds. Joe Hembus : Alfred Hitchcock and his films (OT: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock) . Citadel film book from Goldmann, Munich 1976, ISBN 3-442-10201-4
  • John Russel Taylor: The Hitchcock Biography , Fischer Cinema 1982, ISBN 3-596-23680-0
  • Donald Spoto : Alfred Hitchcock - The dark side of genius . Heyne, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-453-55146-X (German translation by Bodo Fründt)
  • Bodo Fründt: Alfred Hitchcock and his films . Heyne Film Library Volume 91, 1986, ISBN 3-453-86091-8

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. IMDb Trivia
  2. IMDb Trivia
  3. Thomas Bräutigam: Lexicon of film and television synchronization. More than 2000 films and series with their German dubbing actors etc. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89602-289-X , p. 408 / I confess in the German dubbing index ; Retrieved December 2, 2007
  4. ^ Critique in the New York Times from 1953
  5. "I confess" in the review of Variety
  6. Hedda Hopper's criticism at the IMDb
  7. Ulrich Behrens' criticism at the Filmzentrale
  8. CD-ROM edition, Systhema, Munich 1997
  9. ^ Extended new edition, Rasch and Röhring, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-89136-392-3 , p. 381
  10. Handbook V of the Catholic Film Critics, 3rd edition, Verlag Haus Altenberg, Düsseldorf 1963, p. 201