I Confess is one of four Alfred Hitchcock thrillers whose title is known more than the movie itself. The other three thrillers on the TCM Greatest Classic Films 2 DVD set are Suspicion, Strangers on a Train, and The Wrong Man. I Confess is a straightforward thriller with very few bells and whistles. It is somewhat dated and you need to understand the location and historical context to really get the importance of the story.
Montgomery Cliff plays Father Michael Logan. One of the men working at the rectory confesses to a murder. Detective Larrue, Karl Malden, comes to the conclusion Father Logan is the murderer. His motive is the dead man was blackmailing Logan about his past.
I Confess was filmed in Quebec City but only occasionally benefits from the location. Hitchcock might have chosen the location more for the fact Catholicism was still rampant in Quebec at the time and this makes the story more dramatic.
Karl Malden is very good as Detective Larrue. What is missing really is the motive for his doggedness. He is often presented with indications Logan is not guilty but he is determined to pin the murder on the priest with the understanding he is “just doing his job”.
Cinematically, there are quite a few very interesting scenes that make I Confess interesting for those who like to analyze the stylistics of a movie,
Hitchcock’s cameo is the man walking at the top of the stairs right after the credits.