****/**** Image B Sound B Extras B
starring Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden, Brian Aherne
screenplay by George Tabori and William Archibald
directed by Alfred Hitchcock
by Walter Chaw Just the visual beauty of Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess speaks volumes for its inclusion on the short list of the master's masterpieces. This is one of the most astonishing-looking films in all of black-and-white cinematography, its palette of greys a veritable vice press on the already-quailing Montgomery Clift. A late, breathtaking montage wherein Clift, walking the streets of Quebec (filmed on location by the great Robert Burks), crosses a silhouette of a statue of Christ on His last walk to Calvary defines by itself character and theme: Hitchcock's wrong-man obsession clarified as Catholic guilt transference. The power of Hitchcock's best films is a potent mixture of audacious cinematic genius and the suspicion that original sin makes mistaken identity merely the intrusion of cosmic judgment. (It's inevitable and you must have done something at some point to deserve it, besides.) There's something greater at work in Hitchcock's films, the presence of the director asserting itself always--and a connection is struck in I Confess between that directorial control and a sort of implacable karmic omnipresence. For Hitch, filmmaking is Old Testament stuff, and I Confess is a little of that old-time religion.