1937 Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Wesley Ruggles|
|Produced by||Albert Lewin|
|Written by||Georges Berr (Play)
Louis Verneuil (Play)
|Music by||Frederick Hollander|
|Edited by||Paul Weatherwax|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||December 24, 1937|
|Running time||85 minutes|
True Confession is a 1937 screwball comedy film starring Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray, and John Barrymore. It was directed by Wesley Ruggles and based on the play Mon Crime, written by Georges Berr and Louis Verneuil. In 1946 it was remade as Cross My Heart.
Helen Bartlett (Lombard) is the wife of the honest lawyer Ken (MacMurray). She is a "writer" but cannot think of anything to write and instead lives in her fantasy world of telling lies. When she discovers that they are broke, she attempts to get Ken to take a case of a man who stole hams. Ken finds out that the man really did steal the hams, and therefore does not take the case. Helen is forced to get a job as a secretary for businessman Otto Krayler (John T. Murray). While working, he attempts to seduce Helen, which causes Helen to quit the job. However, she discovers that she accidentally left her hat and coat at the apartment. She returns only to find that Otto Krayler has been killed and $12,000 of money the supposed motive. The police suspect Helen and take her into custody. To further complicate her situation, Helen divulges a vivid account of the murder, discussing how she did it and everything, and then says that she had nothing to do with it.
Ken represents Helen at the trial and believes that there is no way that the jury will believe that Helen did not commit the murder, and therefore has her plead self-defense. As the trial continues, an obnoxious man named Charley Jasper (Barrymore) believes that Helen did not murder Krayler, but he keeps it to himself.
Helen wins the case and publishes a hugely successful novel of her life story. Having earned a fortune, Helen and Ken buy a lavish home on Martha's Lake, but Ken expresses remorse that their fortune has come out of crime. Helen wonders if she should confess her innocence, but Ken states that perjury would be worse than the crime she had already committed. Meanwhile, Charley visits Helen and Ken with Krayler's wallet and attempts to blackmail them into saying that he (Charley) killed Krayler and having Helen put into perjury. Helen then tells Ken that she did not kill Krayler and has Charley confess that his brother-in-law was the real murderer. Ken leaves the house, sickened by Helen's lying, but Helen chases after him and lies once more by saying that she is pregnant. Ken then takes Helen into the house in an attempt to teach her not to lie.
- Carole Lombard as Helen Bartlett
- Fred MacMurray as Ken Bartlett
- John Barrymore as Charley Jasper
- Una Merkel as Daisy McClure
- Porter Hall as Prosecutor
- Edgar Kennedy as Darsey
- Lynne Overman as Bartender
- Irving Bacon as the coroner
- Fritz Feld as Krayler's butler
- John T. Murray as Otto Krayler
- Richard Carle as Judge
- Hattie McDaniel appears in a small role as a maid named Ella.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2008)|
Lombard's career had been flying high since the release of Twentieth Century in 1934, which had begun her friendship with Barrymore. Although Barrymore, by 1937, had become an uncontrollable alcoholic and his career was severely fumbling, Lombard personally requested him for the role of Charley Jasper. Lombard also personally requested screenwriter Claude Binyon to formulate the script. Shooting took place on the Paramount lot and on location at Lake Arrowhead. In an article for Photoplay Binyon wrote, "We were looking at the day's rushes. Lombard watched herself on the screen and laughed. 'What do you think?' asked the director [Ruggles]. 'She's a goof,' said Lombard. 'I could cut her throat.' 'That's you,' said the director. 'You're telling me,' said Lombard. So three days later she signed a new contract--for more money. You're telling me."