Carole Lombard is one of the few actresses who could make a comedy about a chronic liar entertaining. She pulls this feat off in TRUE CONFESSION, a zany, sometimes annoying, but ultimately fairly amusing film.
Helen, who has a longtime habit of making up stories, finds herself on trial for the murder of a lecherous employer. Helen is defended by her husband, Ken (Fred MacMurray), a straight-arrow lawyer. Although Helen didn't commit the murder, Ken leads her to believe her only hope is to plead self-defense rather than not guilty, so once again Helen finds herself making up a tall tale, this time to save herself from the electric chair.
If it sounds pretty strange, well, it is (grin). Once John Barrymore enters the picture as a blackmailer, things get even stranger.
This role was pretty daffy even for Carole Lombard, but she manages to convey enough childish innocence to maintain the audience's sympathy, although her character's inability to change grows frustrating. This was one of four films Lombard made with Fred MacMurray; this is the weakest of the three films I've seen thus far, but they are always an appealing screen team.
Una Merkel lends good support as Lombard's loyal friend. Barrymore's character was somewhat extraneous to the goings-on and he could easily have been written out (and it probably would have been a better movie, as he is given too much time to chew the scenery, for no purpose). Character actors in the cast include Porter Hall (MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET), Tom Dugan, Fritz Feld, Irving Bacon, and Hattie McDaniel.
TRUE CONFESSION was directed by Wesley Ruggles. It runs 85 minutes. The scenic mountain shots in the final third of the movie were filmed in the Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear area of Southern California.
TRUE CONFESSION can be seen on DVD as part of the six-film Carole Lombard Glamour Collection.
Reviews of other films in the set: MAN OF THE WORLD, LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST, HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE, and THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS.