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True Confessions

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Overview

Adapted by John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion from Dunne's novel, True Confessions uses the still-unsolved "Black Dahlia" murder as the foundation for a devastating attack on big-city corruption -- in which it appears that many of the perpetrators wear clerical collars. In, 1948 Los Angeles detective Tom Spellacy Robert Duvall is assigned to investigate the death of a priest, who apparently suffered a heart attack while being serviced by a prostitute. Meanwhile, Tom's brother, young Catholic monsignor Des ...
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Overview

Adapted by John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion from Dunne's novel, True Confessions uses the still-unsolved "Black Dahlia" murder as the foundation for a devastating attack on big-city corruption -- in which it appears that many of the perpetrators wear clerical collars. In, 1948 Los Angeles detective Tom Spellacy Robert Duvall is assigned to investigate the death of a priest, who apparently suffered a heart attack while being serviced by a prostitute. Meanwhile, Tom's brother, young Catholic monsignor Des Spellacy Robert De Niro, is reluctantly currying favor with crooked contractor Jack Amsterdam Charles Durning, the better to finance an expansion of Des' church. The unifying factor between Tom and Des, beyond their sibling relationship, turns out to be the grisly murder of a hooker. The key words in the labyrinthine proceedings are power, ambition, and hypocrisy.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
With a plot and a look out of the 1940s, True Confessions was something of an anachronism when it was released in 1981. The film noir-influenced effort starring Robert DeNiro and Robert Duvall was based on a true Los Angeles murder case of the 1940s, novelized by John Gregory Dunne. The screenplay was written by Dunne and his wife, Joan Didion. DeNiro and Duvall play two brothers, one a policeman investigating a murder case and the other a priest who becomes implicated. The DeNiro-Duvall pairing made for decent box office and compelling acting, partly redeeming the story's predictability. But movie plots based on secrets of the confessional had long since passed their heyday, and True Confessions didn't succeed as much as might have been hoped. The director was little-known Ulu Grosbard, who had debuted three years previously with Straight Time.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/7/2014
  • UPC: 738329143428
  • Original Release: 1981
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kl Studio Classics
  • Time: 1:48:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 2,364

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert De Niro Des Spellacy
Robert Duvall Tom Spellacy
Charles Durning Jack Amsterdam
Ed Flanders Dan T. Champion
Cyril Cusack Cardinal Dansher
Burgess Meredith Seamus Fargo
Rose Gregorio Brenda Samuels
Kenneth McMillan Frank Crotty
Dan Hedaya Howard Terkel
Gwen van Dam Mrs. Fazenda
Tom Hill Mr. Fazenda
Jeanette Nolan Mrs. Spellacy
Jorge Cervera Jr. Eduardo Duarte
Susan Myers Bride
Louisa Moritz Whore
Pat Corley Sonny McDonough
Michael Callahan SubDeacon
Sharron Miller Movie Star
Matthew Faison Reporter
Richard Foronjy Ambulance driver
James Hong Coroner Wong
Ron Ryan Detective
Louis Basile Detective
Louise Fitch Older nun
Frederic Cook Brenda's trick
Shelly Batt Girl
Mary Munday Nun
Colin Hamilton Headwaiter
Amanda Cleveland Lois Farenda
Pierrino Mascarino Suspect
Luisa Leschin Towel Girl
Robert Arthur Newscaster
Sig Frohlich Waiter
Paul Valentine Detective
Steve Powers Photographer
Ron Stein Stuntman
Eddie Hice Stuntman
Kevin Breslin Boy
Darwyn Carson Lorna Keane
Joe Medalis Dep. Coroner
Jeff Howard Priest
Technical Credits
Ulu Grosbard Director
James D. Brubaker Producer
W. Stewart Campbell Art Director
Robert Chartoff Producer
Georges Delerue Score Composer
Joan Didion Screenwriter
John Gregory Dunne Original Story, Screenwriter
Stephen B. Grimes Production Designer
Howard Jensen Special Effects
Lynzee Klingman Editor
Tom Mack Asst. Director
Marvin March Set Decoration/Design
Owen Roizman Cinematographer
Joe Tompkins Costumes/Costume Designer
Irwin Winkler Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Secrets, secrets

    I've long been waiting for this movie to be released on dvd. And I recently found from a review on another site that it is offered in BOTH WIDESCREEN as well as pan & scan. I was at first disappointed when I saw the "pan & scan" format and wondered why it was released that way, but it is a double-sided disc, so widescreen lovers can "breathe easy." Anyway, as an avid reader, I both read the book and saw the movie many years ago. Naturally there is much more to the book than can be squeezed into the movie. The screenwriters, however, did a fairly good job. The essence of the story is secret-keeping. Whether it be in the confessional, brother to brother OR brother FROM brother, professional secrets, secret intimacies a man shares only with a woman--they are all in this story. And, yes, it is based upon the famous Black Dahlia case but that is interwoven into a story of two brothers and their differing experiences with the world around them. Unfortunately, their worlds intersect and crash at the murder of this poor young woman. That is when the "True Confessions" begin, bit by bit, to emerge. As to the cracks about women's bodies that another reviewer mentioned, often people who work in high stress professions where they see a lot of tragedy, mayhem, and death, result to "black humor" to get themselves through the stress of the events.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2002

    Disappointing and Offensive

    I was pretty disappointed in this film on multiple levels. I'm a fan of Duvall and DeNiro (who isn't?), but I couldn't shake the feeling that their roles should have been reversed -- DeNiro should have been the edgy detective and Duvall the Priest. But the biggest disappointment is the causal use of the ''Black Dahlia'' murder; here disguised as ''The Virgin Tramp'' murder. I¿m getting pretty tired of scenes in which hard-boiled detectives stand over a nude dead woman and make cracks about her body. This was a heinous, brutal crime that's used here only as an excuse to buck up a thin plot. In fact, all the women in this film are treated horribly. The worst offense is the fact that Duvall discovers the murderer yet never reveals it to anyone or even investigates the ''why.'' I guess we¿re not supposed to care because she was a prostitute? And speaking of caring, I¿m not sure why we're supposed to care about these two brothers and ultimately feel so sorry for them. I feel sorry for the dead women who populate this movie for no other reason then to provide titillation between the endlessly dull scenes of patriarchal posturing and male bonding. Skip it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews