I Confess (1953) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A priest, who comes under suspicion for murder, cannot clear his name without breaking the seal of the confessional.

  • Otto Keller and his wife Alma work as caretaker and housekeeper at a Catholic church in Québec City, Québec. While robbing a house where he sometimes works as a gardener, Otto is caught and kills the owner. Racked with guilt, he heads back to the church where Father Michael Logan is working late. Otto confesses his crime, but when the police begin to suspect Father Logan, he cannot reveal what he has been told in the confession.

  • In Québec City, Québec, Father Michael Logan is accused of killing a well-known lawyer. The priest knows the murderer, but he can't reveal his identity, because the man confessed the crime to him in the confessional. The guilty person is Otto Keller, the church sexton, who wore a priest's cassock to commit a robbery that led to the murder. Police Inspector Larrue narrows his investigation to Logan, who had a motive for committing the crime. The lawyer was blackmailing Ruth Grandfort, wife of a prominent politician. He had threatened to make public a suspected liaison she had with Logan after he became a priest. Logan is arrested and tried for murder. The jury acquits him, but doubts remain as to his innocence. Following the trial, a crowd on the street threatens Logan and Ruth. When Logan is physically attacked, Keller's wife Alma, tells the crowd that her husband is the real murderer.

  • In Québec City, Québec, the exiled German Otto Keller confesses to the Catholic priest Michael Logan late night in the church that he has just killed the lawyer Villette that employed him as gardener to steal two thousand dollars dressed like a priest. Meanwhile, the arrogant Inspector Larrue, who is in charge of the investigation, discovers two teenagers that have witnessed the killer dressed like a priest sneaking out Villette's house and walking to the church. When Larrue sees Father Logan talking to Ruth Grandfort near the crime scene, he summons them to a hearing at the precinct. Ruth provides an alibi to Father Logan telling that they met each other during the night. Further, she also tells that they had a past together before the war, and also that Villette was blackmailing her due to a secret meeting she had with Father Logan, when they spent the night together. Father Logan keeps the secret of the confession, but Ruth unintentionally provides the motive for the murder, and the prosecutor Willy Robertson uses it in court.

  • In Québec City, Québec, the murdered body of Mr. Villette, a prominent lawyer, is found by his part time gardener, Otto Keller, a German immigrant, who, with his wife Alma Keller, works as the domestic caretakers at Sainte Marie's Rectory. Based on the evidence amassed, the lead police investigator, Inspector Larrue, believes that Father Michael Logan, a parish priest at Sainte Marie's, is the murderer. Some of that evidence includes witnesses who saw a priest leave Villette's house immediately after the determined time of the death, and Father Logan seen suspiciously outside of Villette's house during the investigation with Ruth Grandfort, the wife of a prominent provincial politician. After questioning, Mrs. Grandfort reveals the true nature of her and Father Logan's relationship, which some could construe as being inappropriate, and her unsavory relationship to Villette. Mrs. Grandfort does whatever she can to help clear Father Logan's name. However, with further and further evidence mounting against him, Father Logan has to figure out what to do in light of the fact that he knows who the murderer is, that person, considered a friend, who made a confession to him. Only the murderer, the murderer's spouse, and Father Logan know of the murderer's identity. If the murderer does not come forward, Father Logan has to decide if his reputation and life, or his sacred vows to God and the Catholic church are more important.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In Quebec, in the sanctuary of his church late one night, Father Michael Logan finds Otto Keller, the German refugee who is employed as the rectory handyman. After asking Logan to hear his confession, the distressed Keller proceeds to tell how he killed a lawyer, Vilette, while trying to rob him.

    Later, Keller tells his wife Alma, who also works at the rectory, that Logan is barred from reporting the crime by the seal of the confessional. The next day, Keller proceeds to the Vilette mansion, where he is employed one day a week as gardener, and after returning the stolen money, alerts the police of Vilette's murder. The troubled Logan also appears at Vilete's, saying that he has an appointment, and is seen whispering to a woman on the street. Later, Inspector Larreau, who is in charge of the investigation, interviews two schoolgirls, who saw a priest leaving Vilette's house between 11:00 and 11:30 p.m. Suspicious of Logan, Larreau asks him to come to the station. Meanwhile, the anxious Keller hides the bloody cassock he wore on the night of the murder in Logan's room.

    At the station, Larreau questions Logan about his appointment with Vilette and the woman with whom he was seen, but Logan refuses to answer or provide an alibi for the night of the murder. Feeling certain that Logan is the killer, Larreau calls the Crown prosecutor, Willie Robertson, who is socializing with a member of Parliament, Pierre Grandfort and his wife Ruth, unaware that she was the woman outside Vilette's.

    The next day, Ruth secretly meets Logan on a ferry and tells him to admit to the police that they were together on the night of the murder, but Logan refuses, as he wants to protect her. However, Murphy, one of Larreau's men, sees them together and reports their meeting to Larreau. Reluctantly, Robertson asks Ruth to visit the station. There, with Larreau, Robertson, Pierre and Logan present, Ruth says she is being blackmailed and that she met with Logan on the night of the murder between nine and eleven o'clock to ask his advice. Although both Pierre and Logan try to protect her, Larreau presses for details. Believing the truth will prove Logan's innocence, Ruth tells a story that explains how she and Logan, who had been childhood sweethearts, were also in love as young adults: When war breaks out, Logan, always serious and noble, volunteers for military service and after a while, Ruth no longer hears from him. She eventually marries Pierre, but after the war, meets again with Logan. Without telling him she is married, she spends a day on an island talking to him. When a storm suddenly hits, they miss the last ferry out and take cover in a nearby summer house, where they spend a chaste night together.

    The next morning, Vilette, the owner of the house, spots them and recognizes Ruth. Afterward, she sees neither Logan nor Vilette. Five years later, Vilette shows up at Logan's ordination and continues to appear to Ruth in unlikely places. Later, Vilette threatens to blackmail her. Fearing scandal for both Pierre and Logan, Ruth meets with Logan to get his advice without telling Pierre. She and Logan plan to meet in front of Vilette's house the following morning, unaware that Vilette has been murdered. Back in the present, Robertson sends Logan and the Grandforts home, as Ruth has provided an alibi for Logan. However, Larreau tells Robertson that the autopsy report has placed Vilette's time of death after 11:30 p.m., which would have given Logan time to kill Vilette after meeting with Ruth, and that Ruth's testimony has suggested a motive for the killing.

    The next day, Keller taunts Logan about his vows, which require silence, but after seeing the dark look in Logan's eyes, he loads and pockets a gun. When Murphy arrives to see Logan, Keller embroiders a story about how Logan left in distress, which suggests that Logan is evading the police, but then Logan later shows up voluntarily in Larreau's office and is arrested.

    Meanwhile, the bloody cassock is found in a trunk during a search of Logan's room. Later, at the trial, as Alma watches, Keller testifies that Logan was in great distress on the night of the murder. Then Ruth's story is twisted by the prosecuting Robertson to insinuate an ongoing affair with Logan. In his testimony, Logan still does not reveal what he knows, nor does he implicate Keller when the cassock is shown as evidence.

    Although the jury acquits Logan for insufficient evidence, both judge and jury publicly express their suspicions. Logan is then free to go, but the disapproving mob almost crushes him. Seeing this, Alma tries to tell a policeman that Logan is innocent, but the panicked Keller kills her. Larreau, Logan and several policemen follow Keller to the Chateau Frontenac, and corner him in the ballroom. Believing that Logan has finally revealed the truth, Keller accuses him of hypocrisy by breaking his vow and thus, incriminates himself. When Logan moves closer to talk, Keller starts to shoot, but the police shoot Keller. As he dies, Keller asks for forgiveness, and Logan absolves him.

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