Saturday, October 1, 2011

'One Girl's Confession' is barely worth hearing

One Girl's Confession (1953)
Starring: Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, and Glenn Langan
Director: Hugo Haas
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Tempered by the school of hard knocks from an early age, Mary (Moore) robs $25,000 from her mobbed-up employer out of revenge for him ruining her father many years earlier. She then confesses to the theft, but never reveals where she hid the money, so she is sent to prison where she is safe from retaliation. All she has to do is serve her time and then quietly retrieve the hidden fortune once she is released. But when the kindness shown to her by a professional gambler (Haas) inspires her to share the money with him to help him out of a tight spot, and he appears to repay her by stealing the entire secreted fortune, she sets out get "her" money back or to gain revenge.

I imagine that in 1953 "One Girl's Confession" had all the plot twists and reversals to keep viewers satisfied. Further, the acting is good, the cinematography is serviceable, and the direction is steady and well-focused. Personally, I think that Cleo Moore's character of Mary was a little too quick to develop such trust in Hugo Haas' character given her background, but if one accepts the idea that she was just a little girl at heart looking for decent father-esque figure.

But nearly seventy years later, the film's story comes across as feeling too straight-forward, too pat, and under-developed. When watching it, there are numerous complications that seem to be set up as the story unfolds, but which are brought to fruition. The mob angle is dealt with kinda-sorta, but it feels too easy for someone watching the film in 2011, and there are a couple of characters that are just begging to be revealed as duplicitous or as something other than what they appear to be on the surface. But, without spoiling anything, I can tell you that whatever twists you THINK might be coming, you'll only get a tiny fraction of the proverbial "storm" can one would expect to come down on Mary's head as she moves to collect the money she's "worked for."

Now, the plot twists that do materialize are all well-executed, and the signature "ironic twists" in a Hugo Haas picture are here in spades, but as "The End" flashed on the screen, I was left feeling like I'd somehow been short-changed. This isn't exactly a bad movie, it's just a little tame.

I suppose it might be a nice, light-weight introduction to the film noir genre if you have a 11-14 year-old girl in your household with a love of crime fiction and mysteries (and the same might be true of a boy, but I think it might be less likely), but I think time has left this movie behind as entertainment for adults. I'd move to hear other opinions, though.