True Confession is a film where the strength of the actors keeps an otherwise lackluster film afloat. The film has it’s laughs, and in that respect it succeeds. Where it fails is in coherency, pacing and plotting. Too much goes unanswered and characters are not afforded development beyond the bare essentials needed to drive the plot. That being said, the comedy talents of both Lombard and Barrymore bring dimension and human interest to the characters. Lombard’s tick would be a cheap trick by another performance to hint to the audience that a lie is on it’s way. Lombard makes it a playful dare, as if letting us in on her mischief. As for Barrymore, I must conceed there is some sadness in in the fact that at this point in his career he is playing little more than a parody of himself. Then again, he plays John Barrymore so damn well… many people wish they could play themselves half as well as he could. Plot wise his character is a rather clumsily inserted device, and makes little sense. Again though, his talents make the viewer forget this, even for a short time. This ties into many questions left unanswered, including the gun problems and the actual murderor. The script is a real mess.
One final not of dissapointment is that the film wasn’t quite nasty enough. In concept it sounds like a wonderful dark comedy surrounded by murder and lying. Some of it works, like Lombard’s lie about her husband thinking the typewriter is their baby, but a lot of it doesn’t push the boundaries far enough. The film isn’t quite as biting as I would have liked, and ends up being quite tame. This is especially dissapointing considering the same year Nothing Sacred with Lombard and March was released, and while the subject matter isn’t quite as dark (a woman thinks she’s going to die is wrong, but has to keep lying without being exposed by a major newspaper), it is far more effective in laughs and as a dark comedy. While if I had to only recommend one of these films I’d easily go for Nothing Sacred, True Confession is not a bad film and for fans of the genre and actors it should be enjoyable. The supporting cast is also quite good.