Late one night Jeff Carter (Lon Chaney Jr.) visits the home of an old school friend. Brandon (Wilton Graff) is now a famous attorney. Jeff begs Brandon to listen to what he has to say. Realizing that Carter is distraught he takes him into his library and sits him down. Jeff tells Brandon his story.
Jeff Carter is a brilliant chemist. He has a beautiful wife, Mary (Brenda Joyce) and a young son Tommy (Gregory Marshall). Jeff works for Roger Graham (J. Carrol Naish). Graham is a pharmaceutical mogul. He works his scientists to the bone for little pay and then takes credit for their accomplishments.
Jeff is working on a new drug. Graham wants the formula so he can go into production. Graham refuses. He says it’s not ready yet. Graham insists. Jeff quits and Graham blacklists him. Jeff resorts to working at a pharmacy to support his family. Jeff was Graham’s best scientist. Without him nothing gets developed. Eventually Graham goes to Jeff and hires him back on Jeff’s terms. With the job comes a raise. Jeff is able to buy a house in a nice neighborhood for his family.
Jeff continues working on his drug to cure influenza. He tells Graham that he needs a mold that is only found in South America. Graham jumps on the opportunity to get Jeff out of the way for awhile. He sends Jeff and his assistant Dave Curtis (Lloyd Bridges) down to South America to complete their research and perfect the formula for the drug. While Jeff is away Graham takes the opportunity to not only release the drug, untested and unperfected, but to also try to seduce Mary.
“Strange Confession” was released in 1945 and was directed by John Hoffman. It is the fifth movie in the Inner Sanctum movie franchise. It is also a horror movie and a film noir.
The film is an adaptation of a 1934 film starring Claude Rains called “The Man Who Reclaimed His Head”. Unfortunately the rights to the film were in dispute so the film wasn’t released to television with the other films in the series. After its theatrical release the film was shelved. Eventually it was rereleased as “The Missing Head” somewhere around 1953. The film then disappeared until it was released on video (VHS) in the 90’s. Sometimes what goes on behind the scenes is more appealing than the movie itself.
This story is not as mysterious or as interesting as some of the others in the Inner Sanctum series. It’s mostly a poor schmuck movie and the only mystery is what does Jeff have in that black bag that he carries to the lawyer’s home? Even that is only a mystery for awhile before you figure it out on your own.
Chaney doesn’t do downtrodden regular guy very well. He’s much better at insane raging alcoholic or wild werewolf. Everyone else in the film is good. Lloyd Bridges is a happy go lucky assistant, Brenda Joyce is the adorable yet clueless wife. Here’s a hint. Any boss who sends your husband out of town for months and then wines and dines you is looking for more than just a dinner companion. J. Carrol Naish as the slimy boss is perfect but then Naish is perfect at just about everything.
The Inner Sanctum movies were based on the radio program which was based on the Inner Sanctum books published by Simon & Schuster. In 1930 Simon & Schuster began publishing the novels under the Inner Sanctum imprint. The imprint included dramas romances and mysteries but mostly mysteries. The editor of the series was Lee Wright. Through the years she introduced various authors such as Craig Rice, Gypsy Rose Lee and Anthony Boucher.