June 25, 2020

By Ken Brafman, Image from AMPAS Collection

TITLE: TRUE CONFESSION: This is another film that came out of the 1930’s that falls into the “screwball comedy” genre; but with some film noir overtones. Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray star as Helen and Ken, and they’re a rather odd married couple. Helen is, by nature, a pathological liar. Ken, on the other hand, has a reputation as a scrupulously honest lawyer. His honesty has gotten in the way of his success, and therefore his wife finds she needs to go back to work. When Helen starts a new job, her employer is found dead and the evidence, although mostly circumstantial, points to her. Helen is put on trial and her husband defends her, against his better judgement. What follows are a convoluted series of courtroom antics. Veteran actor John Barrymore has third billing ahead of a capable supporting cast. He plays an amusing, yet obnoxious courtroom spectator named Charley, who reappears later in the story as a hapless blackmailer. Predictably, Helen gets off and the film winds down to a comic conclusion. This week’s image shows a scene featuring the main characters, with Lake Arrowhead in the background. Other locations include the Big Bear Lake area, with principal filming done at Paramount Studios. While this was only the second feature film for MacMurray, Lombard was at the height of her career and was one of Paramount’s biggest stars. At the time, she was seeing Clark Gable, who was estranged from his wife. He had rented a cabin in Lake Arrowhead and his presence was kept a close secret from the locals. Lombard seems to have been unfortunately accident-prone. In 1926 she was in a near-fatal auto accident. Along with several mishaps experienced on other shoots, in the making of this film she nearly drowned during a take that exposed her to the frigid water. While in the final days of a WWII bond tour, she was tragically killed in an airplane crash at 33.

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