True Confessions (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

True Confessions1981

True Confessions (1981)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

True Confessions Photos

Movie Info

Adapted by John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion from Dunne's novel, True Confessions uses the still-unsolved "Black Dahlia" murder as the foundation for a devastating attack on big-city corruption -- in which it appears that many of the perpetrators wear clerical collars. In, 1948 Los Angeles detective Tom Spellacy (Robert Duvall) is assigned to investigate the death of a priest, who apparently suffered a heart attack while being serviced by a prostitute. Meanwhile, Tom's brother, young Catholic monsignor Des Spellacy (Robert De Niro), is reluctantly currying favor with crooked contractor Jack Amsterdam (Charles Durning), the better to finance an expansion of Des' church. The unifying factor between Tom and Des, beyond their sibling relationship, turns out to be the grisly murder of a hooker. The key words in the labyrinthine proceedings are power, ambition, and hypocrisy. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Robert De Niro
as Father Des Spellacy
Robert Duvall
as Det. Tom Spellacy
Charles Durning
as Jack Amsterdam
Ed Flanders
as Dan T. Campion
Burgess Meredith
as Seamus Fargo
Rose Gregorio
as Brenda Samuels
Cyril Cusack
as Cardinal Danaher
Kenneth McMillan
as Frank Crotty
Dan Hedaya
as Howard Terkel
Gwen Van Dam
as Mrs. Fazenda
Thomas Hill
as Mr. Fazenda
Jeanette Nolan
as Mrs. Spellacy
Jorge Cervera Jr.
as Eduardo Duarte
Darwyn Carson
as Lorna Keane
Pat Corley
as Sonny McDonough
Richard Foronjy
as Ambulance driver
Joe Medalis
as Deputy Coroner
James Hong
as Coroner Wong
Ron Ryan
as Detective
Louis Basile
as Detective
Paul Valentine
as Detective
Louise Fitch
as Older nun
Frederic Cook
as Brenda's trick
Robert Arthur
as Newscaster
Colin Hamilton
as Headwaiter
Ron Stein
as Stuntman
Harry Pavelis
as Cardinal's Attendant
Eddie Hice
as Stuntman
Luisa Leschin
as Towel Girl
Bob Arthur
as Newscaster
Bill Furnell
as Newscaster
Steve Arvin
as Radio Announcer
Steve Powers
as Photographer
Joseph H. Choi
as Pathologist
Sharron Miller
as Movie Star
Harry "Slim" Duncan
as Priest at Banquet
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Critic Reviews for True Confessions

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (6)

Des is another solitary soul, but perhaps he's the most subtle and accessible solitary De Niro has yet embodied -- a man whose isolation draws you closer instead of giving you the willies.

December 18, 2015 | Full Review…

Two exciting, dangerous actors have little to do: Duvall spends too much time pacing and waiting; De Niro's big scene has him hanging up his vestments.

March 7, 2011 | Full Review…

Given the powerhouse topline casting combo and provocative theme, True Confessions has to be chalked up as something of a disappointment.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Numerous vital characters are dropped and the case-solving stripped of its complexity, with the resulting film over-linear and one-dimensional.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

True Confessions contains scenes that are just about as good as scenes can be. Then why does the movie leave us disoriented and disappointed, and why does the ending fail dismally?

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Quite simply it's one of the most entertaining, most intelligent and most thoroughly satisfying commercial American films in a very long time.

August 30, 2004 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for True Confessions


"True Confessions" is one of the slowest films I've seen. And not only is it slow, but it has virtually no climax or plot and the ending just sort of happens. That being said, Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall give some good performances (the latter doing a better job) and there are some scenes that are particularly interesting, not to mention that the production design is impeccable.

Stephen Earnest
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer


With all the talent in front of the camera there is no way this should be as inert as it is. Visually impressive drama is not terrible but lumbers along to an indifferent conclusion. Watch L.A. Confidental, which presents a simiilar story in a superior manner, instead.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

its a watchable film

Film Crazy
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

True Confessions Quotes

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