Full Confession

Full Confession is a 1939 is a US proto film-noir, crime drama film made by RKO Radio Pictures. It was directed by John Farrow from an adaptation by Jerome Cady of Leo Birinski's story. The film stars Victor McLaglen, Sally Eilers, Barry Fitzgerald and Joseph Calleia.

Full Confession
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Farrow
Produced byRobert Sisk
Written byJerome Cady
Based onstory by Leo Birinski
StarringVictor McLaglen
Sally Eilers
Barry Fitzgerald
Joseph Calleia
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyJ. Roy Hunt
Edited byHarry Marker
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • September 8, 1939 (1939-09-08)
Running time
78 mins
CountryUnited States


Pat McGinnis (Victor McLaglen) murders a policeman and escapes by committing a more minor crime, for which he is arrested and jailed. An innocent man, Michael O'Keefe (Barry Fitzgerald), is convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. While delirious after an injury, McGinnis confesses to priest Father Loma (Joseph Calleia). Loma, whose flock includes McGinnis's girlfriend Molly Sullivan (Sally Eilers) as well as the O'Keefe clan, struggles to find a way to save O'Keefe without violating the sanctity of confession. He must convince McGinnis to give himself up.



Pandro S. Berman of RKO bought the film rights to Leo Birinski's story in January 1939 intending to turn it into a vehicle for Chester Morris.[1] Robert Sisk was assigned to produce.[2]

Eventually the lead role was given to Victor McLaglen and John Farrow was given the job of directing. A key support part was given to Barry Fitzgerald, who had appeared in The Informer (1935) with McLaglen and had not made a film since Bringing Up Baby (1938); he had most recently been on Broadway in The White Steed.[3]

Lucille Ball was to play the female lead but was ultimately unable to because she was recovering from an operation for appendicitis. Filming started 15 June 1939.[4]


Full Confession is often regarded as a semi-remake of John Ford's The Informer (1935) starring the same leading man, Victor McLaglen.[5][6]


  1. "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". The New York Times. January 28, 1939. ProQuest 102844653.
  2. Schallert, E. (January 30, 1939). "Drive against double bills gains new ally". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 164936964.
  3. Churchill, Douglas W. (June 13, 1939). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". The New York Times. ProQuest 102991241.
  4. Schallert, E. (May 27, 1939). "ORAMA". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 164993034.
  5. "Full Confession (1939): Articles". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  6. F. S. (September 28, 1939). "THE SCREEN". The New York Times. ProQuest 103083194.

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