“I Confess” – Hitch takes Quebec

This week’s audiovisual ramblings included Alfred Hitchcock’s I Confess, his 1953 thriller filmed in Quebec City.

I knew of the film from Robert Lepage’s brilliant narrative and visual references to it in his first feature film Le Confessional (1994). It’s about time I took in the source which so inspired Lepage.

I Confess is not one of Hitchcock’s great films. Even so, it’s extraordinary to watch.  Hitchcock uses the backdrop of Quebec City to great effect.  The Chateau Frontenac, l’Assemblee Nationale, many churches and the ferry across the St. Laurent to Levis figure prominently.  Many of the characters speak some lines in French. Hollywood actors Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter and Karl Malden work seamlessly in a French language milieu which is well incorporated in an English language production.

I was startled to see Canada, especially Quebec, appear as itself in an English language, international film. Given present day English-speaking Canadians’ reluctance to watch films about themselves produced in their own country, Hitchcock’s evident fascination with his fabulous Quebec City location is noteworthy in itself.

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