Strange Confession - 1945
Strange Confession - Released October 5, 1945. Directed by John Hoffman
"That man Graham is a disgrace to our profession!"
Slightly muddled movie in the Inner Sanctum anthology series in which in this episode dedicated chemist Creighton Chaney (aka Lon Jr.) becomes convinced that his head has been stolen by double-dealing pharmaceutical tycoon Roger Graham (J. Carrol Naish). Graham has been profiting off of the humble chemists research and brain-power and their rocky relationship between the two men comes to a head, you might say, one night when the chemist realizes the avaricious company president is also after his wife (Brenda Joyce).
Chaney, Joyce and Naish are all good in their individual roles, but they don't have a lot of room to work as the tale is only 62 minutes long and the story passes over a couple of years time in the life of the characters, has Chaney taking a South America trip to do research, and Naish as the evil businessman doesn't even meet Joyce until halfway through the story and then startes to work on his back-handed strategy to get her away from Chaney. The script can't pack it all together effectively and hamstrings whatever good progress the cast makes as they plow through the melodrama.
Still, watching Chaney, Joyce and Naish together is good. Chaney plays his trademarked long-suffering good-man being wronged as well as always, and Joyce has a few featured minutes, too.
Synopsis of the story:
Lon Chaney Jr. (as Jeff Carter) is a dedicated man of science working on vaccines at a chemical laboratory owned by J. Carrol Naish (as Roger Graham). Graham's interest in science seems to only extend as far as marketing, he is more interested in quick sales and not in the slow progression of thorough medical research. He is continually pressuring Jeff Carter to go faster, and when Jeff refuses to proceed to production on an important medicine that Jeff isn't sure is safe, the two men have a confrontation and Jeff resigns, with Graham vowing to blackball him throughout the industry.
A year passes and Jeff only finds work as a pharmacist in a local drug store, and his wife Mary (Brenda Joyce) is chaffing from her husband's low wages. She is concerned for the future of their young son Tommy (Gregory Marshall) and is wondering how her headstrong and stubborn husband will move forward in his career. Then, unexpectedly, Mr. Graham appears on New Years Eve and offers Jeff his job back, he says that his company has weakened in Jeff's absence, and admits he was wrong to have worked against him within the industry to block his ability to find good work.
Soon Jeff is back on Graham's payroll, and Mr. Graham is continually romancing the young couple to keep them happy and to maybe find a way to get closer to Mary. Carter in the process. A perfect opportunity comes when Jeff mentions that he needs access to a rare South American mold so that he can complete his work on an influenza vaccine, so Mr. Graham sends him and his assistant Dave (played by Lloyd Bridges) with a portable laboratory to South America. Once he is set up there, Jeff finds the solutions that made the earlier formula a failure, and begins designing a new, more effective influenza formula. He also sends to Mr Graham by post a package containing a souvenir machete which Graham hangs on his wall at his luxury home.
But with Jeff absent, Graham uses his chance to regularly entertain the lonely Mrs. Carter, and he also sends his secretary Stevens (Milburn Stone) to work in secret in copying Jeff's notes on the incomplete influenza vaccine so that they can rush it to market.
Then Tommy comes down with influenza, and Jeff leaves South America to rush back to the States.
Convinced that the new vaccine just introduced from Graham's company is the one that Jeff has newly designed in South America, Mary uses it on their son. The new medicine, which she uses against the advice of her doctor, has no good effect and Tommy dies.
Emotionally shocked, she goes to visit Graham in a stupor, and while he provides her with champagne and announces that he is in love with her, she furiously comes to life and rejects him, blaming him for Tommy's death. Just then Jeff arrives. He had already visited his home and found out that his son was dead, and has come to Graham's home to settle matters once and for all.
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From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.
Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Moving Image Book Award by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation
Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association
Original Page March 2014 | Updated January 2018