If the auteur theory has any meaning, it must surely apply to HUGO HAAS who produced, directed , wrote and starred in his own films!
ONE GIRL’S CONFESSION is one of 7 films Haas made with CLEO MOORE (1924 – 1973) who was active in films from 1948 to 1957 when she left acting and became a businesswoman. Cleo died in 1973, aged 48.
I enjoyed “One Girl’s Confession”. For once Hugo Haas isn’t a downtrodden older man and Cleo isn’t a femme fatale after his money!
Cleo plays a Cinderella- type character, Mary, who works all day in a cafe and lives in a room upstairs. Her employer treats her almost like a slave. ( Why she stays is anybody’s guess!) She believes he cheated her late father who owned the cafe.
Ten minutes into the film and she steals $25,000 from her employer and gives herself up to the police, having first hidden the money. ( Her employer has been doing some dodgy dealing).
( Why she didn’t just buy a ticket for South America isn’t clear.)
She ‘s a model prisoner and gets parole . (It’s a quick three years behind bars!)
She has to go back to the small town she came from while deciding when she can go for the hidden money. She ends up working again in a cafe run by happy-go-lucky (did I just describe a Hugo Haas character!) guy with the wonderdul name, Dragomie Damitrof.
Drago’s favorite occupation is gambling with his mates. His girlfriend ,’Smooch’ ( HELENE STANTON) gets a bit fed up.
Cleo meets fisherman ,Johnny (GLENN LANGAN) and they plan a future together though he doesn’t know her background.
She learns that her former employer has left the country . So he won’t be pursuing her.
A happy Damitrof.
Before too long, Damitrof’s luck runs out and he loses everything including the cafe. Mary trusts him and tells him where the money is buried, but he doesn’t find the money and angrily tells her to get out. ( She doesn’t go herself in case the cops are watching her.)
Very soon after, Mary finds out that his cafe is reopening and Damitrof still owns it. She follows him to a swanky apartment and is convinced that he did find her money .
She confronts him in his apartment and ends up hitting him over the head with a bottle. His girlfriend comes in and accuses Mary of killing him.
In a panic, she finally goes to the spot where the money is buried and finds it is still there. She is so shocked at what she has done to Damitrof, she takes the money box and leaves it at an orphanage and hands herself into the police for Damitrof’s murder.
A policeman goes to Damitrof’s apartment, only to have Damitrof open the door! (Mary had only knocked him out).
Mary goes back to the orphanage but before she can recover the money box, a nun picks it up and takes it away!
Wandering on the waterfront, Mary meets Damitrof again. He invites her back to work for him, but Johnny calls out to her to go on a trip with him. Damitrof waves them off.
(It turns out Damitrof had won back all the money he lost).
The plot was ok and the cast worked well together.
An L.A.Times review of the DVD release describes Cleo Moore as the “archetypal bad girl who only goes good as a last resort.” Well, maybe in some of her films, but not in this one.
I was particularly impressed with Helene Stanton (1925 – 2017) in the few scenes she was in. This was the first of only half a dozen films she did. She had a small part in The Big Combo (1957), as Cornel Wilde’s girlfriend.
Helene was a singer and performed at the opening of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.
One Girl’s Confession is part of the box set, “Bad Girls of Film Noir”, Volume 2. The print quality is very good. An enjoyable B feature. It’s on You Tube.
Next up is another Haas production , THE OTHER WOMAN (1954)