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CONFESSION (aka: MAZURKA) (director: Joe May; screenwriters: based on the play by Hans Rameau/Julius Epstein/Margaret LaVino/Stanley Logan; cinematographer: Sid Hickox; editor: James Gibbon; music: Leo Forbstein; cast: Jane Bryan (Lisa Koslov), Dorothy Peterson (Mrs. Koslov), Kay Francis (Vera Kowalska), Basil Rathbone (Michael Michailow), Donald Crisp (Judge), Robert Barrat (Prosecutor), Ben Welden (Defense Attorney), Ian Hunter (Capt. LeonideKirow), Mary MaGuire (Hildegard); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: ; Warner Brothers; 1937)
“A stylish Hollywood soap opera in the style of a German expressionist film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

German emigre director Joe May(“Asphalt”/”The Invisible Man Returns”/”The House of Seven Gables”) fashions a stylish Hollywood tearjerker soap opera in the style of a German expressionist film. It’s based on the play by Hans Rameau. The film was a remake of the 1935 German production of Mazurka that starred Pola Negri. The story is derived from a 1930 European law suit and tells about an unhinged cabaret singer, Vera Kowalska (Kay Francis), who is on trial in Warsaw for murdering the oily established concert pianist Michael Michailow (Basil Rathbone) after spotting him kissing the innocent young conservatory student Lisa Koslov (Jane Bryan) while she was performing.

The accused Vera admits to the murder, but refuses during the trial to mention her motive. The story unfolds in flashback, and little by little the mystery is uncovered as to why the distraught singer, once a great opera singer, plugged the pianist. When Vera’s suitcase is found and brought to court, she tells her sob story to the court behind closed doors and reveals how the slimy Michailow, after a one-night stand, ruined her marriage to an army captain (Ian Hunter) and how in the divorce she lost custody of her beloved young daughter and didn’t see her for fifteen years until the night of the murder. Vera is willing to go to prison to protect her child from the scoundrel and feels it’s best not to let her know who is her real mother, since her father is dead and his new wife (Dorothy Peterson) has a great relationship with Lisa, and can best protect the sheltered girl.

Though the romantic parts are stilted, the emotional story has oomph.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”