As the clock strikes midnight, biochemist Jeffrey Carter (Lon Chaney Jr) skulks through the streets avoiding the policemen on their beat. He eventually turns up at the door of an old college friend, Brandon (Wilton Graff), and asks his butler to be let in despite the late hour. He gains admittance and perusades Brandon to listen to his story, not knowing that the police have been called - Brandon realises something is very wrong when he sees Carter's harried demeanour, and more pointedly when he sees what the scientist is carrying in his medical bag... the story begins...
By arrangement with Simon and Schuster, it must be another Inner Sanctum mystery, the giveaway being the diembodied head in the glass ball giving exactly the same monologue that he has done in the previous four instalments. But this is a change of pace, for Strange Confession offers a somewhat paltry number of thrills, being more of a melodrama with a horrific ending; in fact, it was an adaptation of an old Claude Rains movie from about ten years before, The Man who Reclaimed his Head, with the original writer character changed to a man of science.
And as a result, the film falls flat, for the most part eschewing suspense for a limp tale of professional skullduggery, with Carter as the victim. Over the course of the hour, he has his life taken away from him by his unscrupulous boss Roger Graham (J. Carrol Naish). Carter is Graham's doormat as his research is exploited by the businessman, writing flattering speeches for him as well as pioneering work into cures for disease. Carter has a young family, with Mary (Brenda Joyce) as his wife, a woman who is supportive but wants a better life for her husband and son.
Which is something she doesn't have when Carter walks out of his job in frustration at Graham's tactics, only to find that he has fixed it so that he won't get a job anywhere else. The scientist eventually becomes a chemist in a shop, working out his formulas in his own homemade laboratory, until a few years later his old boss entices him back. But Carter seems to make the same mistakes again and again - there appears to be a message about the way big business rides roughshod over the men who keep the ideas and products coming, so that when he goes to South America to find that special missing ingredient for his new wonder-drug, Graham goes ahead without him, with disastrous results. All well and good, but with Inner Sanctum you're hoping for suspense, which you don't get until the last five minutes; it's a bit of a bore. But it does have a cheeky monkey in it.