With a plot and a look out of the 1940s, True Confessions was something of an anachronism when it was released in 1981. The film noir-influenced effort starring Robert DeNiro and Robert Duvall was based on a true Los Angeles murder case of the 1940s, novelized by John Gregory Dunne. The screenplay was written by Dunne and his wife, Joan Didion. DeNiro and Duvall play two brothers, one a policeman investigating a murder case and the other a priest who becomes implicated. The DeNiro-Duvall pairing made for decent box office and compelling acting, partly redeeming the story's predictability. But movie plots based on secrets of the confessional had long since passed their heyday, and True Confessions didn't succeed as much as might have been hoped. The director was little-known Ulu Grosbard, who had debuted three years previously with Straight Time.