Jeanne Eagels plays the bored and restless Leslie Crosbie who turns to another man, Geoffrey Hammond (Herbert Marshall) for attention when neglected by her husband Robert (Reginald Owen). ...
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Lil works for the Legendre Company and causes Bill to divorce Irene and marry her. She has an affair with businessman Gaerste and uses him to force society to pay attention to her. She has ... See full summary »
Jeanne Eagels plays the bored and restless Leslie Crosbie who turns to another man, Geoffrey Hammond (Herbert Marshall) for attention when neglected by her husband Robert (Reginald Owen). Robert decides to go out for the evening to pick up a new rifle. Leslie's calm vanishes as she awaits an answer to a letter she has written Hammond. He has found a new love - a beautiful unscrupulous native woman Li Ti (Lady Tsei Mei) and has discarded Leslie. Written by
The original Broadway production of "The Letter" by W. Somerset Maugham opened at the Morosco Theater on September 26, 1927 and ran for 104 performances. See more »
Leslie, dear, I think I'll go into Singapore tonight. Exchange this rifle. It's not heavy enough for tigers.
Well, don't be long... I'm afraid I'm as nervous as the natives
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Fascinating early talking picture with an equally fascinating star.
This film has recently been restored to a 35mm print. I was fortunate enough to see it. A great deal is already said here about Jeanne Eagels' performance. The only thing I can add is that Bette Davis seems to not have so much modeled her performance in the remake, as to have modeled her own physical persona in general on Eagels, who has a subtle body twitch that Davis took to (delightful) extremes later on. Certainly Davis would have seen this original movie version, and may have even seen Eagels on stage in other properties.
The sound is very primitive in this early version. At first it seemed like the sound wasn't even working. But the problem is that there is no sound until the film gets to a scene that has dialogue. It would have been interesting to hear more ambient sound added so you would be less likely to notice the old-fashioned audio, but then purists might complain.
Nevertheless, the film is fascinating and so is Eagels. I saw the film with an Asian friend who liked the fact that the film doesn't shirk from racism. The sequence where the heroine delivers the letter to the dragon lady was fun to compare to the later version. The early version is a lot racier! Also, I must point out that Herbert Marshall, who appears in the later version as the heroine's husband, is very young and handsome as her murdered lover in this 1929 production.
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